Rusting Away the Days

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Rust is nearly a given on any VW Bus that’s still alive today, and truth be told, ours is in pretty good shape. I hear that this type of rust, rolling up along the windows like it is, is perhaps the worst kind, save perhaps for those buses that you lift the floor mats up on and can see the pavement whooshing away below you.

Rust along a window on the VW Bus
Rust along a window on the VW Bus

And the small hole shown here where the rust went for a concentration chew through the entire body, near the right side of the engine compartment.

Rust hole near the door to the engine compartment
Rust hole near the door to the engine compartment

For the time being I’ve sanded some of these down a little and sprayed over them a wild metallic orange car paint. The results are, interesting, to say the least, and certainly add to her charm as a rough and tumble home on wheels. If you’d like to avoid the same mistake, I would recommend not just showing up in the spray paint aisle of your local automotive shop and winging it.

I’ve been told relentlessly and now am fully aware: the Southwest is really the only good place for a Bus to live outdoors and avoid having her divots and crevices peppered with the auburn hue of dusty rust patches. It’s dry, both the humidity and the rest of the weather, and dusty as all desert, which I just like as an aside and don’t believe has anything to do with preserving a Bus. And it is in those deserts of Texas and Arizona that you’ll find nearly the highest per capita concentration of these old things driving around, though it is difficult to pinpoint actual numbers on herds and flocks of busses, since there are just so many fewer people actually living out in the cacti tickling sands of the Sonoroan and Chihuahuan Deserts. That all being said–and with the clarity in mind that if you want to easily keep your Bus’ paint job, particularly any lingering originals, free of the stuff, you might immediately consider visiting the fine lands of Bisbee, Arizona or Terlingua, Texas–there are plenty of havens for the Vintage Volkswagen enthusiast which are not the dry, dry desert and so hope for a life more green does exist. Colorado, with it’s 9 month frozen over in snow spells, is a bastion of Busses. Oregon is another example, a state of rainforest and ocean mind you, can boast that in Portland you really can’t circle an entire block without seeing at least one Bus, Vanagon or at least a Eurovan parked on the wrong side of the street. Just keep in mind that on the beach, salt lingers heavy in the air and loves to turn everything in its path to something those things don’t want to be. I’ve seen it corrode a metal garbage can in a matter of minutes. No lie.