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Cost / experiences of body work repair on T4 Westy

2into1

2into1

Née T4WFA. Now running 2006 LHD T5 SE 130 Manual
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@sidepod, it doesn't look like I can pm you so can you drop me an email or txt to peter@xxxxxxx or 07734 xxxxxx (I'll edit these out once we've started a plan for your beer). Cheers
 
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G

Grebetow

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19
Location
Sheffield
Vehicle
T4 PopTop
I've the chance to buy a nice genuine 1998 Longnose Westy pop top as a bit of a project. Body condition is very poor despite the nice history. Miles are high. MOT solid.

I reckon it needs 4 new arches cutting up (the top and bottom bit on the front leading to the cill), the rear screen popping out to treat some bubbling, quite a bit of repair to the cills (not sure if cutting out or general prep). The painted bumpers are full of scuffs and one area that has been quite compressed and fractured the paint into lines. Windscreen surround appears ok, inc on top of the rubber wind deflector.

There is a list of other jobs but I have a bit of a handle about what they might cost. It's the bodywork that's unknown. If I'm to go for it I want to do it right and for the long term, and would love to hear your thoughts experiences of this type of work. I've seen that the replacement arches etc are quite good value (£50 a pop ish) but I've read worries that they are poor quality and may not endure.

With all the paint work in different areas it must be looking at a full paint after the metal work.

It's a 2.5tdi 102hp so must be worth doing. Metallic elegance green.

It would benefit from a new canvas so any experiences / estimates there would be good.

Any thoughts welcomed.
 
G

Grebetow

Messages
19
Location
Sheffield
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T4 PopTop
Hi, I have just joined the forum and, rather worryingly, have seen this van, which just yesterday I agreed to buy!

If you bought it just a few weeks ago to restore, then why is it for sale again so soon? I know the bodywork is poor but, as you say, internally it is superb.

Can you shed any light please? Hope I haven’t dropped a major clanger!!

Many thanks.
 
sidepod

sidepod

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Worry not. It’s all good. 2into1 will explain when he gets here.
 
2into1

2into1

Née T4WFA. Now running 2006 LHD T5 SE 130 Manual
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Glossop
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T5 SE 130
Hi. There is nothing wrong with the van that isn’t obvious by the obvious rust to the wheel arches etc. and hopefully the seller explained about the air con etc. The vans history is totally solid and legit. I got tempted when I sold owner a van. He’d had it 18 years.
My plan was to do it up and then run a small car alongside it, but I’ve been there before (my forum name reflects when I sold my last t4 Westy and small car for a T5 Cali). I decided just having one vehicle actually still best suited me, so I moved it on. If you upgrade to vip membership, we can exchange messages directly.
 
G

Grebetow

Messages
19
Location
Sheffield
Vehicle
T4 PopTop
Hi. There is nothing wrong with the van that isn’t obvious by the obvious rust to the wheel arches etc. and hopefully the seller explained about the air con etc. The vans history is totally solid and legit. I got tempted when I sold owner a van. He’d had it 18 years.
My plan was to do it up and then run a small car alongside it, but I’ve been there before (my forum name reflects when I sold my last t4 Westy and small car for a T5 Cali). I decided just having one vehicle actually still best suited me, so I moved it on. If you upgrade to vip membership, we can exchange messages directly.
 
G

Grebetow

Messages
19
Location
Sheffield
Vehicle
T4 PopTop
Hi, I have upgraded so perhaps you could pm me please - not sure how it works!!
Many thanks.
 
G

Grebetow

Messages
19
Location
Sheffield
Vehicle
T4 PopTop
Morning all,

i'm sure that some of you may remember my project van, purchased by me in June 2018, via 2into1 and the original (18yrs) UK owner. I thought I would provide a long overdue update.

The van was very much a project, and was an absolute mess bodywise. I went into it eyes wide open (or so I thought), and thought it would be worthwhile as the interior is in outstanding condition, and it is a later long nose, very high spec van with the much brighter later interior. Also, although it is a bit (?!) high on the mileage front, it has a truly astonishing service history.

Moving on, I had quite a bit of mechanical work done straight away, ie cambelt, engine mounts, full service etc. etc., and subsequently we used - and hugely enjoyed - the van loads throughout summer and autumn 2018. I also fitted a set of much nicer 16" alloys, which are in perfect condition with new tyres.

