Is there a limit to how luxurious and modern you can make a Bay Window? If there is, then this Bus, from specialists Danbury, is probably it! Known as Project 1, it’s a demonstration of just what can be done within the confines of the venerable Bay Window shell. Unlike some of the monstrosities to have come out of various TV shows, this is a top end custom ‘wagen that doesn’t look like a collision between Max Power and a bag of racing stripes.
The guys at Danbury kicked the project off by plucking a brand new Brazilian-built Bus from their forecourt. A solid base with a modern engine, Danbury produce a host of Camper conversions based on these Buses and, it has to be said, the little 1.4-litre water-cooled lump is a reliable bit of kit, even if its performance won’t exactly set the world on fire. But this project isn’t about performance, it’s about luxury, and every creature comfort you can imagine.
Just because it is based on a brand new vehicle, don’t think for a minute that Project 1 was simply an interior makeover, the work goes a lot deeper than that. To start with the shell received a full repaint in brilliant white and gloss black, with details such as the headlight rims and radiator grille colour coded to match. The effect is decidedly modern, but somehow fits with the retro lines of a Bay (it also goes someway towards disguising that Marmite radiator grille!) .
There are also a host of other features that may not be immediately apparent, like the painted wing mirrors and the BMW-esque ‘shark fin’ aerial, all of which ooze attention to detail.
With such a striking exterior, it should come as no surprise that the stance of Project 1 received some fairly substantial fettling. The most important part of this recipe is the wheel choice – in this case a set of 17-inch Fuchs replicas, colour coded with the top of the Bus, then set off with a neat orange pinstripe. The look is very reminiscent of that often seen on Porsche race cars, but on a Bus? In this case, it most definitely works.
With any vehicle, however, it is the ride height that makes or breaks the overall look, and that’s something the guys and Danbury were acutely aware of. So, to ensure Project 1 was not guilty of any ride height faux pas, the chassis has been subject to some pretty extensive chopping. To get the wheels to sit just so in the arches, the rear spring plates have been rotated two splines on the torsion bars, with the chassis legs notched to accommodate the driveshafts and suspension arms. To allow fine tuning of the height, the spring plates have been replaced with adjustable items.
The front came in for a similar whack with the lowering stick, and now sports a custom made adjustable beam. No old school imperial narrowing here though, it has lost exactly 83mm from its width to accommodate the fat rolling stock.
To finish off and keep everything in check over the bumps, the dampers have all been replaced with custom-valved Spax units, designed specifically to deal with the weight of a Bus.
If you are thinking that the exterior and chassis spec is comprehensive, it’s nothing compared to the work that has gone into the interior. The word ‘custom’ doesn’t do it justice! In fact, there is very little inside to give away this Bay’s humble origins, and the fixtures and fittings would be more at home in the back of a Rolls Royce or Maybach. Starting at the front, the entire dashboard has been smoothed out, with the speedo pod subject to some serious customisation including colour coding to match the bodywork and some rather fetching blue illumination. The dash has also been cut to accommodate a massive ‘double DIN’-sized head unit that not only plays music, but also doubles as a DVD player, sat nav and makes the tea too )okay, maybe not the last one).
Pick the buckets
The dowdy standard seating has also been consigned to the bin, replaced with some sporty buckets, again in eye-catching orange. There are a host of other trick details in the cab, but the highlights have to be the carbon fibre effect door cards, complete with motorsport-esque fabric openers and that gorgeous Momo suede-wrapped steering wheel.
The rear of Project 1 is even more extreme, cramming every conceivable convenience in to the Bay’s living area. Keeping with the luxury theme, the roof has not one but two electric sunroofs nestled in the custom headliner, which comes complete with built-in LED lighting. It’s all very Limo pimp.
Despite its appearance, this Bus remains a fully functional Camper. Hidden away in the finely crafted units is a selection of mod cons, including a hob/grill, fridge, water storage and a 240v converter. Oh, and a 32-inch Sony Bravia TV, yup, 32-inches – the same size you would have in your living room! The rear seats, trimmed to match the fronts of course, can be swivelled to provide a full in-car cinema experience as the screen appears from a hidden hatch controlled by an electric actuator, rising up from under the bed. Yes, the bed. After all, a camper is no use if you can’t sleep in it, is it? And despite the vast pile of gear in this Bus, Danbury have managed to squeeze a full 6ft bed in there too. It slides out over the units, but is completely hidden when not in use. Everything else inside is trimmed or painted to match the colour-coded theme, and sleeping in Project 1 must be akin to living in a spaceship.
To finish this mammoth spec off, the interior also hides no less than six Kenwood speakers and a sub woofer, providing more than enough power to drown out the kids in the back (not that you would want to put kids in it, sticky fingers and all of that irritation).
This creation may not be to everyone’s taste, or for that matter pocket (it would set you back the best part of 55 grand to have built) but, to be fair, the spec would put a similar priced executive saloon to shame, and there is no denying it is a demonstration of just what can be done with a Bay Window.
Show and go?
The price may be staggering, but in reality is not far off that of a new T5 California. Admittedly, these have more space and vastly improved performance, but the interior spec doesn’t even come close to that of Project 1, built by the industrious lads at Danbury.