Modified V10 Viper VW Camper Van
Simon Bull’s V10 Viper VW Camper Van
“Shit… is that a V8?” Simon Bull looks over at the bloke who’s just posed the question and calmly replies, “No it’s a V10.” Unphased, our uneducated onlooker comes straight back with, “Is it, like, five litres?” With a mild smile, Simon says, “No, it’s eight litres”.
It’s at this point the magnitude of just what Simon Bull has done in his carport in Northamptonshire starts to become clear. You know what a Dodge Viper looks like, right? It looks nothing like this split screen VW single cab pick-up, but then, in all honesty, VW never made anything that looked like this either.
Starting off with bikes, because they’re fast and cheap, Simon started to get into VWs through big festivals like Bug Jam. Since he lives just down the road from Santa Pod and likes the music side of things, it just made sense to build a VW. What he ended up with was also satin black, but a later bay window-type bus with all the running gear from a late 80s BMW 528 in it. Not the obvious thing to do, but Simon isn’t an obvious kind of guy.
Working as an engine test engineer each day means he gets to see some impressive lumps of metal, and when he got to have a good look at the Viper V10, he saw potential. “I saw the engine and thought it would look awesome in a bus. I knew it would look good when you slid the door back.”
Because that’s what you would have thought, right? Us too… Yeah, right. The last time we checked, the local breaker didn’t have any Vipers in. Simon had the same problem, so instead he shipped in a complete crash-damaged Viper minus all its body panels from a specialist in the States.
Deciding the original chassis was made from old exhausts and welded together with camel jizz, he binned that and kept everything else. He means everything, too: switches, wiring, wheels and tyres, seats, radiators and even the ignition key are all Viper.
Remember Simon said it would look good when the door slid back? This is obviously a pickup, though. The reason is simple: Simon built the VW in the carport next to his house, meaning a full-size body would have been a breaker – plus he loves pickups. Time between shift work and weekends was spent crafting the chassis and body in any and all weathers. If you want numbers, rough maths works out that over 3,500 man hours and three years went into building it.
It’ll bend your mind if you really think about how much effort and skill went into this bus – shit, it’s not even a bus so much as a V10-engined supercar that’ll take two people north of 150mph with only the road in front of you.
So, given it’s virtually all Viper, how does it handle and go now? “At best, I get about 19mpg, but at 70mph it’s running at 1500rpm, so I would say a realistic top speed is about 160mph. I’ve been to 145mph and it did that easily. Even so, at 140mph in sixth it’s still running only 3000rpm; sixth is horrendously over-geared.”
Simon says that’s about as fast as he’d like to go, and we don’t blame him. Now he has his ‘flower power van that looks like it’ll rip your head off’, we’d hate to see it damaged in the pursuit of high-speed glory.
The concept for this pickup is freaky enough, but the satin/ matt finish, Viper rims and slab sides are plain rude. It’s hard to understand where this sort of thing comes from or how Simon even came to the conclusion it would work, but we’re glad he did. If you think big, why not try to think a little bigger… then you might get close.