This Month's Feature VW

Key To My Escape

Nobody thought I would actually do it. I was 15 when I decided that this was my plan. I'd just bought my very first car - a 1969 Volkswagen Bus for $2,800- and was saving up every dollar I earned to fix him up. The interior seats were a mustard yellow vinyl that reminded me of baby puke, but stickier in the summer heat with no A/C.

The flooring was tattered and torn from 26 years of good times. The interior cabinetry- an original Westfalia conversion- was in surprisingly good shape, save for a few peeled back corners of the vinyl corner trim that had aged from white to creme-colored. I knew that this vehicle was the key to my escape, and I cherished every rusted inch of it. I borrowed some money from my parents to get the body sanded and repainted right away. The patchy, multiple shades of white paint that were on it were okay, but this bus had only moved to Michigan two years earlier, and I knew it needed a fresh coat of protection from the harsh, salty roads.

I knew exactly what I wanted: brilliant, Cobalt Blue, with glittery heavy metal flake on the bottom, with snow white on top. As it turns out, I couldn't afford heavy metal flake, but I think he turned out gorgeous nevertheless. Over that first year we were together, I painstakingly removed all the wood paneling that graced the ceiling and walls of this camper. I salvaged the pieces I could, cut new ones where I couldn't, and then stained them all a warm cherry color, replete with 7 coats of clear varnish. My driveway and I saw a lot of each other that summer.

I bought a rusted out parts Bus to scab materials from. An older woman helped me to sew all new curtains, which I then tie-dyed shades of Cerulean Blue, Lime Green, and a hint of Purple. My own mother helped me to rip out all that nasty yellow vinyl and sew brand new upholstery for the rear seats and fold-out bed cushions. I picked a dark blue fabric with a black chevron pattern, to match the new paint job and help hide stains. I cherish this Bus...the key to my escape.

Kelly SchWeger

Feature VW

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