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Catch a Wave with This Curvy VW Bus

Auto Shows, Builders, Community, Events  /   /  By Mark Bach

Ron Berry from St. George, Utah admits that he’s “obsessed, this is my addiction” and his handicraft produced a one of a kind VW styled bus that is definitely unique.  Plus the engine that powers this cartoonish vehicle has a deep connection with Berry’s early drag racing roots.

Even as a youth Berry enjoyed drawing cars but they always had a cartoonish feel to them.  He has built all sorts of cars and kid’s toys, including bathtub go-karts, doggie carts and even bi-plane styled toys. A few years back he decided if he ever was going to build cars specifically based on his own drawings, he better start now.

VW Bus, Surf Seeker | Ron Berry

Berry built in 2009 a similar styled 1939 Ford Woody and this is the second “cartoon style” car that he has crafted.  He debuted it this January at the Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, CA. Berry always incorporates some surf elements into his designs, as he loved surfing as a youth and still surfs whenever he reaches a coastline. Berry always seeks out iconic cars with unique design and features, sketches out his ideas and starts to work.  For the VW bus, he felt the 23-window style is eye catching (his actually has 24) and the drip rail and the belt line are focal points for the VW design.

VW Bus, Surf Seeker | Ron Berry

Berry started working on this bus in 2010 and spent a total of 17 months working on the bus.  He did all the body work himself, except for the paint which was done by Rick Sheley of SKJ Customs in nearby Washington, UT. The paint is PPG’s Orange Glow and White Pearl Prismic.

Some of the mechanicals end up being changed as his work evolves.  The front hinges open like a BMW Isetta, but Berry stated that he only went to that design when he saw that a regular front side door just would not fit or look right with the wheels and the 72-inch wheel base. He spent hours setting up the rear skid wheels that retract from the rear end and are like skateboards. The wavy belt line trim was built by Berry in fiberglass and then chromed.

VW Bus, Surf Seeker | Ron Berry

As he was working on the bus he hadn’t decided on a power plant.  Turbo’s had been done before and didn’t appeal to him.  He happened upon a YouTube video of a VW that was using a blower and eventually traced it to Las Vegas.  He went there and bought the power plant for his VW bus.  As he researched it, he found out that the engine was crafted by long time Pro Stock drag racer “Dandy” Dick Landy and utilized a B&M blower.  The Dick Landy Industries (DLI) markings are still visible on the engine. The 2275cc engine uses a mild 7 to 1 compression and a 12-pound blower to produce 209 horses on the dyno.

Turns out that after Landy left drag racing, he was working on racing VW’s and joined with B&M to create the engine set up.  Berry isn’t sure how many engines still exist, but understands they are quite rare. It turns out that Berry often drag raced against Landy at the historic Lions Drag Strip for several years. Berry raced from 1955 to 1972, primarily quarter midgets.  Now Landy’s engine powers Berry’s creation, which he labeled the Surf Seeker.

But Berry also uses simple off the shelf solutions in the bus.  Those 24-inch wheels are simple Panther wheels that he bought for $150.  And the wood in the interior of the bus?  Came straight from Home Depot’s kiln dried pine woodwork.

VW Bus, Surf Seeker | Ron Berry

This year at the Grand National Roadster Show, he took first place in his class.  Berry now has several plans spinning in his head and we might soon see a ‘57 T-Bird or a ‘49 Anglia.  Just know it won’t be stock!

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route 66 pub co. From overviews of trends in the automotive industry to penetrating looks at car shows, auctions and classic car trends we offer readers a unique perspective with a mix of irreverence and off the wall humor. Check out other articles at Route66PubCo.com.
About the Author

Mark C. Bach has oil in his veins and remembers feeler gauges and brake springs. He has a love for all things that move, especially old-school muscle cars. Bach writes for a variety of outlets, including Chevy Classics and FuelCurve.com, and maintains Route66pubco.com.

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47 Comments
 
  1. art classics March 11, 2015 at 7:15 pm Reply

    CHECK THIS OUT ……VERY COOL

    • WINCHESTERJAKE March 22, 2015 at 9:50 pm Reply

      B B B B BBBBB BAD TO THE BONE!!!!!!!!!

    • stanley stalvey April 2, 2015 at 12:15 pm Reply

      By far and wide the most impressive VW I have ever seen. It’s Groovey Man.!

