Custom Camping | The Yudi Yumos Custom Volkswagen 'Snail Camper'
Interview: Luke Ray.
In November last year I was invited to go and check out what is noted as the world’s largest indoor classic Volkswagen event. Held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia every two years, JVWF is where all the Indonesian Volksie enthusiasts head to see the latest customs from all over the country.
There was one builder in particular who was causing quite a stir at the event with a few of his cars, one of them being what ended up winning best in show, a striking custom ‘Snail Camper’. As with so many projects in Indonesia, this one is far from what it seems at first glance. I interviewed the man responsible, Mr Yumos…
Please tell me your name and the name of your business.
My name is Wahyu Pamungkas. My company is Yudi Yumos, it means ‘Yudi Motor Sport’.
When did you start your business and why did you start it?
I graduated from high school in 1989 and continued my studies at Diponegoro University Faculty of Law in 1990. In February of 1991 my mother bought me a motorcycle. In September of that year, there was a Volkswagen exhibition locally in my city, Semarang. I went there to see what it was like and I instantly fell in love with the VW Beetles that I saw. Two months later I sold my motorcycle without any permission from my mother and I bought a 1961 Beetle in pretty bad condition. My mother wasn’t too happy when I brought it home because she thought it wouldn’t be as economical as the motorbike…
I took the Bug to my friend’s workshop and we restored it over five months, before selling it on. I was surprised because I doubled my money on the project. I told this to my mother and she wasn’t angry anymore! I continued to buy, restore and sell VWs all through my law degree until I graduated in 1996. In 1998, I opened my workshop, Yumos.
You do a lot of Brazilian to split bus conversions. Please tell me how you started to do those? Was there a big demand in Indonesia for this conversion?
Around 2006, many Indonesian people were exporting ‘split-screen’ VW Kombis to overseas customers in countries such as Australia, Japan and the UK. In just two years, the population of split-screens was reduced significantly making them rare here in Indonesia, but the demand from overseas was still high. So, we decided to make a replica split-screen bus using a newer base model and fabricating a complete split-screen front end on to it. We offered it to a Japanese customer for the first time. This sold quickly and then more orders started to come in. Now, there’s a big demand for replicas from Germany, USA, France and Japan. We have orders come in for split-busses with all kinds of specifications such as camping interiors, 23-window models and food trucks.
With the Porsche 356 and the Abarth replicas, it looks like you are doing some different work now. Are you taking on new kinds of projects beside the Brazilian conversions?
Yes, since two years ago when a customer from Germany sent me his original Porsche 356C. He wanted to change the body to an aluminium Abarth. At that time, I asked the customer if we could make a copy of his C body and he was quite happy to let us do that.
So, now we have a new aluminium welding team and a team to make Porsche 356 replicas. But as these two cars that you mentioned are our first aluminium coachbody projects, we first had to learn how to make our own tools such as English wheels and bead rollers. We learned how to do this on YouTube and then applied what we learned to our workflow here. Finally, after learning and making the tools, we made the Abart 356 from aluminium.
I am excited by this new phase for us because we are the first workshop in Indonesia to do this. I was to lead the way in aluminium Porsche replicas in Indonesia. We are also teaching a new generation of welders to work with Aluminium, so it’s good for the Indonesian industry in general.
Which model of bus did you start with?
It started as a 1977 ‘bay window’ bus which we bought in 2013 without any running gear. The previous owner passed away in an accident on the way home from Jogja Volkswagen Festival (JVWF) 2013. Our goal was to make the Snail Camper and have it ready for the 2017 JVWF. Using this as a base, we converted it to a ‘split-screen’ cab. I only kept the chassis, though. The front doors, front facia, dashboard were all hand made by us here from 0.8mm galvanised steel.
Did you make a new chassis for this? If so, how did you calculate the design and engineering? Is there a lot of weight in the camper part?
As I mentioned, we started with the original chassis from the ‘77 bus. We modified it to be 15cm longer and 15cm wider on each side. Under the floor we added thicker steel cross members and made the floor thicker to 1.2mm. The camper unit on the back is made from aluminium. If you compare the weight with standard bus, there’s actually not much increase in weight. It’s probably only around 250kg heavier.
Did you make drawings for the design? Or, did you create the design during the fabrication process?
We saw an old original design of a camper which we used as an influence and then created a design from that. But of course, during the process we made changes along the way.
Did you create the snail camper to be a fully-functioning van for camping, or was it made for the JVWF show to promote your workshop?
We made it to be fully functioning, but the design still needs some adjustments for future versions. We plan to build these for customers, but yes we used this first one also to promote our workshop at JVWF17.
Tell me what is inside the camper…
Inside we can sleep three people, but we still to modify the design so that it can sleep four.
Stove only with portable gas, 1 sink, a place for wine basket, fridge, microwave, retro sound system (single disc and USB), 17” and 14” monitors, 12 inch subwoofer, 6 x 6” speakers, air conditioning, rock ‘n’ roll bed.
Have you made a camper before? What were the big challenges of making a vehicle like this? Did you have some problems and challenging times during the build process?
Yes, we have already made many campers before. Usually they are 23-window buses with camper interiors. We changed the shape of the Snail Camper almost three times. We fixed the frame and then after it was finished, we changed it all again, particularly the roof shape. Also when we finished the interior we change design another two times. Also we made a pop-up roof that can move with five styles. This is our new innovation for pop-up roofs with a five-style shape.
Give us some specs...
Engine: Volkswagen Type 4, 2110cc
Bore: 90.5 x 82
Cam: Geneberg 270
Carburetor: Dellorto 45
Porsche fan housing
External oil cooler
We used this engine because it has big power.
Suspension: front and rear adjusters, narrowed beam
Tell me about your experience at JVWF 2017. What did people say to you about the snail camper?
I was surprised… Many people liked our Snail Camper. Firstly because it is reborn from JVWF 2013 to 2017. Second, this is the first model of Snail Camper with a pop-up roof in the world so peoples appreciated it and many photos of this Snail Camper were shared online over the weekend. Finally, the Snail Camper received four trophies in at JVWF 2017, including ‘Best of the Best’.
Will you do a project like this again? What ideas do you have for future projects?
Yes! We received orders for more Snail Campers at JVWF 2017. We can also make any model for food trucks or campers. We will now prepare for JVWF 2019 where will make and display a Porsche Berlin-Rome in full aluminium and a single cab VW Tempo Matador.
Follow Yumos: @yumosvw.