We bought a 1985 VW Vanagon from a friend. He originally told us he wanted to sell it for $2100...which I understand is a good price. But we really didn't need the van so paying that much for something we didn't need was not going to happen. Than 6 months later he offered us the van again for $1000, then it went down to $500. He didn't want to sell it on Craigslist and have a ton of people come over to his house to dicker with him. It was in some disrepair and he knew that people would give him a hard time and try to get him to lower the price. So we ended up buying the van.
Once we got it home we needed to get a new battery, it was still having some starting issues so we had a new starter put in...that cost was $575. We knew we needed to put some money into the van so that cost was not out of the question. After the first repair I decided that it was time to commit to this vehicle and redo the interior...as it was really rough.
Since the van was blue I decided that jean material was the way to go. Used Jeans are easy to locate (I already had a large bin of used jeans) and the material will stand up as upholstery. We started by pulling out the seats. The seat part of the back seat was shot so we ordered a new piece of foam. I started on the large piece of foam that was part of the bed in the very back. The cover was a zippered slip case and the foam was still in good condition. I decided to reuse some of the slipcase...at least the zipper part of the slip case (I really don't like to install zippers and this was a 6 ft zipper).
The cover came out a little wonky but still worked. I pieced together used jeans for the top of the slipcase, trying to use some of my more interesting old jeans. For the back of the pad I used one large piece of jean material because I had a large bolt of jean material that a friend gave us about 5 years ago. Once the back pad was done I started on seats. I patched together some jean material to and stitched the material to the slipcase for the back seat. The layers of material were quite thick but I was able to make it work.
Then the foam for the seat part of the back seat came in and it was just a matter of stapling the material to the seat.
Now with all the seats and pads covered we turned our focus to the ugly side panels. I started to pull the panels off and discovered that they were made of actual paneling. I patched together some jean material on some of the panels and used large piece of material from the bolt of jean material on others. I spray mounted the panels and then stuck the jean material to the panels. I used metal binding clips to hold the material on as I turned and glued the material on the panels. I really wanted to use some of the more interesting pieces of used jean to show off that I used recycled jeans. I kept a pocket on a a couple of pairs of jeans that can be useful on one of the panels and on one of the pads. I used some jeans that someone did a really nice piece of embroidery on the leg and I used some jeans that were covered in embroidery stars.
After we got it all recovered we took it for a run. Now another problem arose...the clutch was going out and we were not able to get the van up to 50 mph on the freeway. So back to the repair shop for a new clutch...and a couple other minor items like belts and such..that cost $650.
So now we are out about $1700 for the van, less that the $2100 our friend origionally wanted for the van and it's in better shape.
The best out come of this story is we sold the VW for a lot more than we paid, we were done with trips to the mechanic, and it was getting expensive. We decide that we could cut our loses on this one. Oh well there will be other vans for us to fix up and go camping .