  2. Larry March 12, 2015 at 7:26 pm Reply

    The coolest thing I ever saw. Maybe next time a axle,maybe a little rat fink. Keep up the great work.

  3. Lil ricky March 13, 2015 at 7:54 pm Reply

    Any links of this sweet thing in motion , on the road !! Plzzzzz sharev

  4. Bailey March 13, 2015 at 10:09 pm Reply

    One word,————–>WOW !

  5. VF March 22, 2015 at 4:18 am Reply

    Nice! Very Cool!
    As comment above said; Any links of this sweet thing in motion?

  6. Kathy March 22, 2015 at 5:03 am Reply

    Cool! But I have some concerns about safety. Number 1, where are the seat belts and air bags?? Number 2, How the heck do you get in behind the steering wheel and close the front door! And like with all autos that have the engine in the rear, pray you never have a front end collision! But all in all, its still a pretty cool looking van.

    • bucket March 23, 2015 at 2:21 pm Reply

      do you think your suberbian helmet would help as a big truck ran you down on your bike.

      its all relative, hang loose no worries I will take your unclaimed fun from here.

      • sour milk March 25, 2015 at 2:13 pm Reply

        ^^^hahaha

    • dave March 27, 2015 at 4:12 am Reply

      @Kathy. WHY are there ALLWAYS people like you that cant see the beauty of this veewee? all you do is BITCH about safety and seat belts. do you think this will be a daily driver? NO!! go go back to cleaning bathrooms and cooking your man food. GEEZ ALLWAYS A BONE HEAD IN THE CROWD.

      • Robert March 27, 2015 at 6:08 am Reply

        Amen Dave!!!!

    • Mik April 26, 2015 at 1:14 pm Reply

      You do realize this never came with airbags? Since it’s a VW, the engine was always in the rear. Depending on the year model, some cars in the US never came with seat belts. Also, it’s a show car for cripes sake. Just enjoy it for what it is and don’t pick it apart. That is unless your custom cars are so much better and employ all the latest safety features?

    • C.D April 27, 2015 at 2:16 pm Reply

      Kathy you need to stay in your Prius where you are safe

    • Bobby April 27, 2015 at 8:04 pm Reply

      This is art not for driving to the grocery store..or picking up the kids from soccer practice..

  7. jensan March 22, 2015 at 8:05 am Reply

    fab fab one of a kind would love to see it in the real,only thing is a safety thing if you have a full on collision you are a bit of a sitting duck,but it,s great iv got a love for this van but as im a wheel chair user but do drive it,s beyond my expectations to ever have one but i think it,s great

  8. Ponchonutty March 22, 2015 at 11:34 am Reply

    Here’s the video on youtube. This guys is a genius custom builder. What wouldn’t I give to hang out with him for a day just to pick his mind!!!!

    Kathy, This is a custom car that is actually a ’65 VW Bus. Seatbelts optional and airbags only sat in the back in the 60’s

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcgPuj5jt4I

  9. roe March 22, 2015 at 12:07 pm Reply

    I sincerely doubt it’s street legal. The engine and rims are absurd. Paint, woodwork and upholstery is very nice.

    Sometimes less is more. A fully restored Microbus with that paint job, woodwork, upholstery with a vintage surfboard would be far more attractive.

    • Neeter Lou March 23, 2015 at 6:40 pm Reply

      Ummm, I can’t think of anything slower than a Vdub bus. I hated always getting stuck behind one. In my (near) hippie days, I disdained them!

      Does a “blower” go fater than an old bus?

      Yeah, it would be so cool to have a cartoon car, if you can figure out how to get around the gear shift and put feet below steering wheel. And have lots of private roads to drive it on. It’s so low to the ground it would not make it over the most miniscule speed hump. But charm, that “awww” factor, it’s got those!

      My questions:

      What is the thing sticking up by what I assume to be the gear shift? Black and just to the right of it?

      Where are the clutch, brake and gas pedal. It does run on gas, right?

      What ARE the mini skate boards deployed in the rear FOR? Decoration? Elfin hitchhikers? Article says “rear skid wheels”. Huh? How are they deployed?

      DO THE WINDOWS OPEN?

      All cred and admiration to the little kid who could doodle cute cartoonish cars. Then grow up and make enough money to have an awesome hobby. And then turn those cartoons into complex three D objects almost large enough for a human to fit in. Without an engineering degree? Certainly some kind engineering work, to be able to go from vision to reality and solve so many problems along the way. And with just a little help from his friends.

