With 450bhp on tap, Ruud Janssen’s modified VW Type 147 delivery van is one package we’d love to sign for.
Our mate Ruud Janssen has dedicated the last 10 years of his life to not just rebuilding but reinventing his classic Type 147. “What the fudge is a Type 147?” Well let me tell you. Nicknamed the Fridolin, the Type 147 Kleinlieferwagen (little van) started production in 1964 as a German delivery van. The van was made up from various VW parts including, Beetles and VW transporters. It rolled out of the factory with an air-cooled 1,200cc lump that pushed out a devastating 35bhp. It’s a rare beast too, with only around 200 Fridolins left out of the 6,139 that were built. If you managed to find one, you’d be mental to do anything but restore it to its original spec, right?
The van was hanging when Ruud found it. The complete front end was missing, along with the rear axle. Ruud is a mechanic by trade though, so a few major parts missing here and there was never going to put him off!
However, the project went backwards before it could go forward. Everything that was still intact was stripped down. If it was too rusty or damaged beyond repair, then it was chucked in the bin and replaced with new parts. Unfortunately you can’t just log onto eBay and pick up parts for a 1969 model Fridolin. Instead most of the parts were hand made by Ruud himself using sheet metal. Both front and rear bumpers have had their brackets removed so they sit flush with the body of the van. The rear lights have been swapped out for older Type 1 bus lights. Other than that the exterior remains as VW intended, small and boxy!
For the engine, Ruud had big plans, but first he’d have to prep the chassis. The only way the van would be able to cope with big power was to replace the entire chassis with a strong lightweight tube frame version. Days were spent welding the frame together to make it strong but keep it lightweight – much like myself!
The front axle is created from a cocktail of VW, Opel, Ford and Audi parts. The suspension itself uses a three-way adjustable coilovers with pushrod system. It looks the bollocks too, the coilovers run vertically under the bonnet either side of a well- placed race spec fuel tank and a pair of QSP fuel pumps. The rear setup is just as mind-blowing as the front and uses double A-frame wishbones and parts from an Audi A6 4motion.
The combo of tubular frame chassis and well-engineered axle and suspension system meant the van had the perfect foundations on which to build upon, and build Ruud did!
The 1.2 air-cooled engine was gone for good. Replacing it is a monster 12 cylinder, 6.0 litre engine taken straight out of a W12 VW Touareg. A custom made flywheel was added along with twin carbon air filters, an oil cooler and a custom fuel pressure regulator. The engine is married up to a six-speed gearbox from an Audi A6 and combined with a Tilton hydraulic three-plate clutch, good for plenty of power! Making sure that new lump doesn’t get cooked is a pair of aluminium radiators with four spall fans – smart move.
As my mum says, “If you’ve got it, flaunt it” and that’s exactly what Ruud has done with that beautiful W12 lump. The engine is boxed in directly behind the passenger and driver seats. The lid of the box has its own clear Perspex window for your viewing pleasure. Talking of pleasure, this little van now packs enough power to turn your face inside out! A staggering 450bhp with 443lbs of torque now surges through this old classic!
Needless to say, the standard brakes would have curled up and died at the thought of bringing the Fridolin’s new found power to a stop. For safety reasons they have been suitably upgraded! Both front and rear brakes have been replaced with 390mm two-piece brake discs and combined with Brembo six-piston callipers at the front, and four-piston callipers on the rear – plenty of stopping power to bring the Fridolin back under control. The callipers have been painted yellow and finished off with the Deutsche Bundespost (German Post Federation) logo, a nice little detail.
When it came to sorting the van out with a set of hoops, Ruud went large. A set of polished 8×20-inch Model Torq Thrust 2 wheels have been wrapped in stretchy 225/30×20 Nankang tyres. Despite their size the Fridolin has no problems gobbling the wheels up into the arches and tucking them away.
The interior has been kept clean and simple. The back of the van that was usually reserved for parcels is now filled with that big 6.0 litre W12 lump. Quick release catches have been used on the panels around the engine to give quick access should anything go pear shaped. It’s up front where all the fun happens though. A pair of Recaro Pro-Racer seats have been mounted on custom built runners and wrapped with Simpson harnesses that pin Ruud and his chosen victim in place.
A custom control panel has been fitted to the dash and houses a row of switches and buttons that would look more at home in a Bond car than that of an old delivery van! Even the pedal set on this van is custom made using three hydraulic cylinders. You’ll also notice that there’s not a stitch of carpet in sight. Everything is raw and focused purely on the driving experience of the fettled Fridolin.
Some purists may say that Ruud has ruined a classic. We say, can we have a go…NOW!?
￼OWNER: RUUD JANSSEN
TECH SPEC: FRIDOLIN
6.0-litre W12 VW Touareg engine; custom-made fly wheel; twin carbon air filters; oil cooler; fuel pressure regulator; 6-speed Audi A6 gearbox; Tilton hydraulic three-plate clutch; custom Magnaflow exhaust system; 4x radiators; 4x spall fans.
Tube frame chassis; custom front and rear axles; front and rear A-frame wishbones; 3-way adjustable coilovers with pushrod system; 390mm two-piece brake discs; Brembo 6-piston callipers front and 4-piston rears; Audi R8 handbrake callipers;
8x20in Model Torq Thrust 2 wheels; 225/30×20 Nankang tyres.
Complete body restoration; Type 1 rear lights; body flushed; front and rear colour coded bumpers; full respray in white with dark roof.
Fully stripped; Recaro Pro-Racer seats; Autometer Pro-Comp tachometer; water and oil temperature gauges; MOMO Drift steering wheel; custom pedal set with three hydraulic cylinders; racing handbrake and gear shift; custom made roll cage.
Words Nick Turner Photos Si Gray