1958 Volkswagen Kombi Deluxe

Marcus purchased this 1958 11 Window Kombi and another Beetle from a gentleman with too many projects and not enough time to finish them all. The bus was complete on the outside, but was missing most of the interior, including the middle and rear seats, and came less an engine. With several layers of paint and plenty of battle scars, Marcus saw potential for this 11 window plain Jane to be transformed into a Deluxe with all the trim and sparkle associated with models of that era.

The paint and bog was scraped and wire wheeled by hand, with the 11 window revealing nothing too daunting in either rust or panel damage. With meticulous care and with no pressing deadline, Marcus replaced rusted panels with new sections and spent countless hours sanding and massaging the copious bumps and ripples out of the body. For its age, the Kombi had held up well, and was an excellent base for a restoration.

1958 VW Kombi Deluxe

Marcus always aims to complete everything to the best possible finish, but there also comes a time when enough is enough. Too many projects stall when perfection takes total control, and although there will always be something that could have received another rub or a tap, Marcus understood the need to also finish what he starts. With that in mind, the prep was done, and a makeshift spray booth was constructed for the acrylic Pearl White over Ceiling Wax red to be laid on.

During the panel and paint work, Marcus had been busy collecting all the interior and trim work needed to create a Deluxe Kombi. The middle and rear seats were sourced, and a TMI kit used to upholster them, along with a new headliner. Marcus made and trimmed the door and panel cards himself, and refurbished the instrument cluster and sourced a deluxe clock. All the interior handles, rails and bright work were re-chromed, and a set of Safari windows installed.

1958 VW Kombi Deluxe
1958 VW Kombi Deluxe

New deluxe exterior trim was purchased and carefully attached and the painted VW front emblem swapped for a new chrome one. Stock factory colour coded steel wheels and chrome VW emblem hubcaps wrapped in whitewall tyres were bolted onto completely refurbished stock running gear. The original beam was rebuilt, drums and reduction boxes retained, and the original crash box serviced and painted.

Lying in the shed was a 1200 motor of unknown origin, but in good condition. Marcus serviced the engine, replaced the fuel pump and lines, and detailed every square inch. The 6 volt electrics were retained, which give life to the B-pillar semaphores and period correct centre mounted rear brake light. For a touch of class and as an additional safety measure, Marcus added a set of rear bumper flashers.

1958 VW Kombi Deluxe
1958 VW Kombi Deluxe

As with all the VW builds that had gone before, this is where Marcus and the ‘58 parted company, and it was a very happy Terry Baker who scored this remarkable Kombi. Terry had plans to use the bus purely for show and display, with the occasional sunny weekend cruise and special outing, but he also intended to add a retro teardrop at some point. This would mean a few modifications that would improve the power and driving experience without detracting from the original finish of the bus.

There were also a few non-working items that Marcus had not quite finished that needed attention and Terry added these to the list.

First up was a slightly warmer motor, and Peter DeBiasi built a 1750 Type 1 that would easily handle the light towing duties and he converted the Kombi to 12 volt electrics so that Terry could wire in trailer lights, stereo, etc. The original crash box was deleted in favour of a later syncro transmission and an IRS rear conversion to eliminate the reduction boxes was installed. The brakes remained stock, but the front beam was changed to a later ball joint type with adjusters and the rear plates indexed for an overall lowered stance of around 3”. A tow bar and wiring was installed for the future teardrop.

1958 VW Kombi Deluxe

The interior was kept as is except for the inclusion of a fuel gauge, which also meant the factory fuel tank was removed and replaced with one that included a sender. Terry also wanted some tunes in the bus, so he carefully hid a stereo under the dash, and loose fitted two speaker boxes under the middle seat. In this way, he did not have to drill holes nor spoil the originality of the interior. The deluxe clock wasn’t working, so this was fixed and the semaphores and rear brake light needed attention so that they operated with the new 12 volt system. New, improved bumper flashers were also fitted.

1958 VW Kombi Deluxe

Terry then began to add a host of accessories to set his bus apart from the crowd. Door mirrors were first on the list, and were probably less of an accessory than a necessity when towing a trailer. A rear roof rack with side ladder was bolted on to throw some retro luggage and a vintage surfboard on top, new original hubcaps were fitted and custom VW-0058 number plates attached. No split bus these days is complete without the swaying Hawaiian girl on the dash, and a vintage wooden box bus first aid kit adds another nice retro touch.

The bus was now largely the way Terry wanted it, and he christened it Ruby. The hunt was now on for the camper. He quickly located one for sale in Goolwa. It was a one off custom plywood build that would sit perfectly behind Ruby. Terry had the camper repainted and trimmed with Kombi deluxe trim to match the bus, along with a VW emblem and some new windows. The camper interior was refitted and a new rear kitchen with an annexe added on. Hitched together, the duo make for quite an impressive rig.

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