When we decided to do this trip, we immediately started looking for the right Vanagon. ¬†We found it in Hollywood, California. ¬†Like so many of Hollywood’s residents, this van had a lot of potential. ¬†Let’s just call it “Star Power”. ¬†However, we felt it needed a little sprucing up before it was ready for the big time. ¬†The first step was a name change. ¬†Can you imagine a cowboy movie hero named Marion Mitchell Morrison? ¬†I don’t think so. ¬†A simple name change gave us John Wayne, and we were off to the movies. ¬†This van was named Whoopie when we bought it. ¬†We tried it out, but it was a little too “Sister Act” for us, so we rechristened it Ignacio, or Nacho for short. ¬†Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges! Yep, ready for the big time.
The first photo shows Nacho as purchased. ¬†Actually, it came with¬†Hawaiian¬†curtains, but Sheena quickly stripped them and replaced them with her own creation. ¬†That wood floor was actually peeling linoleum over rotting plywood. ¬†It was okay, but not exactly Clark Gable material.
First things first, I parked Nacho in our driveway and ripped everything out. ¬†Cabinets, floors, seats, carpet, walls. ¬†Everything. ¬†Upon doing so we realized that all of the walls were filled with fiberglass insulation, like what you’d find in a house. ¬†We promptly removed that, lined the walls with soundproofing, and added new carpet padding foam for the insulation. ¬†Maybe not as good an insulator as fiberglass, but definately cleaner and nicer to work with. ¬†Besides, we’re kind of going for the endless Summer thing on this trip. ¬†The soundproofing did make a big difference in road noise transmission though.
We did a deep clean of the walls, and immediately noticed that decades of previous ownership had turned the walls into¬†Swiss¬†cheese. ¬†It was like whenever they got a new doo-dad they drilled a hole in the wall and hung it up. ¬†Not only that, but where there were no holes the walls were like an undulating landscape of uneven bends and malformations. ¬†I imagine that was due to the manufacturing process.
Although unnecessary, we decided to go big and make the walls perfect. ¬†We filled all of¬†the¬†holes and used body putty to make all of the surfaces smooth and clean. ¬†No more holes or undulations. ¬†A fresh coat of auto paint on the interior made it look like new.
Every surface looked like this after body putty. ¬†You can see how uneven the walls were. ¬†Again, we realize this was completely unnecessary, but we knew we had 2 years to burn, so we went for it. ¬†Now that all is said and done, it feels like a new car (house?), so I’m glad we expended the extra effort.
With the interior painted, cleaned, and insulated, we had a clean¬†pallet on which to build up a fresh van (house?). ¬†I had no idea at the time, but this was the easiest part of the whole operation. ¬†Like Justin Timberlake in the Mickey Mouse Club days, Nacho had a loooong way to go.