It's been over a year since we purchased our busted up 25 yr old Ford Transit Van. We could see it had potential, but fair to say we underestimated how busted up it really was. Good things take time, you can't just rush street cred! Well, the resto is now done and this fully sic rocket ship in now back on the road.
If we're being totally honest, this thing was a complete piece of shit. We had found it abandoned by the previous owner in his carpark as he couldn't be bothered taking it to the tip, so no surprises there. But it appealed to us as the kind of challenge we like and there was something about it that gave it ‘presence' (rust holes, cobwebs and mould growing around the windscreen) it had potential! Making something old new again is defo in our wheelhouse. So, more than 12 months later, the Arse Van has seen a heap of work done, and is now loving its new life as the flagship (only ship) of the Arse fleet.
It needed two new batteries just to get it home (I know right who ever heard of a van with two batteries!), then once stripped down it became obvious there were a few other issues needing attention to get it anywhere near roadworthy. Most of the engine ancillaries needed replacing including the alternator, starter motor, fuel pump, water pump, all the fluids, all the filters. No maintenance had been done for years, but once started it did still surprisingly move on its own. The rust and panel damage was extensive and on closer inspection every panel was either dinted or needed rust repair including the roof and floor. One of the holes in the roof was fist size and the holes in the floor meant it would sink quickly in a decent puddle. Unfortunately none of the doors opened or closed properly and the bonnet didn’t shut either.
So if this thing was to have a future as the flagship of the Arse fleet it was going to need some work. The elves rolled up their sleeves and got to it and stripped it, and everything was going ok, until the issue of the fan belt… during a test run, the fan belt left its pulley and created havoc. It ripped off both radiator hoses, wrecked the thermostatic cooling fan, transmission oil lines, some other stuff, and then got under the timing case cover and ripped off the timing belt, which bent the pushrods and dropped the valves into the cylinders, and brought the engine to a clattering halt. The situation had escalated quickly, this investment was starting to look unwise, the future of the Tuff Arse fleet was in the balance. But hey, to late to turn around now, so we rebuilt the broken bits, and kept going.
The fan belt had also taken care of the (crap anyway) air conditioning by also ripping the lines and degassing the system, so deliveries in Summer were going to be toasty (at least the heater still worked… kind of). On the up side deleting the air-con saved a few kilos, which put the power to weight ratio up there with a Formula 1 car; on the next test run it impressively built up speed on a downhill and almost got to the speed limit like the Space Shuttle re-entering orbit without a heat shield.
The main idea of the resto was to give a us a cool delivery vehicle that would also double as a mobile billboard, so now that it was going a schmick re-spray and some sick as customisation was needed. To achieve this it had the panel repairs done and rust cut out and then underwent a full respray. Luckily we had found Cam at Gollings Panels in Melbourne who agreed to take on the challenge, this was not a job for the faint hearted. After four months or so of sitting in the queue at Cam's workshop he eventually got sick of looking at it and realised the only way to get rid of it was to do it. So it finally got it's full, glass out re-spray! Cams amazing panel skills made all the difference and after the respray it was hard to believe that this was the same piece of shit we started with all those months ago. It almost seemed like this project might turn out to be worthwhile, it looked sweet as!
So with the van going and painted we added the final touches. The Bull bar got stripped and repainted with some big LED spotties bolted on (for spotlighting campsites with crap camp chairs), a custom fabricated rear bumper was made, chunky AT tyres on fresh rims, some custom seat covers, and finally of course some cool vinyl graphics. How sweet does our ride look now?! We know, you wish you had one, but tuff, you can’t, because most of them are at the tip, the wreckers, or not roadworthy. So now that our Arse van has a new lease of life, watch out for it cruising the streets or coming to a camping expo near you. And with only a quarter a million kms on the clock it's still just getting run in. Stay tuned for plans for the V6 swap...