      Disney should build the dumb cars in “Cars” the movie, using this guy, and sell them. Except it was a boring movie. He could make them even cuter and probably make them talk, too.

      Now I have to find out if this is actually for sale somewhere on Ebay.

      • Dennis March 24, 2015 at 3:29 am Reply

        My 2Cents says its a beautiful piece of art to show the world.
        It is the wave you think about as you ride to the beach.
        Has a lot of memories in the van for me a beautiful wave.
        Great work I can feel the wave.
        Dennis

      • Dennis March 24, 2015 at 3:31 am Reply

        parking brake

      • brandon March 26, 2015 at 9:04 pm Reply

        That black thing would be the ebrake how old are you?As for everybody bashing this guy man haters.This shouldnt be slow is has a blower aka super charger i love vw buses only good thing vw ever made GOOD JOB this guy isnt a guy crying on his death bed saying i shoulda built my dream cars hes living his dream

    • Neeter Lou March 23, 2015 at 6:40 pm Reply

      Ummm, I can’t think of anything slower than a Vdub bus. I hated always getting stuck behind one. In my (near) hippie days, I disdained them!

      Does a “blower” go faster than an old bus?

      Yeah, it would be so cool to have a cartoon car, if you can figure out how to get around the gear shift and put feet below steering wheel. And have lots of private roads to drive it on. It’s so low to the ground it would not make it over the most miniscule speed hump. But charm, that “awww” factor, it’s got those!

      My questions:

      What is the thing sticking up by what I assume to be the gear shift? Black and just to the right of it?

      Where are the clutch, brake and gas pedal. It does run on gas, right?

      What ARE the mini skate boards deployed in the rear FOR? Decoration? Elfin hitchhikers? Article says “rear skid wheels”. Huh? How are they deployed?

      DO THE WINDOWS OPEN?

      All cred and admiration to the little kid who could doodle cute cartoonish cars. Then grow up and make enough money to have an awesome hobby. And then turn those cartoons into complex three D objects almost large enough for a human to fit in. Without an engineering degree? Certainly some kind engineering work, to be able to go from vision to reality and solve so many problems along the way. And with just a little help from his friends.

      Disney should build the dumb cars in “Cars” the movie, using this guy, and sell them. Except it was a boring movie. He could make them even cuter and probably make them talk, too.

      Now I have to find out if this is actually for sale somewhere on Ebay.

  10. MUSE March 22, 2015 at 4:44 pm Reply

    Paints are nice. Like all those windows. Interesting concept car. Problem I have is that, when I look at it as a whole, it appears to have a severe stomach cramp and my stomach hurt for it. Is it seasick? Glad it isn’t green.

    • Puckles March 22, 2015 at 11:03 pm Reply

      Shut up, lady.

  11. 'PITZY' BABY March 23, 2015 at 1:09 pm Reply

    I LOVE IT THIS IS ONE OF A KIND..
    I WOULD CALL IT A PIECE OF ART;

  12. 4j3k March 24, 2015 at 12:43 pm Reply

    VW should already be selling something like this right now, as retro-look AND micro-wagons are hot right now. THIS IS a piece of art though. Awesome. P.S. concerned with front end collision? you’ve obviously never been in a stock van: equally…unsubstantial. But still fun!

  13. mark March 24, 2015 at 4:08 pm Reply

    that vw bus is very rare front opens for driver those types have to be in the high 100k or higher if I had that I would not drive it I would put that in a sealed glass case put jack stands under it to keep the tires from going bad

  14. Paul Bunyun's Wiener March 25, 2015 at 2:17 pm Reply

    Looks like an owl

  15. MARCELPECOSO March 27, 2015 at 12:15 pm Reply

    ONE QUESTION, CAN YOU SHOW THE UNDERSIDE OF YOUR BUS? VERY NICE, REMINDS ME WHEN I WAS A CHILD PUTTING MY LITTLE RED WAGON MODEL CAR OR TRUCK TOGETHER, SO EXCITED.’

  16. Keithly55 March 28, 2015 at 7:19 pm Reply

    I DIG IT MAN.. IT IS GROOVY…

  17. Herb March 28, 2015 at 10:30 pm Reply

    Barry you are a genius and a real craftsman! Great job! Just great!