Then, the major work commenced. I know a chap who runs a highly renowned vehicle restoration business in Sheffield. Long story short, the van was much much much worse than I had thought, and he was reluctant to take the job on. After much cajoling, and because I have known him a long time and explained to him the value in Westfalia Californias, he agreed to do the work and they had the van in the bodyshop for two months throughout November and December.

Well, it was all definitely worth all the heartache. The van is, basically, new from the waist down and looks stunning. Everything was replaced - inner and outer, ie front wings, front & rear arches, sills, front & rear cross members etc. etc. We also had a towbar and electrics fitted. A huge amount of work was completed.

It's not quite a finished project. The only bits left to do are to paint the bonnet/front bumper (these were not replaced) and, perhaps, the roof. Also, I may, or may not, fit some decals. I do quite like the naked look. I just don't feel that I can spend any more just yet. If we keep it, then I will have these bits done, but they are unimportant to me.

The van has 226,000 miles and was used as a daily driver for 18 years by it's first UK owner, who acquired it from Deepcar Motorhomes when it was just two years old. Unusually it has a UK MPH speedometer, and UK headlights. Weirdly, the van lived about a mile away from me for 18 years, and I never spotted it.

It has an incredible service history, with an unbelievable 92 (yes - ninety two) invoices totalling £23,876.78!!

This does not include the body refurbishment work, and also does not include two services whilst it was still in Germany - including a cambelt service, bizarrely. The van has had well north of thirty grand spent on it.

It drives, and looks, like a new van and is, to me at least, a thing of great beauty. We have had some fantastic comments wherever we have been throughout the UK this year and it, quite literally, turns heads.P1060040.JPGP1060045.JPGDSC_0794_1280x853.JPGDSC_0801_1280x853.JPGDSC_0805_1280x853.JPGP1060052.JPGP1060048.JPGDSC_0802_1280x853.JPG

A few post restoration photos attached. I do have some pictures of the restoration, but unfortunately I am unable to convert them into a format that I can attach to the post.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the mileage (and history), I believe it is a unique van. Perhaps it is one of the best out there? Or, maybe not. I would be interested in your thoughts..........

Now we have been through all that, I may sell it next year. Thinking about moving to the dark side of T5 ownership...........

DSC_0794_1280x853.JPG
 
sidepod

sidepod

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Ooooh lovely :)
 
Chriswoody

Chriswoody

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83
Location
Northern Germany
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T4 PopTop
Thats really nice, I love the look of those late model interiors.

I had a garage undertake similar work on my T4 this last winter. New inner/outer wheel arches, new front wings, new cross-member etc. I put up a thread with extensive horror pictures earlier this year:

https://vwcaliforniaclub.com/threads/ive-had-a-few-rust-issues.28930/

I definitely won't be changing to a T5 or 6 though, I have too much emotionally invested in this van and I don't really know how they would be an improvement. This old T4 is just a joy to drive and with no roof corrosion issues to worry about either.

Here's a photo of mine just after it returned and with it's scruffy winter wheels on:

IMG_20190302_120803240_HDR.jpg
 
2into1

2into1

Née T4WFA. Now running 2006 LHD T5 SE 130 Manual
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Glossop
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T5 SE 130
Good to see the work you've managed to do. It looks great!
I don't know if you've seen, but my latest van is deepcar imported 06 t5 with UK speedo and lights.
I'd strongly advise not changing to a T5. I'm happy with mine, but went that route as many of the T4s were struggling with the bodywork. As you now have the most solid T4 in the UK, I'd be keeping it. Yes you miss the integrated deckchairs, picnic table and efficient water tanks, but you've got something very special (and simple and strong) there now.

Did the engine mounts cure that lift of the gear knob you could feel when taking up drive?

I wouldn't mind learning who the body shop was you used, as they are local to me. I guess it might be a disadvantage (!) to mention your name :)
 
sidepod

sidepod

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This is just a massive T4 group hug.

Smug or what :cheers
 
G

Grebetow

Messages
19
Location
Sheffield
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T4 PopTop
Thank you all for your responses.

Chriswoody - I saw, and was naturally extremely interested in, your original post re your restoration, and your van looks superb.

