comparing a production place of the year 2021 to a production place of 1951 is unfair, but fun. At least, when comparing Mark´s little enterprise in Forthampton with the already huge Wolfsburg factory of 1950. While looking at the new pictures Marks sent me, I felt reminded of a certain famous picture of the Type 2 production of the very early days, it´s this one here:
As you see, there is no real “production line” yet, it all looks kind of provisory with these Bus bodies on the rolling carts, doesn´t it? Today, Mark uses the same rolling carts that you can see in the following picture and –believe it or not- the Samba is nearly in the same stage of assembly process as is the Bus on the vintage picture. All the main body work is done now, the inner “interim supporting frame” that we previously mounted to create a “driving Frankenstein” for Niels Timmermann´s Barndoor Gathering in 2018 is gone, the big body pieces are now at their final place.
Mark expressed it this way: There is obviously a fair bit to do still, were working on alignment and fit as much as everything else to get the body welded up but as you can see …were winning! The frame is out the bus and we have been working hard in the cargo door side, cab and engine bay. Its hard to put into words really how much work this has been, the time taken to get it fitting, the roof lines right, the panels repaired and fitting as they should . Im in no doubt at the end of this it will be the worlds most welded bus but all worth it 🙂
Nevertheless, even though some minor bodywork remains to be done, I hope you will agree that the Samba´s body is looking great now.
And here is one for all those who “shitstormed” the project in the beginning saying: “There won´t be anything left of the original Bus when this resto is finished!”. Let´s scroll back in time and see the Bus from the very same ankle in different stages of the resto. Is there anybody out there still doubting that we made our promise come true to save every possible inch of the poor remains we found May 2017 in the muddy Eifel?
Just to give you an idea about the quality of Mark´s work, let me show you an unknown picture of a well known Bus. It´s the famous prototype “Wolfsburger Delikatessen” VW introduced to the public in November 1949. You all surely know the pictures of the Wolfsburg press conference showing these three great looking prototypes in a row as they were standing at a show´n´shine contest. These pictures did a great job, the public interest in the new “Type 2” was huge from the beginning and resulted in an instant sales success right from the start of the production in March 1950. Volkswagen´s smart PR department always knew how to put the product in the right spotlight, in fact they made the product look better than it actually was.
Regarding the “Wolfsburger Delikatessen” it wasn´t any different. Have a look on this unofficial picture of the prototype, do you see what I mean?
OK, let´s zoom in a little bit to make it obvious: this car was clearly handmade and it was handmade in a poor way.
Look at the dimensions of the gaps and look along the surface of the entire right side, it´s undulating all over the place! This is the way the “Delikatessen” looked like in reality! Keep in mind: Volkswagen would never have published the picture above, it´s pure coincidence I got a hold of this unofficial picture.
And now compare this factory work to Mark´s work! Both Busses are handmade, but is there any doubt that the base Mark started from was so much worse than Volkswagen´s starting point? And see the result: the Samba is without a doubt a straight car now and you better believe Mark doesn´t use photoshop or a fulltime PR department making something look better than it actually is.
In fact, there is no reason to do so. The Samba is not for sale and never will be in my lifetime, neither is Mark begging for new projects, since there are some Busses waiting in line to be “reborn” in Forthampton. All this level of quality is “l´art pour l´art”, done to bring joy to you and me, done to bring the at least second oldest surviving Samba back to life, done to proof that nothing is impossible if you really want it.
And now, sit back and enjoy this piece of art by watching the Samba again from another ankle and compare it to earlier stages.
Next on the schedule is the mechanism of the sliding roof, so there will be a third chapter of the post “roofs and roots” soon!
have a nice weekend!