  18. Bob April 2, 2015 at 12:42 pm Reply

    Great work. True craftsmanship by a very talented individual or team.

    This is part of Americana Culture and I still appreciate it.

    I try to ignore comments by individuals who probably can’t figure out hot to check their own car oil yet find time for stupid comments.

  19. Mike April 2, 2015 at 3:33 pm Reply

    I believe this VW took a lot of planning,fabricating, + replanning, refabricating + a lot of brainwork just to figure the dimensions, + the detail of the tremendous amount of thought that would had to have taken place just to think this through, let alone actually build it.My hats off to you the builder for the imagination just to create such a exquisite piece of work. I LOVE the VWs of yesteryear + todays VWs but the simplicity of the old skool VWs gave a lot of room for imagination as this most beautiful CLASSIC shows so very well. Ive seen a lot of VW builds in my time, even owned a few, but this one is the BEST Ive ever seen, I would just like to ride in it. Hell I wouldn’t even care about getting hit in it that way I could go back in my past + see my future in one ride, try topping that! EXCELLENT JOB! Lets get started on the next one right away, 10-4!

  20. red heeler April 2, 2015 at 6:52 pm Reply

    What a piece of crap. Talk about a waste of time and money. Knock it in the head with a 3′ Victor and send it back to china

  21. AAMCO Transmissions Total Car Care of Howell April 8, 2015 at 1:52 pm Reply

    That is a pretty sweet VW van! It’s awesome when people can express their own unique twists on classic vehicles like this.

  22. Bill April 26, 2015 at 6:46 pm Reply

    THIS IS TOTALY AWESOME. I SEEN IT THIS YEAR AT THE BOISE IDAHO ROADSTER SHOW. YOU GOT TO SEE IT IN PERSON 1 OF A KIND MAN

  23. Ralph April 27, 2015 at 4:46 pm Reply

    IMAGINE!! For me, that says it all.

  24. Mark April 27, 2015 at 7:46 pm Reply

    Very good looking bus ( magic bus) I love cars and by far one of the nicest ones I’ve seen great work this guy knows custom as any one can see. I must say great job Berry you have great talent!

  25. LITTLEFROGGS April 28, 2015 at 4:51 pm Reply

    BEST CUSTOM OF THE TOP 10 OF ALL TIME—!!!~~~

  26. Clinton April 30, 2015 at 8:23 am Reply

    Incredible craftsmanship; this is one I’d like to see in person for the detail. But the question is why? It looks ridiculous and I would be caught dead in it.

    • Mike April 30, 2015 at 9:00 am Reply

      Answer “because it’s unique and dope you moron.”

    • Dave May 2, 2015 at 7:04 am Reply

      Clinton, what IS ridiculous is that you wrote that you “would” be caught dead in it instead of wouldn’t. The “why?” is because it was a vision in his mind that materialized after months of hard work. Something that unless you possess an artist’s inner eye you will never get. Visions turn into obsessions with light at the end of the tunnel. It’s very satisfying, trust me.

      He won his division in Pomona GNRS, so obviously the talented judges there know original work like that is worth acknowledging at the highest level.

      I had four ’65 Chevy vans that are very similar in design for driving and lack of front-end safety except that design had a very hot engine between the seats. I lived through cross country traffic, west to east coast just fine for years.

      I took my California driver’s license test in a VW bus at 16 and scored a 100. That was after parallel parking and backing up straight 100 feet per DMV instructions. It’s not that tough to maneuver if you love to drive anything that moves. That VW Bus was the family daily driver, so that’s all I had. This one is so very cool and very original. I would love to drive it any day just for the fun factor if it actually is street legal over a stinkin’ Smart Car for my chances in an accident. And those ARE legal.

      The GNRS is a great event and worth putting on a bucket list some year. You won’t be let down, and the guys will answer your questions as to why all day long. It beats sitting on a couch all day asking why you didn’t make more of a statement in life at the end!

  27. dan May 1, 2015 at 12:55 pm Reply

    very cool….hey hot wheels….when is the replica being released?

  28. TOUCH404 May 2, 2015 at 5:15 am Reply

    FUKEN GRUVEN MAN!! Far Out….

  29. Mike June 15, 2016 at 6:47 pm Reply

    Ron Berry is a true artist, completely amazing

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