How to Restore a 1974 VW Camper

Written by zach lazzari
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How to Restore a 1974 VW Camper
The 1974 VW van is a classic camper. (minibus volkswagen, image by bacalao from

All 1974 VW camper models have a sink, ice box, couch/bed and the option for a pop-top. The camper also has storage cabinets and individual front and passenger seats that swivel to face the couch. The design maximises the space available and can be used for short or long camping trips. Before you begin restoring the camper portion of the vehicle, do all of the work required to restore the body and engine.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • PVC plumbing
  • PVC glue
  • Water pump
  • Water reservoir
  • Cabinet faces
  • Carpet
  • Cushions
  • Tent fabric

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  1. 1

    Raise the pop-top and inspect the interior of the camper for water damage and mould. Remove all infested wood, carpet, upholstery and tent fabric. Use a blade to cut out material and a hammer to remove wood panels.

  2. 2

    Inspect the plumbing for damage and fill the water reservoir. Test the sink to check the water pump operation. Inspect the propane tank and hose for a seal of approval with a service date. Outdated propane tanks must be serviced or replaced.

  3. 3

    Replace any damaged plumbing with PVC. Use PVC joints and PVC glue to make new connections. Replace the water pump and reservoir then fill the reservoir and test the sink.

  4. 4

    Remove any damaged wood panels on the sink, bed and cabinets. Replace them with matching panels that can be special-ordered or use 1/4-inch plywood with a varnish finish.

  5. 5

    Replace the tent material used in the pop-top. The tent must be special-ordered for the correct dimensions. Order new tent material with pre-installed windows to add value to your camper.

  6. 6

    Use a sander to remove all of the glue from the interior floor. Sweep out the interior of the van. Place new carpet glue on the floor and lay down new carpet. Use a blade to trim the edges for a clean finish.

  7. 7

    Replace the cushions on the couch/bed or re-cover them with new upholstery.

Tips and warnings

  • You can replace the ice box with a modern mini-fridge to update the van, or you can simply clean out the ice box and use it as a cooler.
  • Check all of the fuel lines and connections to ensure propane is not leaking from the stove.

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