Some people might think hacking the rear arches out of a Splitty and fitting hoofing great American muscle car wheels is sacrilege… other won’t be able to get enough of this bus. But love it or hate it… you can’t ignore it!
But like every old VW, this split-personality Splitty, has a story. up era, hiding in a quiet corner of a junkyard in San Francisco… The bus left the factory in 1963, complete with factory option divided ‘walkthrough’ bulkhead (code ‘080’ for the anoraks), painted L31 Dove Blue.
But at some point, it was rattle-canned matt black and off-white; this enterprising paintjob, covering a peppering of dents and dings. But the guerrilla modifications didn’t stop there! At some point, doubtlessly during the crazy ‘keep on trucking’ hippy van days of the 60’s/70’s, someone got serious with the secateurs and lopped the rear arches out, to accommodate something beefier on the back axle.
Think high end airbrushing and custom paint, and the UK might not immediately spring to mind as the world leader compared to our car culture lead American cousins. So what if we told you one of the world’s top airbrush and paint talents is based right here in Blighty? In the heart of the Cotswolds no less! Shot of tequila with your tea Vicar?
We are talking of course about the inimitable Sammy And then, a few years ago, something interested and even a little Cave, a.k.a Kustom Sammy; a self-taught freehand airbrush artists of the highest level. But Sammy herself is only half the story, as she is based at Re-Born To Be Wild in Cheltenham alongside original company founder and fellow perfectionist of paint precision, John Tooze. Commencing life as the UK’s first and only specialist motorcycle custom paint and repair centre, John, later joined by Sammy, built up a reputation over the years as the go-to-guys in the custom motor cycle scene, having bikes they’ve built regularly featured in international custom and chopper bike press. Of course a close relation of the custom bike scene is the hot rod scene and they soon made their mark here too – in fact when quintessentially British handmade motor marque, Morgan wanted to give their iconic ‘Three Wheeler’ a media boost, Re-Born To Be Wild were the natural choice for a hot-rod/chopper bike hybrid inspired Grim Reaper theme, complete with blue on blue ‘real flame’ job and chrome skull headlights… needless to say it went down a storm. And then, a few years ago, something interesting and even a little unexpected happened – the Re-Born team decided to spruce up the old work van (used for hauling stuff to motorcycle shows and transporting client’s rides). The van happened to be a T4. Sammy adorned it with a stars of the silver screen airbrush theme, which was then lacquered in candy apple red with the smooth as glass perfection the company have become known for. Needless to say, this perfect rolling advert for their work quickly pinged on the radar of the VW scene and before they knew it, the crew were ‘Re-Born again’ into a whole new fraternity as V-dubbers quickly started queuing with the bikers and hot-rodders.
One especially popular commission for VW owners is the custom bonnet – a nice way to give your ride a unique front end, without having to go to the extreme (or cost) of a full van – and the T4’s and T5’s seem to be leading the way in this trend. We caught up with some clients of Sammy’s custom airbrush work for the ultimate outdoors art exhibition.
If you fancy commissioning your own custom bonnet or any other airbrush or custom paintwork of any kind, then you can get hold of Re-Born To Be Wild on: 01242 253 666, or why not nip along to their website and check out some more examples of their stunning custom work at: www.reborntobewild.com
This article is featured in Issue 08 of VW Vibe (March 2015)