Saturday, 9 May 2015

Big Bang VW Camper and Bus Festival, Santa Pod Raceway.

This weeks blog review is about the annual 'Big Bang' VW camper and bus festival 2015 that was held at Santa Pod Raceway in Northamptonshire over the weekend of 24th -26th April. Camping for the weekend was available at this 3 day Volkswagen festival and there was plenty of entertainment to keep you occupied including: 2 music arena's, licensed bars, plenty of traders, kids activities, side shows, and of course RWYB (run-what-ya-brung) racing on the drag strip. As the 'Pod' is only about 40 miles from my hometown of Aylesbury I arranged to meet friends of mine, Tonya and Eddie and then drive over together in my 1969 Microbus. The weather forecast wasn't brilliant but we felt confident it would brighten up later in the day. Santa Pod is billed as the Home of European drag racing so as well as getting to see hundreds of cool Volkswagen's, both air-cooled and water cooled we would also hopefully get to watch some 1/4 mile drag racing.
To see all my other blog entries, go to ‘My Blog Archive’ to the left of the page. Simply click on an arrow for a particular year, then click on an arrow for a particular month, this will then give you a drop down menu for all the blog entries for that month.

Upon entering Santa Pod and walking towards
the main area and the track I noticed the lovely
Chianti red early bay. The U.S. import looked
liked a nice clean and straight deluxe bus.

This lovely early beetle was slammed on the
deck, with a very narrow front beam. Those
gorgeous wheels finished off the look of this
stunning looking bug.

This pre '63 looked great from this angle, the
colour suits the car perfectly as does that
negative camber on the rear wheels.

This super bright lime green T4 caught my eye
with it's super bright paint and the stainless

steel bumper bars.

This bronze and orange T5 looked amazing, it 
had had everything colour coded to match the 
exterior, even the engine components.

Just a few variations of the split screen van that
was present at the Big Bang Festival. A normal
bus, a Jurgen Autovilla and an ex-army


The red snow tracked vehicle is powered by an
air-cooled VW engine. 
These were commonly
used years 
ago for work in the Arctic circle,
because it had 
an air-cooled engine therefore
there was no 
dangers of it freezing up. The only
 down side was, due to the weight 
this only had 
a top speed of about 7mph.

There is something about a split screen that has
 the safari screens open that just looks right, and
this white over blue patina'd bus was no different.

This 1969 bay window was at Santa Pod to
participate in the 'run-what-ya-brung' racing. He
was in Class B for air-cooled vans and won his
class with a best time of 16.5714 @ 81.23mph

A very solid looking 1978 late bay painted in the 
Heineken colour's with the sign written sides. 
This really was a nice solid looking late bay.

If you like your split oval beetles slammed on the
floor with bags of patina then this beauty should
satisfy your needs.

The super narrow front end accentuates just
how low this beetle sits. It must have taken the
weather years to create so much cool patina,
but good things come to those who wait.

You can see just how narrow that front end really
is in this photo and also just how low the cars sits
over the rear wheels. I did like the amber indicators
on the door pillars. This bug with all it's charm won

'Best Beetle' at the show.

A stunning 1966 beetle in a light turquoise green
colour with matching colour coded steel wheels.
The chrome Porsche style head light grilles were
a nice addition and matched the chrome trim and
bumpers perfectly and also broke the colour up.

This gorgeous Karmann Ghia was parked up
behind the track and looked stunning in it's
graphite grey colour. Judging by the front vent
grilles and the rear light cluster this KG was
produced sometime between 1955-1959. 

This KG had been lowered and looked as though
it had a narrowed front beam and with the Fuchs
style wheels and the colour, it looked awesome.

This hot-rod themed bug looked great with the
embossed flames on the bonnet and the twin
lights. I do like fenderless beetles and this one
was no exception. The gloss black paint and
the red painted steel wheels with white wall
tyre's is pure nostalgic hot rod. 

The rear end had a 'baja' look to it with the
exposed engine and no rear apron. I did like
those huge rear whitewall tyres on the deep 

dish banded steel wheels.

This gloss black beetle looked amazing with
it's lowered stance, custom wheels and the red
detailing. The Thermadoor swamp cooler (or
a similar version) looked great and is such a
sought after accessory. The unit simply clips
onto the door and provides a simple air
conditioning system that blows cool air into the

The attention to detail and the quality of the paint
finish under the hood was also immaculate. The
contrasting colours worked so well.

The same attention to detail and the quality of
the finish carried on into the engine bay. I did
like the all red rear light lenses with the blue dots.

