Owning a Volkswagen Bus is like owning a large magnet, only the magnet has four wheels, a steering wheel and it is more stylish than your average magnet.
On occasion, you may see an old aircooled Volkswagen Bus driving around and smile and reminisce. But sometimes it isn’t until you begin to hang around other VW owners and get a feel for the cars that the longing to own one begins to grow. And so it was for Mike Rue, he hooked up with a few Volkswagen enthusiasts and his longing grew quickly.
Mike has been in the car scene for many years; he previously owned a 1979 Honda Civic CVCC, a fairly unique car in the local car scene. He was willing to part with his beloved Civic to own his first Volkswagen Camper; and here the search began for that Camper. Fortunately for Mike, his friend, Vince Powers, owner of Vintage Volkswagens, knew exactly where a 1972 VW Camper was located. One quick phone call to South Carolina and they were on the road for a rescue mission and to make Mike’s dream come true.
The Volkswagen Bus had been sitting in the junkyard approximately ten years and was in surprisingly decent condition. The interior was complete with front seats, the jump seat and the Z bed; the paint was rough and chipping off from sitting for so many years, and the body was in decent condition with little rust to be found (a surprise in the humid South.) After all those years, the Bus was finally pulled out of the junkyard on a forklift and sat outside, awaiting Mike and Vince’s arrival.
Once the transaction was complete, they began cleaning out all the junk that has accumulated over the years and it was then that they discovered, tucked beneath the trash, a large, heavy statue of a golden Buddha. It was then that the Bus was christened “Mr. B.” (The “B” being short for “Buddha.”) Once the clean up process was complete, Mr. B was loaded onto the trailer and towed back to Vintage Wagens in Conyers, Georgia (USA) for the restoration process to begin.
Mr. B didn’t have an engine so a 2.0L was rebuilt and an upgraded six rib transmission was installed as well. A ton of bodywork was performed because unfortunately when the Bus was loaded onto the forklift, damage had occurred to the side and rear and the paint was flaking terribly. Then it was prime red and ready for sky blue paint to be applied. A 4 ½ inch adjustable narrowed beam was built and installed in the front along with 3 ½ inch drop plates installed in the rear giving it quite a sexy looking stance. The Z bed interior was completed by Marvin’s Custom Interiors, while Mike and his wife, Melody, and two children, Amanda and Austin, tie-dyed the fabric for the all the panels in the Bus, adding their own unique personalization to their new family member, Mr. B. The front seats were covered with blue Mexican blankets. The headliner is also quite unique in that the front of it was painted with a large sun fading to the rear.
The Rue Family has already been completely enjoying their camper ownership experience; Mike can be seen smiling ear to ear behind the steering wheel. (And Mike typically doesn’t smile a lot; you see how owning a VW changes things.) The kids love their almost superstar status when being dropped off at their schools in one of the coolest cars in the morning carpool lines. (Another plus, owning a Volkswagen will also keep your children in school.) And you can find Mike and his family just driving around town, heading nowhere in particular.
In May, they joined their first VW caravan with their Vintage family to the Southern Worthersee show in Helen, Georgia. (This was also their first show.) Halfway through the two hour drive, Mike noticed he wasn’t shifting properly. At a brief stop to pick up the others who were heading to the show and riding with us, Vince crawled underneath in hopes of finding a broken clutch cable but instead found a broken shift coupler. Not having a spare coupler on hand, Mr. B nearly was sent home on a tow truck, but fortunately, Jason Boyd, who was also travelling with the caravan, had one at his house, which wasn’t far away and the day was saved for Mr. B. While the rest of the group went on to Helen, Vince, Mike, Jason as well as their “bodyguard” (or perhaps personal comedian), Curtis, stayed behind to complete their roadside rescue mission. What was to be a two hour drive turned into nearly six with the mishap. It’s always nice to have a personal mechanic on hand during a cruise!!!
This was not only their first cruise and show, but it was also their very first camping experience, with the roof popped up, the Z bed laid out, the child’s cot and the drive away tent with an inflatable air mattress, the family of four had plenty of room to stretch out and relax. Mike had gotten a lot of tips for first time camping from Vince, perhaps two of the most important: a drive away tent for more space, and to pack lightly; while busses have plenty of storage, it isn’t enough to pack the kitchen sink. (In fact, Mr. B has a sink of his own!)
Mr. B has truly brought the Rue family even closer together, from their tie dying experience to camping and games in the Bus to just hanging out and having a good time. (Which by the way they recently did attending their second show, YU Buggin, where Mr. B won his first Top 20 Trophy.) They are definitely looking forward to more camping, shows and just cruising around together as a family. To see the smiles on everyone’s faces is amazing. It’s always a great experience to see and share in the excitement of new owners. I look forward to hearing their stories for years to come.