About 2 months ago, I sat down and started calling local body shops to see about starting my "Daddy's Bus" project. I called about 5 of them, left messages, and waited. A week later no one had returned my call. Then I got a call from Mike Lopez of Twins Auto Body and Paint. He told me to bring my bus in and he'd take a look at it. I drove to his shop in North Denver the next day.
The first 1/2 hour with Mike was somewhat mesmerizing - we talked about the bus, how I got it, what I wanted to do, etc. The whole time, he was running his hands all over it - almost caressing it in a sense. Mike and I had a great conversation and it ended with him saying it was in great shape and he'd love to work on it. I asked him how much - and he gave me a quote of $4800 - $5500. I thought this was just for the body work, and it sounded pretty reasonable. He then proceeded to tell me that this was for the whole ball of wax: body work and paint. I was expecting to spend 5K on body, 5K on paint, and 5 on interior, so this was music to my ears.
At this point, I got bold. "How much for show quality?", I asked. 8-9K was his answer. I was very excited at this point because he was telling me the prices I wanted to hear. The major difference b/w "show quality" and "regular" is that they do everything for show quality - including smoothing/painting the interior and bottom of the rig. Mike had me sold at this point, but I still didn't trust that he might be the guy to help me restore the bus. At that point, he invited me into his shop, where my gaze fell upon a plethora of beautiful VWs: a Carman Gia, 3 Bugs and an old Bus (same year as mine) with a truck bed. All were in various stages of restoration, but it was obvious that Mike knew what he was doing. We discussed getting my bus ready, and our conversation ended with me saying I'd call him when I had it stripped and ready for sandblasting.
It's been hard finding time and motivation to start working on the bus - but I managed to do it today. I started by ripping out the interior, and managed to get most of it done. I still need to drop the engine and remove all the windows - but I think I can do both of those in a couple of days. With any luck, I'll have the bus in Mike's shop by December. Estimated time to complete body work and paint: 6 months to a year. Once he's done with the body work and paint, I expect it'll take me another year to finish the interior, mechanical and electrical. With any luck, I'll have a brand new '66 bus before the New Bus is available.
Here's a bunch of before and after pictures from what I did today.