The VW campervan that took five years to be restored
- Credit: Archant
A man from Colchester had to wait for an incredible five years for the cherished VW campervan he’d splashed out on to be fixed up
Jay Regan has always been a fan of VW Campervans. Pictures of the vans adorn the walls of his home in Roehedge, and the 48 year-old fondly recalls that a Beetle campervan was his first car, bought back in the late 80s. When he settled down with a family, Mr Regan traded his campervan for “a more sensible vehicle.”
Five years ago, and with a little more disposable income, he decided to splash out on a campervan again - but by then prices had risen fourfold, thanks to the brand’s revival as a cultural icon.
“Campervans that had been £4-5000 in the 1980s and 90s were then selling for £18-20,000, because they’d become much more desirable and harder to get hold of,” explained Mr Regan, an operations manager for Colchester Borough Council.
He bought a 1962 Splitscreen model for £18,000, which he deemed to be a “reasonable price,” but the sill down the side of the car needed repairing - “a job that should have cost a few hundred pounds,” he explained. But then that, his nostalgic campervan dream turned into a nightmare.
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Mr Regan was recommended to a mechanic in Wattisfield who found more rust and suggested he could restore and paint the van over the winter. The van was stripped down but two years later still hadn’t been repaired. Mr Regan clubbed together with other disillusioned customers to take a case to court, and last November, the mechanic was convicted for fraud.
Mr Regan’s tale of woe doesn’t end there. He took his van to another repairer to fix the damage done, but several months later, his mechanic, 53 year-old Will Fulford from Colchester, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. Mr Regan said: “Will had it for two years - mine was one of the last vehicles he ever worked on.”
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For the last year, Mr Regan’s van has been with East Coast Classics VW campervan restorer in Maldon. “We had to join a queue to get them to work on it, but a waiting list of one year plus is fairly common with VW vans,” Mr Regan explained.
After a total of five years in restoration, Mr Regan has been told that his van will finally be ready to pick up next month. All in all, he’s spent £65,000 to £70,000 on the van, but would get just over half that were he to sell it today.
“The saddest thing is when I bought it, when my kids were 11 and 14, we wanted to enjoy family holidays in it together. I’ve been robbed of that, as they’ve since grown up.”
He estimates that his van was worth £800-£1,200 new in 1962, but now it costs the same amount just to buy a second hand door - “if you can find one,” he added. “People are even importing parts in from California.”