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.