There are so many comparisons to draw with our van - even the cost is very similar! Actually, ours was a little more costly, but we did also have a new towbar and electrics fitted.

The main difference is that we didn't need a new windscreen, as our surround was/is solid. I have experienced this before though, on a 1991 T4 Autohomes Kompact a few years ago, which was totally rotten in this area and we had to have extensive repairs and a new screen. It seems to perhaps be a problem with earlier vans?

Interestingly, I sold that van on Ebay, and have since seen it for sale on a further two occasions - most recently earlier this year - so it is still going strong. I seem to spend half my life - and all my money - on keeping ageing T4 campers going!

What we did have to address with our van though, was a very rotten (and badly damaged - long story) tailgate. The glass was removed, extensive repairs completed, glass refitted and tailgate painted.

So, all in all, a very similar restoration, and a job well done for both of us. They give so much pleasure don't they? When I look at ours parked on the drive, and it looks as though could have been manufactured last week, it gives me so much pride. I honestly believe that this van will still be giving pleasure in another 20 years, with half a million miles under its wheels!

2into1 - Yes, the engine mounts did cure the problem you mention. One bolt was hanging by a thread, and the other wasn't there at all!

The bodyshop is John Bee on Abbeydale Road, owned by my pal Anton. By all means mention me (Greg Towers); I'm sure Anton will appreciate the referral.

Re the T5 thing - I'm not actually considering a T5 Cali. The roof problem is enough to dissuade me and, conversion/looks/driving/coolness wise, there is no benefit at all in changing. Especially now I have the most solid T4 in the UK, as you say - along with Chriswoody of couse!!!

I was thinking of sourcing and acquiring a T5/T5.1, and sorting my own conversion, just for something a bit different. Long story short (again), I went on a 5-day T5 Camper Conversion course two years ago, following which I have done 5 conversions on T5's and sold them for a few quid profit. No more than a bit of a sideline/hobby, and I fancied maybe doing one for myself. Maybe.

Finally, if I was to sell our van, would anyone have any thoughts in respect of its value? Apologies if this is an inappropriate question to put forward on the forum.

Regards to all.
 
Bellcrew

Bellcrew

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947
Location
Lymington
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T6 Ocean 150
Thank you all for your responses.

Chriswoody - I saw, and was naturally extremely interested in, your original post re your restoration, and your van looks superb.

There are so many comparisons to draw with our van - even the cost is very similar! Actually, ours was a little more costly, but we did also have a new towbar and electrics fitted.

The main difference is that we didn't need a new windscreen, as our surround was/is solid. I have experienced this before though, on a 1991 T4 Autohomes Kompact a few years ago, which was totally rotten in this area and we had to have extensive repairs and a new screen. It seems to perhaps be a problem with earlier vans?

Interestingly, I sold that van on Ebay, and have since seen it for sale on a further two occasions - most recently earlier this year - so it is still going strong. I seem to spend half my life - and all my money - on keeping ageing T4 campers going!

What we did have to address with our van though, was a very rotten (and badly damaged - long story) tailgate. The glass was removed, extensive repairs completed, glass refitted and tailgate painted.

So, all in all, a very similar restoration, and a job well done for both of us. They give so much pleasure don't they? When I look at ours parked on the drive, and it looks as though could have been manufactured last week, it gives me so much pride. I honestly believe that this van will still be giving pleasure in another 20 years, with half a million miles under its wheels!

2into1 - Yes, the engine mounts did cure the problem you mention. One bolt was hanging by a thread, and the other wasn't there at all!

The bodyshop is John Bee on Abbeydale Road, owned by my pal Anton. By all means mention me (Greg Towers); I'm sure Anton will appreciate the referral.

Re the T5 thing - I'm not actually considering a T5 Cali. The roof problem is enough to dissuade me and, conversion/looks/driving/coolness wise, there is no benefit at all in changing. Especially now I have the most solid T4 in the UK, as you say - along with Chriswoody of couse!!!

I was thinking of sourcing and acquiring a T5/T5.1, and sorting my own conversion, just for something a bit different. Long story short (again), I went on a 5-day T5 Camper Conversion course two years ago, following which I have done 5 conversions on T5's and sold them for a few quid profit. No more than a bit of a sideline/hobby, and I fancied maybe doing one for myself. Maybe.