Another gloss black beetle but this 1958 was
so different from the one above. It looked mostly
stock with painted steel wheels. Again the finish
on the car was incredible and the attention to
detail was amazing.

A beautifully sign written fuel tank with a gold 
script font on the grey paint looked fantastic.

The stock look continued around the back, the
only non standard thing was the painted decal
on the doors, 'Chimay'. I couldn't find out much
about this beetle but Chimay is the location of
the European Bug-In show so maybe this was
 a promotional vehicle for that show? If your
interested in visiting a show abroad check out
the European Bug In website here:

This 1971 chopped and channelled, fenderless
oval beetle looked like something out of the film
'Mad Max' and I loved it. The big wheels looked
like 1940's Ford wheels and the tall cross-ply
white wall tyres suited the overall look perfectly.

The exposed rear end with the twin air filters
protruding the bodywork and the custom rear
lights made this rear end something special.

The interior was very basic with alloy seats and
door panels. The custom alloy dashboard had
what looked a reliant robin instrument cluster. A
very tall gear lever finished off the interior.

The fuel filler has been moved into the roof, why
I hear you ask...?

Because the bomb shaped fuel tank, is mounted 
behind the seats and looked cool and it was 
even painted to resemble a WW2 bomb.

This 1974 beetle had the RAT look with it's
patina'd paint scheme. This bug was seriously
lowered, it may have even been on some form
of air suspension to sit this low and the super
narrow front beam adds to the look.

This pumped up 1972 Karmann Ghia looked
great with it's body kit and it's 'Martini' paint
scheme. A friend and a fellow Outcast VW
Club member Sam, has informed me that
 this has a fiberglass body and is actually
sitting on top of a Porsche 944 chassis.

The rear end with the exhaust exiting out the
side of the body reminds me of a TVR Tuscan
rear end. I'm not sure if this ran down the 1/4

mile track at Santa Pod, but it looks as though
it could have or should have done.

From 1972-1985 a British customising company
Beaujangle, made this buggy and
called it
the Beaujangle Can-Am. Extras included
on this buggy were an alloy framed windshield,
wire mesh engine access panel and an interior
trim kit... whatever that is.!

A lovely profile photo showing the beautiful
classic lines of a lowered Karmann Ghia.

Another vehicle that just oozed patina was this
early oval beetle. The colour under the patina
 was such a nice blue colour. I did like the chrome
wheel trims on this bug.

These oval window beetles were produced from
1953 - 1957 when the larger full width window
was introduced.

This 1943 Type 166  Schwimmwagen
(which means Floating / Swimming car) was 
designed for use by the German ground
forces and used used extensively during the 
second world war. The Type 166 is the most
numerous mass produced amphibious car in
history. The front wheels doubled as rudders
so the steering was done with the steering
wheel both on land and in the water.

The interior of the Type 166 is, as you would
expect extremely sparse. The wooden slats on
the floor helped to keep your feet dry.

When crossing water a screw propeller could
be lowered down from the rear deck engine
cover. When in place a simple coupling provided
drive straight from an extension of the engine's
crankshaft. This meant that screw propulsion was
only available going forward. For reversing in the
water you had the choice of either using the 

standard issued equipment, a paddle or running
 the land drive in reverse, allowing the wheel 
rotation to slowly take the vehicle backwards 
and up the bank of the waterway.

The paddle and shovel were standard equipment
on the Schwimmagen. This amphibious car really

is an amazing piece of engineering that was
designed and built over 70 years ago.

I have seen this beetle on numerous occasions
and it seems to get better looking every time I
see it. It belongs to a guy called 'Seaside Neil'

a very well know figure at Volkswagen shows
as he sign writes and pinstipes almost anything.
His car is an early oval rear window beetle with
some gorgeous patina up over the bonnet, and
across the roof. I do like the big and little tyre
combination which always looks good on an
early beetle.

The darkness of the patina (rust) was almost
mahogany colour and the yellow lenses on the
headlights complimented it perfectly.

This bug must have been somewhere hot for a
long time to produce such nice sun burnt patina.

You can check out Seaside Neil's facebook
page here:!/seaside.neil.9?fref=ts

Looking at vehicles parked up is OK, but it's
not the same as seeing them drive along, as 
they somehow look better as this 1967 early 
bay proves as it cruises past me.

The same applies to this white over red early
split screen as it cruised around the site.

