you wait all day for a barndoor bus and then…

Ben Pon Bad Ass Barndoor show 2018

Ben Pon showtime…

OK, fair warning, there might be a fair few photos and videos of air cooled Barndoor buses to follow! In fact, there could be a fair few pictures of all sorts of vintage air cooled vehicles of all shapes and sizes to follow. The Ben Pon Barndoor gathering did not disappoint!

early start, grey skies, but the barndoor buses are soon filling up the display area…
early start, grey skies, but the barndoor buses are soon filling up the display area…

I was up surprisingly early for the first proper day of the Ben Pon show. Good job I didn’t drink too much German beer, English beer or strange blackcurrant liqueurs from Amsterdam the night before! I was not the only one up early-ish, Maik (a German member of the SSVC in our little group) was also awake, so after a quick brew up, we decided we would go for a little walkabout to check out the 2nd camping area on the other side of the Wagenwerkplaats site. It helped orientate us to see where everything was going to be over the weekend.

Ben Pon sitemap 2018
Ben Pon sitemap 2018

The new area was less crowded and much closer to the main show essentials, so we headed back quickly to let the others know so we could move our buses over to get us all a good spot…

Maiks cool 1956 Panel van and I set up our new camp area for the weekend
Maiks cool 1956 Panel van and I set up our new camp area for the weekend

It was fun meeting, camping and hanging out with a cool little group of new people (and buses) for the Barndoor gathering event. A whole new experience from my previous solo European travels. There were Richard and Sally (with their two kids who got a tent to sleep in) who actually had 1954 Barndoor camper that would be part of the show display. My friend Caroline and Adam were in Adams 1955 Palm Green/Sand Green camper, and Maik had a cool 1956 Panel van. I was definitely the newbie of the group with my later ‘modern’ 1964 bus! So with everyone relocated and settled in at our new camping spot, it was about time to have a look around the show itself.

A bit of something for everyone…

you wait all day for a barndoor bus and then…
you wait all day for a barndoor bus and then…

The Ben Pon site was divided up into particular areas for the different array of vehicles being displayed. The main feature area being set aside for the Barndoor era buses. This years event had attracted over 100+ Barndoor buses which set a new world record!

Typical of most air cooled VW events, there is always a good mixture of vehicles in various different conditions to see, something of interest for everybody.

no windows, no problem – beautiful barndoor panel van
no windows, no problem – beautiful barndoor panel van

There were the nut and bolt concourse restorations with amazing attention to detail…

stunning simplicity with this stock barndoor engine bay
stunning simplicity with this stock barndoor engine bay

through to some amazing original paint survivor barndoor buses

amazing original paint survivor barndoor bus
amazing original paint survivor barndoor bus

the custom hardcore slammed brigade, the outright crazy and pretty much everything in between!

radical custom Razor Edge Karmann Ghia
radical custom Razor Edge Karmann Ghia

I would get easily bored if everything was the same! The nice thing about this marque, there is a wide variety of tastes within the air cooled fraternity!

yes please – awesome ragtop split window Beetle
yes please – awesome ragtop split window Beetle

Yes, it runs and drives…

This was my first time at the Ben Pon event, so plenty of stuff for me to see and take in as I wandered around. Some cool, some crazy. When I say crazy, there was this one Barndoor bus I was thinking of in particular…

one previous careful owner bus…
one previous careful owner bus…

Although it looked like it had fallen down a mountain, believe it or not, yes this was running and driving!

that will buff right out…
that will buff right out…

OK, so it was on a Beetle chassis (apparently), and there was only a wooden plank for the front seat, gear changing was done by the passenger in the back of the bus, but still, crazy is as crazy does! It was for sale and I believe it has subsequently sold, so it will be interesting to see how this project turns out!

a wooden plank for a seat and a floor Fred Flintstone would appreciate
a wooden plank for a seat and a floor Fred Flintstone would appreciate

The show also had a central outside food court area which had lots of interesting options to tempt. I have to admit that the BBQ truck did make the most awesome of burgers!

typography and smokehouse BBQ, what’s not to like!
typography and smokehouse BBQ, what’s not to like!

As well as the cars, there was a selection of traders and autojumble stalls to peruse. Ideal if you were looking for a particularly elusive part or accessory. Fortunately, I’m all good for bits at the moment (famous last words!), although I did treat myself to a replacement surface mount bottle opener for the bus 🙂 I bought one a few years ago at the Ninove show, but unfortunately this was another little item that got lost with the subsequent bus fire.

Those looking for project inspiration, look no further than the Barndoor restoration by Vewib – yes this made running and driving whilst at the show! People really do seem to love a challenge!

work in progress, but yes it already drives!
work in progress, but yes it already drives!

The show also had some rare VW air cooled ‘relatives’ on display like this quirky looking Tempo Matador truck…

Talking of quirky looking alternatives, there was also this East German ‘split screen’ bus that I believe was based off a Kübelwagen chassis and utilised a variety of KdF-Wagen parts and a wooden frame? I guess why these are pretty scarce – this was the first one I had ever seen!

rare East German split screen bus copy – not ever seen this type before
rare East German split screen bus copy – not ever seen this type before

It can be pretty tiring looking round shows, looks like this little one had the right idea, gets pulled around and take a nap when it all gets too much!

walking around a show can be very tiring
walking around a show can be very tiring

Having had a good initial look around, I thought it was time to head back to base camp for a well-deserved cuppa and a bite to eat! 🙂 As the show was spread over the weekend, it was good to take some time out to chill a little as well. It was nice to spend some time chatting and getting to know Maik a little bit, who fortunately for me had excellent English! Along with the sympathetic restoration of his cool 1956 panel van, and the fun he had with the German authorities getting it through the German TUV (a stricter version of the UK MOT), he’d also made a more minimalist style camping interior.

portable solar panels, off-grid, free renewable electricity – perfect solution for wild camping
portable solar panels, off-grid, free renewable electricity – the perfect solution for wild camping

Plenty of inspiration in the details, and it really helps to see and chat about the solar charging set-up that he was using. This was something I’d like to look at more seriously moving forward. Off-grid, free renewable electricity – perfect solution for wild camping, what’s not to like!

So that was a really good start to the show, but tomorrow should be even better as I’ll get to see Schwimmwagens schwimming once again! So, does anyone want to see some more pictures?

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