When you are born and raised in Southern California, there are a few things that are engrained into your life at an early age: sunshine, surfing, and Volkswagens. That’s just what happened to Philip and Sherry Cohan. Their gorgeous 1970 Deluxe Kombi portrays the essence of the culture from bumper to bumper. This surf wagon pays homage to all that the couple enjoys, and to their California roots.
Nowadays, the couple call Henderson, Nevada (near Las Vegas) their home. Philip is a Firefighter, and Sherry is an Administrative Assistant. Even though they no longer live near the ocean’s waves, surfing is still among their hobbies, along with cycling and paddle boarding, and of course Volkswagens! They have owned several VW over the years, both air and water cooled.
In 2012, Sherry was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Naturally, such news can be devastating. It was at that time, the family decided to embark on a restoration project; “We thought this would keep us busy and our minds occupied”, Philip said.
They fittingly found their restoration candidate back in their hometown of Riverside, California; “We were looking for a low-light [early] Bay window VW bus, and found a great deal”, Philip adds. It was in good condition, with some rust in the typical areas.
Phil and his son Chris, handled the rust repair, with Chris acting as the teacher, as Phil tells us; “I learned a great deal about welding from my son. Welding sheet metal takes a great deal of patience and finesse, which I lack. My son is a much better welder, and is still schooling me today. I don’t know how many times he had to go over my so-called welds and fix them.” They put at least 40 hours into the panel repairs.
Once the rust was abated, the bus was taken to their friend Jose (an independent body and paint expert) who handled the rest. He diligently worked to straighten every panel as much as possible, before starting the painting process. They chose to stay with the original Savannah Beige and White; a classic combination. Jose spent an impressive 120 hours just on the paint, and it shows; the finish on this Deluxe is absolutely pristine with several layers of clear coat to protect the job. His hard work on the Deluxe was recognized at the ‘Elite & Just Clean VW Show’ in Las Vegas in 2013, where it received the trophy for ‘Best Paint’, not mention also receiving a ‘Top 20 Bus’ award at the same show.
The wheels are stock 14 inch steels, which have been powder coated white. They are wrapped in 185/60/14 BFG tires. Helping the Deluxe get the cool lowered look, are Airkewld 3.5 inch dropped spindles in the front, and 4 inch drop plates in the rear. The Cohan’s note; “It rides great! Like a stock ride with a great look.”
Behind the deck lid you will find a 1776cc full flowed engine with dual carburetors, an external oil cooler and remote oil filter. This badass power plant was built by Anibal Chico of Chico Performance in Arcadia, CA. Anibal is a legend in the scene, and is known for his topnotch quality build and testing standards. Phil and Chris installed the finished motor, along with a rebuilt Freeway Flyer transmission from Wright Gearbox, also out of Riverside.
The interior of this seven passenger Deluxe is in a class by itself. The seat covers and door panels were acquired from Sewfine Interior Products (Denver, Colorado). The carpet kit came from TMI Products in Corona, CA. Of course, all of the interior touches are atop a solid base of sound proofing throughout, and the seat frames were powder coated black. Phil and Chris installed the interior themselves, they even handled the headliner!
The surf theme continues on the inside, with a custom Tiki shift knob and horn button. There is even a custom surfboard shaped rear view mirror. Surf inspired pillows and curtains, and a bamboo parcel tray add to the esthetic. You can practically hear the Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, and Dick Dale music. Of course, no surf influenced bus would be complete without a traditional hula girl on the dashboard.
To top off the restoration, Phil added a roof rack from Pedro Accessories out of San Diego to carry, surfboards… naturally!
The only setback they experienced during the whole restoration, was when the bus filled with smoke after a wiring fire. Thankfully no major damage was caused and they were able to keep moving.
In all, the build was finished in exactly one year to the day from when it was begun; just in time for its first car show. Unfortunately, three days later on their way to dinner, a rock slammed into the nose of the bus! Back to Jose it went for another week, where he worked his magic yet again.
Everyone who builds a car has something personal that drives them to embark on the process, and their own special attachment which grows as a result. This Volkswagen bus takes that meaning and connection to a new level. While the family teamed up to tackle Sherry’s cancer diagnosis, they also came together to create a first-class Volkswagen Bus. The love and commitment dedicated to both causes is truly unequaled. The Deluxe was completed and is a stellar example…