Santa Pod Raceway is billed as the home of
European Drag Racing, and on the Sunday
they had some Outlaw Anglia (Popular's)
racing and as I used to have one of these car's,
 I just had to go and watch for a while. This blown
blue Pop does a wheelie as it powers off the line.

This guy did so well he ended up winning his class.

A couple more Ford Anglia's prepare to race
each other down the 1/4 mile track.

Santa Pod's resident jet car, Fire Force 3 came
out for a run down the 1/4 mile track. This car
has a body based on a Chevrolet Lumina. It
has a Pratt and Witney J60 engine from a
Sirorksy Skycrane Helicopter and produces
5500lbs of very explosive thrust.

The tension is heightening, as the car prepares
to run it produces plumes of smoke and flames,

and a lot of noise.

Almost ready to go.. the noise from this beast
is deafening and I just had time to take this
photo before I had to cover my ears as the car
launched off the line and came whizzing past me.

A mere 6.576 seconds later it's all over. The car
had reached a top speed of 212.81mph in just
1/4 mile from a standing start. 
However this is 
not it's best time, back in 2005 it ran a 5.7 
second pass with a top speed of 336.1mph 
which I believe is a world record that still 
stands today. Why not check out a You
Tube video of The Fire Force 3 jet car, here:

This lovely early barn door split screen looked
great parked up. I wanted to get more photo's
but just as I took this photo, the bus pulled away.

A photo of a pair of Beetle's for no other reason
other than they looked good parked up next to
each other.!

This oval window Beetle took me back to my
customising days back in the 1970's. It featured
frenched indicators and a lovely coat of bright
pink paint.

More frenched indicators on the rear and some
old skool slot mag wheels finish off this blast
from the past perfectly.

This 1966 Beetle was parked up in the camping
area, and it looked as thought it had just driven
out of the VW showroom. It was stunning and
looked to be 100% original.

On the Sunday afternoon we were privileged to
witness a 'fly by' by one of the most recognisable
aircraft in the world, the Spitfire. This WW2 air-
craft is powered by a Rolls Royce Merlin engine
the produces around 1000hp, and even taking a
shot at it from a camera proved difficult. 

Some say that I have an unhealthy fetish for
sign written panel vans and also buses with 
yellow head / spot lights, well this gorgeous
satin light brown split screen panel van had
both and looked awesome.

This bus looks just about perfect from every
angle. The full length roof rack was a nice

After walking around the site for a good few
hours we decided to have a look at the 'Action
arena' where they had several attractions going 

on. One of those attractions was this guy on a 
quad bike performing jumps.

This guy was an ex-motocross champion and
to make the jump more exciting he would add

some freestyle manoeuvres by lifting his legs 
above the handlebars.

Just to make it look more difficult they placed
a monster truck between the ramp and the
landing ramp. The height and distance
this guy
got on his quad bike was very impressive.

For his 'finale' they hung 2 t-shirts off a frame
on the landing ramp and the idea was, as he
made the jump he would grab the 2 shirts in
both hands, which he did successfully. He then
handed the shirts out to 2 of the children in the 
crowd who cheered the  loudest.

Terry Grant was there in his 1937 Ford sedan.
This car is a lightweight version and is powered
by a 1250cc Yamaha engine. To read more
about Terry check out his website:
Terry would perform numerous stunts with his
modified Ford, normally with Terry on the outside
the car which thrilled the crowds.

Terry also performed the two wheel drive but
with a twist. Terry used a new shape beetle for
this stunt, and instead of going solo Terry got
4 members of his crew to also get in the car
 with him, this included one guy in the boot.!

A good shot of the new beetle driving the length
of the arena on two wheels.

The resident Santa Pod Raceway monster
truck named 'Podzilla' was also doing it's bit
in the action arena.

The driver would place his front wheels against
the first vehicle in the row, then give it full throttle
and the beast would leap up and over (well OK

onto) the row of vehicles.

 It was very impressive the height and distance
this monster truck achieved.

This lovely yellow split screen kombi cruised
past me and looked just about perfect.

This stunning bright red split oval window beetle
looked awesome in the sunshine. The black bra
was a nice accessory which is quite rare. I did
like the choice of wheels.

A stunning coat of paint over a super straight
body, finished off with the bright chrome work
of the bumpers. I did like the old skool teardrop
all red rear lights.
That was the Big Bang Camper and Bus Festival
for 2015. Although we only attended for the day
we all had a great time, and the weather was a
lot better than forecast. This is a great show and
if you want to see more of the show check out
this cool video on youtube:

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