Meet Spongebug Rust Pants first registered in Australia 1960 and now a sixty-something head-turner in Sussex, UK. “Actually she is fairly rust-free for her age, due to her previous life in the Aussie climate” says owner Dave, and she is now heading To The Beach for a good time. Spongebug was brought to the UK in 2002 where she enjoyed the drag racing circuit for a few years before deciding it was time to retire. She blew up, destroying her engine, and was sold for the value of her number plate. But since you cannot transfer the number plate of an imported car, she changed hands again and has eventually found a happy life with Dave, her latest and most devoted owner. ‘Great wheels, great breaks, no horsepower’ he explains, as she now has a sedately 1200cc engine despite her racy looks which have more recently won her fame ‘and sometimes we just take our cars out for fun and photograph, like with suitcases piled 20 high on the roof, or in exciting locations.’
As well as being a bit of a star, she is enjoying life as Dave’s party car, taking him all over the country to VW rallies where he has made dozens of friends with the help of Spongbug’s charms. With a flair for design, he has sourced all the little things that make her so distinctive, the racks, the sign, the suitcases, the Digeridoo and of course the racoon’s tale which usually hangs out of the suitcase but has been known to hang out of the bonnet. Dave also owns a VW camper van which he occasionally uses for friends weddings. ‘I used to own fast cars, but I would never own anything apart from a VW now. They make people so happy. Everywhere I go people come up to me and talk about the car, I have made so many friends.’ His favourite rally is VW Action which is held every September and has a different theme every year. Last year it was Christmas, where Spongebug became a photo celebrity. Cars should dress appropriately, and they do!
Part of the luck of restoring an old VW is the kind of life it had before. Spongebug’s body work was good and Dave has only had to replace the front wing, now red and ready for painting. ‘The trouble is, no one wants me to paint it! It’s part of her character now and I just can’t do it.’ The other stroke of luck was that no-one had messed around with the chrome dashboard and trim, since there was a trend of taking it off and smoothing everything over.
Dave, like many, likes the low slung, laid back look, so he has lowered the back wheels. ‘I tried lowering them more, but she kept hitting the speed bumps’. His next plan is to change the seats and restore the vinyl 1960s door panels inside the car to make them more like the original. But with so much fun to be had on the road, it’s hard to find the time.
Have a great summer you two!