Finally, if I was to sell our van, would anyone have any thoughts in respect of its value? Apologies if this is an inappropriate question to put forward on the forum.

Regards to all.
Considering that the T5/6 have galvanised bodies and much improved safety systems it seems a bit wry to avoid them because of possible cosmetic corrosion of an aluminium roof. Of course coolness trumps any other criteria in VW camper land.
 
sidepod

sidepod

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"Finally, if I was to sell our van, would anyone have any thoughts in respect of its value? Apologies if this is an inappropriate question to put forward on the forum. "

This is a tricky one. To the "converted" they're a no brainer but outside of that clique they're, well, left hand drive and that puts many off. They are the best kept secret and the best value VW van. They're worth what you can get on the day.
The other downside is the Euro 4 engine thing. I love my 2003 Freestyle and you'd need to pry it from my cold dead hands. Keep it till the end. :cheers
 
2into1

2into1

Née T4WFA. Now running 2006 LHD T5 SE 130 Manual
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2into1 - Yes, the engine mounts did cure the problem you mention. One bolt was hanging by a thread, and the other wasn't there at all!
Yikes!
 
Chriswoody

Chriswoody

Messages
83
Location
Northern Germany
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T4 PopTop
Thank you all for your responses.

The main difference is that we didn't need a new windscreen, as our surround was/is solid. I have experienced this before though, on a 1991 T4 Autohomes Kompact a few years ago, which was totally rotten in this area and we had to have extensive repairs and a new screen. It seems to perhaps be a problem with earlier vans?
I'm not sure it's an early van thing, mine was built in 98 after all, so about the middle of the run. I recall hearing somewhere that's it's to do with wether the front window has been removed for any reason and how the job was done. If it's been badly removed then there is a danger of the surrounding paint being chipped, which allegedly leads to the rust issues.

So, all in all, a very similar restoration, and a job well done for both of us. They give so much pleasure don't they? When I look at ours parked on the drive, and it looks as though could have been manufactured last week, it gives me so much pride. I honestly believe that this van will still be giving pleasure in another 20 years, with half a million miles under its wheels!
Just last week I finally washed the van for the first time after a summer of adventures and a week in rural Devon. I then spent a few satisfying hours polishing it. Afterwards I confess to feeling exactly the same way as you!

I've a few shabby spots left though, the black sections of the front grill are shedding paint and there's still some small rust spots on the top of the door and the tailgate. I'm planning on dealing with them myself this winter.

Considering that the T5/6 have galvanised bodies and much improved safety systems it seems a bit wry to avoid them because of possible cosmetic corrosion of an aluminium roof. Of course coolness trumps any other criteria in VW camper land.
Well my comment was slightly tongue in cheek! but seriously, I just don't have the money to change to a T5 and in all honesty, the things you mention are just not personally important enough to warrant me even wanting to try.
 
G

Grebetow

Messages
19
Location
Sheffield
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T4 PopTop
Ours is a 1999 van, so I don't know re the windscreen surround issue - perhaps it's across the entire production run? It is extremely common though and you see it in loads of T4's offered for sale on Ebay etc. That said, I have owned Five T4's now (95,96 & 99 Californias, 91 Autohomes Kompact and 98 Autosleeper Trident), and only one has had the problem, which was the 91 Autohomes, as I have said. So, in my experience, 20% of vans with the issue. Is that representative? I guess we'll never know.

Re the T5 'upgrade'; I don't dispute that the T5 is a better all round vehicle but, for me also, it could never be worth the extra ten to fifteen grand that I would have to contribute, even for an early van. Especially when it is virtually certain that I would be inheriting a corrosion issue that would require expensive resolution at some point.

Also, it is now unlikely that an early T5 would be as good as our van condition wise......

In my opinion, there is little benefit to the T5 camper conversion; it is simply a slightly more modern copy of the T4. For me the T4 drives just as well as the T5 ( and I have driven T5s extensively), and then there is the coolness factor....... Is the T5 better? Probably. Is it twice as good?

This is all subjective of course and I fully understand why everyone (or most people) love their T5 Calis. Don't get me wrong; If I could afford to buy a later T5.1 or T6, then I definitely would!!
 
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