Vancouver Automotive Shoot | Koopmans’ 1964 VW Bus

Sometimes you get so busy in life you have to put something off, again, and again, and again. This is the story with Darrell’s 1964 Volkswagen Bus 13 Window Deluxe. We talked over two years ago at the Great Canadian VW Show about doing a photo session, but with both our lives being super busy, and the bus being off the road most of the time, it never happened until now. Now being that it was the end of the line for Darrell and his Bus.

Darrell recently moved to a wet and rainy coastal town in BC called Squamish to get him and his wife a house. A place for their Pug, her name is Joy, to have space to roam around and to leave room for maybe some family expansion… The Koopman’s daily driver is a 1992 black on black VW Cabriolet, with the typical problems that often come with owning an older VW. With a new house, a dog, and an unreliable daily driver it was time for something to go. The Bus got put up for sale a few weeks ago to fund a newer daily driver and house payments. I saw the ad for the Bus, and contacted Darrell right away to get the shoot in motion.

It was just a week later that he was contacted about the sale, and the bus was tentatively sold to a guy in France. Darrell gave me the news and we decided the only time that was going to work was the day the bus was to get picked up by the middleman in the deal.

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The reason it was hard to line something up, is the bus was being stored inside a warehouse out in Harrison. Not a short drive from Squamish, or Langley for that matter. We met at our friend Mike’s place in Aldergrove at 8:30am and made our way to Harrison from there. The weather was not nice to us this day, it was pouring rain out in the Fraser Valley, and there was no cover to be found. The warehouse that the bus was stored in was completely full giving us no space to shoot photos in. Down the road we went with our Umbrella’s and my camera equipment and a bus that previous to this day had never seen a drop of rain since the restoration. The guy picking up the bus needed to take it for a drive before buying it anyway, so it was guaranteed to get wet whether I photographed it or not.

I didn’t get as many shots as I would’ve liked to as we were pressed for time, and the rain really slowed down the process. My camera got quite wet, so I only swapped lenses once, and very carefully so, for fear of water getting inside. I am pleased with the shots I got, but do wish I could’ve had a little more time to work with this beauty.

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Darrell sent me a little write-up on the bus, so I thought I would include that here:

There is nothing like driving a VW bus, and I have heard many stories alike when talking to people at shows, or passerby’s in a parking lot. Almost everyone has a “bus” story. Whether it was their parents or grandparents owned one, it was their school bus, they were hippies and travelled across Canada… everyone has a connection to a VW Bus. It’s not a fast vehicle, it’s definitely meant to be a cruiser. But when you are leaning on that huge steering wheel, safari windows cracked, cruising down your favourite strip in the summer, peoples heads are turning all over the place, getting the thumbs up because you know they’ve been in a bus before… that alone made the wait worth it.

My fiance (now wife) and I purchased a beat-up ’67 11 window in March 2006 with the intention of fixing a few mechanical items. We brought it to a shop to get an estimate, and as he lifted it up on the hoist the rear suspension went right through the frame. He said it wasn’t worth fixing as the rust was so terrible.

We left disappointed, only to drive by another hidden local shop to see a bunch of old buses and bugs parked out front. We took a peek inside only to find completely restored shells of air-cooled VW’s. We spoke with the owner for a while, he took a look at our ’67 and agreed it wasn’t worth fixing up.

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He had a ’64 13 window deluxe parked out front, pretty rusty, but the nose, roof, and dash were all in great shape. He offered it to us for a decent price, along with a trade-in for our ’67…. the only condition? It needed to be a full restoration.

We thought about it for a few days as I had just sold my 2000 VW GTI VR6 Turbo, and we bought our first place that I was living in. The promise from the shop was to have it completed for our wedding day in July, 2006. We got excited about the idea of having this as our wedding vehicle, but needless to say, it took a little longer than 4 months to restore.

So we started the process, we were told that any custom parts could be added, we got to choose the colours, interior colours, and fabrics. Being a VW guy since I was first able to drive, I started to research our endless possibilities with this bus.

First up, I needed it to be low. Very low. I’m a sucker for lowered vehicles, and this was my ultimate dream, a dumped, as low as you can go bus. I think we achieved that, haha… We put in a custom, narrowed adjustable beam, with a straight-axle kit from the UK in the rear. I’m 5′ 9″, and I can see over the roof.

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Next up was the Porsche 944 disc brakes all around. The intention was to build up from the original 1600cc engine, so while we were overhauling the rest of the bus, why not upgrade the brakes? We swapped the hubs out for Porsche hubs as well, so now I could run Porsche wheels.

With the 16×7 Porsche wheels on our lowered bus, we soon found out our turning radius was almost nil as we were hitting the wheel wells with the larger wheels. We decided to go with 15×6 phone dials on 165x45x15 tires up front to give us that extra bit of clearance.

For colours, we wanted to stay true to VW colours, but being in design myself, we also wanted to have a classic look. We went with Lotus white on the top, and Savannah Beige on the bottom, with a matching cloth / vinyl interior.

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We also added Safari Windows to give it that California look, it had some rad goodies like the original ‘jailbars’ in the back, and an original clock. We also picked up a working original radio. It came out amazing in the end, and really showed what we were going for.

During the restoration phase, all your typical culprits popped up on this Bus, rusty doors, doglegs, floor pans, and frame. It wasn’t until the frame was sand-blasted where we found out how bad this bus really was. And so began the waiting game.

The work was top quality, no bondo or fibre glass, only quality German metal was used, but the process took a very long time. The shop had too many vehicles to work on, they had to close shop for several months due to a storm damaging their building, and the list went on, and on… we were so far into it, that we just waited it out at that point.

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We finally got to drive it after about three and half years of waiting. It was a glorious moment, but was soon foiled by a rough idle and frequent stalling. Being at the tail end of summer, we decided to put it in storage and bring it out the next year.

The following year, we had a tune-up done by another local shop who got it running amazing, it is such a dream to drive. We spent time cruising the streets, going to a couple car shows, just trying to enjoy the bus in the sunshine.

This bus was originally from Chilliwack, BC, sitting in a farmer’s field collecting rust. I’m glad we got the opportunity to save it and bring it back to it’s glory, with our own subtle touches in mind.

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Bus modifications include:

– 7″ narrowed adjustable beam
– Straight axle kit
– Full Porsche 944 Turbo brake setup
– 15×6 Porsche Phone Dials
– H&R Spacers
– 12v Conversion
– Chrome Safari Windows

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