The Magic Bus – 1972 VW Bus

“Magic” as we called him wasn’t so magic when he came to me. But Magic delivered years of adventures and experiences, and taught me pretty much all I know about automotive work.

I don’t really recall whether it used to belong to my Dad, or whether he was just the “go between”. One day he called me up and asked me if I wanted a VW Bus, FOR FREE! Only one catch, the engine was blown.

I jumped at the chance! I figured if I couldn’t fix it I was no worse off, the first MYTH I busted. hahahahaha My younger brother was living in Michigan with us then, back when he was a teenager. We BOTH learned a lot on that Bus. In fact, my brother went on to working on cars as a SAE Certified Technician.

We bought a book and tore the engine down. Bought a rebuilt kit from JC Whitney, and put it all back together. That was a great sense of accomplishment, but the car wouldn’t RUN. Oh, it would sputter and spark and make you THINK it was going to start, but it never would.

Finally, we admitted defeat and took it to “Jesse James VW”. That wasn’t the REAL name of the place, but you couldn’t get ANYTHING done at this place for under $100. We felt “Jesse James” was a more appropriate name for the dealership. And sure enough, for about $130 they fixed the problem. The distributor was off 180 degrees,half a turn. They turned it around, charged me $130, and I drove it away.

Woohoo! I was driving a car that I had brought back from the dead! Well, for about a week, that is. One day, without warning, the engine seized up tight. Crap! Oh well, I got MORE practice tearing the engine down again.

Seems that I had selected the wrong seals for the oil cooler. The ones I used were too thick. When I bolted the cooler down it squeezed the seals so bad that little, or no, oil could get through. That caused the engine to overheat and seize up. Now the cylinders were scored and the pistons had buildup on them.

Another rebuilt kit from JC Whitney. AND a set of pistons and cylinders. AND a set of crank bearings and I was back on the road! Woohoo? Yep, it all held together this time and worked like a champ! I was a “Mechanic”! hahahaha

That wasn’t the last engine I put in that Bus. I really enjoyed working on Vdubs, and this one was “special” for a LONG time. Finally, in Miami, I let him go. The Master Brake cylinder had gone bad, but the bolts were severely corroded and I couldn’t get it off. I tried to hacksaw the bolts, but there wasn’t enough clearance – even if you just used the blade. If only I owned a dremel.

If I had it to do over again, I would have spent the money to have the old one cut off and a new one installed. But at the time, I had neither the money nor the time to mess with it. I sold Mgic for $50. I regretted it then and since. He was a good and true friend.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.