The Rise and Fall of Ruby Woo

So, after buying Ruby, we asked around on the SSVC forum to see if anyone knew her. After all, there are a finite amount of splitties in the world, so it stood to reason that someone on the forum might have owned her previously. Also, she came with an SSVC sticker in the windscreen, so we knew her previous owners had been members.

We soon had a message from Glenn, who bought her in 1994:


He told us: “I bought the van in 94 from Spencer Ballis, it had suffered from a 70’s camper conversion complete with devon pop top and long bay window style windows, so that lot was first on the list to go, Spencer kindly had the gear box with the reduction boxes re-built before I bought it, I bolted up a Kadron equipped 1641, lowered it on polished Porsche Fuchs and tooled around it it for the next few years.”

Here’s another picture of her at Run to the Sun in 1997:


And more photos with friends’ buses from around 1986-87:


This picture shows the reason for Ruby’s previous name – The Mambo Bus!




Ruby with pop top, and the owners of the bus behind her also came and said hello in our thread.

As well as asking on the forum, I also wrote a letter to Marc, who restored the bus and sold her to Pat who we bought her from. We were made up to get a reply from Marc and Nikki, who sent us some brilliant photos of her restoration.







She was in need of some TLC. Well, welding actually. Lots of welding.







All stripped down and ready for rubbing:





Rusty parts cut away:



New parts welded into place:









In primer:







Being resprayed:









Steering rack and bits:





So, wow! In some ways she has changed so much, but in other ways, she is recognisable straight away as the same bus. We’d love to see photographs of her in her earlier days. We’ve contacted the DVLA to see what other information we can find about her. We know from her M Plate that she was due to roll off the factory line on 14th February 1967, was light gray and was destined for Ramsgate. She was first registered in the UK in March 1967. I wonder what she did before she became a camper?

Do you have a bus with an interesting past?

Are you one of Ruby’s former owners?

Let us know in the comments!


16 thoughts on “The Rise and Fall of Ruby Woo

  1. Pingback: VW Campervan Curtains | Adventures in a Campervan

  2. Blimey!

    I know this van. My dad bought her as a panel van way back in the early 70’s from a garage in Coltishall Norfolk.
    He cut all of the windows himself. He made a mould from timber to make the elevating roof from fibreglasss and got Jeckles of Wroxham (a chandler) to make the PVC parts. He made all of the furniture inside, then resprayed it himself orange and white.

    Now all this seems a bit odd as the van in these images seems to have no windows in it. Perhaps the registration got switched..

    I am 52 now, we holidayed around the UK throughout the mid 70’s. I particularly remember touring the country of two weeks in the blisteringly hot summer of 1976.
    He sold it at the end of the 70s for… £600!

    Will try and find some images of her back then.

    • Hi Ian, thanks for your message!

      That’s brilliant – how did you find this post? I’m so pleased to hear from another former owner.

      I think Glenn restored the van to a panel and removed the windows and pop top, it is definitely the same van, as it has it’s M Plate and I have DVLA paperwork.

      The earliest record we have from the DVLA is that Jack Adams bought the van in June 1977, he lived in Norwich. It had a few owners in Norwich until Spencer Bayliss bought it in 1993, and sold it to Glenn as mentioned above.

      We’d love to see some photographs of her back then if you can find them, that would be ace!

      Thanks for getting in touch!

  3. My partner and I are in the throes of restoring a 1981 VW T25. Will be a while yet but we intend to visit as many shows and meets as we are able to.
    We were at Dubfreeze and Bustypes this year (sorry to say in a Toyota Prius!) and I always keep an eye out for LPW 219E but failed to spot her. Where you there? Mind you, I was of course looking for an orange and white van with a pop top.

    • Great to hear that you’re restoring a T25!

      We were at Dubfreeze and Bus Types, but Dubfreeze we were in our Beetle, and at Bus Types we were in the far camping field (through the show and through the tunnel and right at the far end of the field) so we wouldn’t have been easy to find!

      We’re at Dubs at the Castle next weekend, and will hopefully be at Tatton Park, VW Festival and BusFest. Hope to catch up with you at a show!

  4. Had to laugh at Glenn’s comment:
    “it had suffered from a 70′s camper conversion complete with devon pop top and long bay window style windows, so that lot was first on the list to go”

    Different strokes for different folks.

    All I can say is that Dad did a brilliant job in turning a working van into a holiday bus for us kids – although Glenn’s point that she was adulterated maybe today well founded. But then VW panel vans were not as affectionately revered as they are today. You wouldn’t get the same reaction by someone who did it to a Ford transit or Commer of the day… or would you?

    Hope you don’t mind me taking valuable blog space but I am so thrilled to know she is still living and breathing.

  5. Not at all – we’re thrilled to find out some more about her history!

    As you say, panel vans have only fairly recently become more popular, and for camping with kids in the back, windows are a must. It’s a bit different now they’re older and rarer, but all sorts of mods were done to vans to make them useable. At the end of the day, your van is your van, and you can only do what keeps you happy, and forget about everyone else. If you try to please everyone, you’ll be a long time trying!

  6. Have tried to add some pics without success it seems. If you are able to let me have your email address somehow, I will send links to you.

    • Hi Ian – we’ve been away in the van this weekend in South Wales, so sorry for only getting back to you now. Great to hear that you’ve found some photos. I’ve sent you my email address in a Facebook message (it will have gone to your ‘other’ folder probably.)

  7. Pingback: The Rise and Fall of Ruby Woo Part 2 | Adventures in a Campervan

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