The Orange Bus project is complete! The project spanned two months and included a Subaru engine conversion, upgrades inside and underside with a modern gauge cluster and climate control system, beautiful new wheels and tires, cozy replacement carpeting, and the comfortable hum of its new engine through our stainless steel exhaust. The bus has made its way home and is no doubt being driven on adventures as you read this!
For those of you out there looking to entrust Small Car with your Vanagon or Bus for this kind of work, even when you're sending it across the country or overseas, know that we make the effort for every project to end so well. Getting started is easy - give Small Car a phone call, we'll help you set up delivering the vehicle to us and help you choose which upgrades are best for you. After some time and a fair amount of work here at Small Car, pickup is just as easy - drive it home or have it shipped and start your adventures with confidence!
And finally here is our little video showing off this awesome Bus and some of our work with it, just for fun.
THE ORANGE TYPE 2 CONVERSION
The VW Type 2 Bus is a classic car with just the right attitude and style to stand out. Its no wonder that so many people love them as much as they do. Like Small Car after 40 years, and its new building, also 40 years old, this 1974 bus was restored by the owner after 40 years of service. It has been driven on a rebuilt stock engine for some time, but the engine succumbed to its age. After a second poorly rebuilt engine and a second failure, the customer is ready for something with a bit more longevity and power, and vastly more peace of mind.
Naturally, when they found out about Small Car and its Subaru conversions, our customer knew they'd found their solution. The vehicle was shipped to us and arrived this week in beautiful condition. Its orange color really jumps out at you... well actually, you can see for yourself!
The project includes a tremendously improved front brake upgrade, a high end modern climate control system (not just great heat and A/C) and of course all the major positive changes that come with a full Subaru engine conversion. We will be updating this page like a blog as the project progresses, so check back often!
WHEELS & ENGINE REMOVAL
Well, we've put some new wheels on The Orange Bus to test them out and take a look at the result. Its a good idea to do this just in case there are issues later, and its nice to see. The power available to the bus with its new Subaru engine will make a reliable modern brake package critical to safety and enjoyment of the vehicle. At over 40 years old this bus is simply not designed with current highway speeds and vehicle safety performance in mind. Sure, its a sturdy and overengineered design, but in the 70's cars simply didn't drive or stop this quickly. The new brakes will give it all the stopping power needed.
The old engine is out and the wiring for the project has begun. This is where the work really begins. Our mechanics and wiring experts will need to go over this van from end to end and make sure all of the connections will work with the new engine and computer setup. In the process the Subaru harness will be modified by cutting almost 3/4 of it away.
With the engine out modifications and additions to ready the engine bay for the Subaru engine can begin. While this is happening exhaust and mounting will be looked at for our stainless exhaust. Once all of the parts are ready, a simple process for a Vanagon but a more careful and time consuming one for its older sibling, the actual installation portion of the conversion is pretty quick.
ENGINE INSTALL & DASH UPGRADES
Progress is steady. The owner was able to visit us and take a look at the bus and its current state, and he's pleased with its progress. So where are we with the conversion?
Looks like things are going well! The engine itself is now in place and the majority of work is related to engine cooling, dash AC, wiring, and all the little things that make for one heck of a great bus. The biggest challenge at present is the radiator which needs to be mounted on the underside of the vehicle while remaining both compact and having sufficient air flow.
In the process we're developing a better solution so that this and future Type 2 conversions can benefit from better performance and quality. Small Car is always looking to improve and produce new products, and adapt existing products, to lead older VW's into the future. Here you can see a mock-up image displaying what the new gauge cluster and climate control might look like, with parts from Dakota Digital.
RADIATOR & INTERIOR
Work is moving ahead both underneath and inside the Orange Bus. Today we witnessed the cutting of new custom carpeting. To remove the old carpet and make room for the new some of the cabinets in the mid section of the bus had to be removed as well as parts of the rear seat. In the back over the engine bay will be a new mat piece in the same material, with a custom cut to allow easy access to the internal top engine lid independently from the spare wheel pocket.
Underneath the bus we've finally assembled the radiator mount. To allow good air flow and cool the vehicle we designed a sheet metal box to hold the radiator and squeezed both in under the center of the bus. The box has an intake duct at the front to increase air flow, though this will probably provide more air than is needed. The image shows the intake without a protective grate to block rocks bouncing up inside.