We wanted to kickoff our “Behind The Build” section with the perfect project scoop, so of course we had to wait for the right under-construction build to come along that would fit the bill. We will be featuring project builds that are in the build process but still meet our quality standards to bring you the best of the best of builds from around the globe! We found this 1972 VW Type 2 Panel Van in Japan at a shop called Silver Rest, owned by Tomoyuki Nonoshita and we were instantly in love with the build and knew we had to see more.
Photos: Mike Alexander | Words: Steve “Chance Photos” Berndsen
While on our last trip to Japan to check out the 23rd Annual Mooneyes Yokohama Hot Rod Custom Show we came across this build and were struck by the difference in style and taste compared to what we were used to seeing back at home. The gloss grey/pearl painted body while simple and elegant served as sort of blank a canvas that allowed us to focus on other aspects of the van like the candy red painted frame and genuine BBS RS-GTs perched deep under her ample arches. Our good friends and tour guides, Makoto Okamura and Shingo Takeshita helped us set up a photoshoot on location at the shop, since the build is mid-process and won’t be “completed” and running for at least two years or so. To the un-initiated the “VW Bus” might conjure up images of weed smoking hippies hanging out of a van covered in bright flower paint singing songs of free love and world peace, however this bay-window is definitely not one of those examples.
Tomo tells us that it’s taken him almost 10 years to get the build to this stage from first buying the bus back in 2005 for a mere $1,000 and letting it sit while he formed his creative vision of what she should eventually look like. Tomo had a vision for the build, although like many of us, he he never realized the extent to which the ball would start rolling once he started cutting and what he would eventually create with his own two hands. At first, all he wanted was a fast but reliable daily driver to get to and from work and haul parts for his shop, but that all changed when he saw the same style of bus in a YouTube video pulling a burnout and tearing off into the European countryside. From then on he knew he wanted to build something special that would truly turn heads from all standpoints, no matter what automotive genre you prefer.
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Tomo’s day job when he’s not turning out showstoppers on the side is running his VW repair shop, Silver Rest in Saitama, Japan. It’s here that the magic happens and where all the custom touches performed by Tomo come to life at night. He shared with us that all of the work done on the bus (minus the paint) he accomplished by himself after hours, which presented some interesting challenges when attacking major jobs where an extra set of hands come in handy. One such incident involved removing the stock floor, with the bus up on jacks and Tomo tearing away at her underbelly and he didn’t notice the weight shift after removing a sizeable chunk of metal. This resulted in the bus nose diving to the pavement and nearly taking him with it! Thankfully though Tomo is still with us alive and kicking and hopes to have the rest of the van finished within the next two years, help permitting.
Tomo said that his ultimate goal with this build was to try something new to Japan’s VW scene because “Some of the old Japan guys believe that the traditional ’70s California look is still the coolest and they don’t understand or accept today’s new style. They’re always saying ‘lowered is okay, but Slam’d is too much’ so I wanted to show them it can still be cool while doing something different.” Truly going against the grain, Tomo decided to build something that was a real challenge both physically and socially. Stepping outside of the box and breaking the rules is something that we’re all about here at Slam’d Mag and Tomoyuki Nonoshita has built a one-off creation with his vision that’s sure to turn heads and maybe even rub some people the wrong way, which is exactly why we love this thing! Check out the detailed build specs below, and stay tuned for more on this project as it moves closer to completion.
Owner: Tomoyuki Nonoshita’s
Vehicle: 1972 VW Type 2 Panel Van
Hometown: Saitama, Japan
Front: BBS 17-inch RS-GT with 195/40R17 tires
Rear: BBS RS-GT 18s with 265/35R18s
Front: Custom-built and narrowed, detachable tube axle with drop spindle from Old Speed (VW shop in US)
Rear: Custom raised framerails, hybrid rear suspension using stock IRS arms from VW Bug, and one-off arms
Custom built control arms
Monroe Shocks on front, custom one-off air strut in rear using Firestone ‘bags and aftermarket struts
Mercedes Benz 500sl Stock Brembo Callipers and rotors built to fit
Performed By: Owner at Silver Rest VW Repairs & Service
Sectioned (shorter) upper tailgate and extended (taller) lower tailgate
4-inch extended (stretched to the ground) rear fender arches
Performed By: Owner
Painted Fiat 500 Stock Solid Grey by BODYLINE
Raised fender wells under front seat
Raised cab floor to get the road clearance required
The master cylinder and steering box are bolted underneath
Custom-made steering shaft housing
Interior is still “under-construction”
Performed By: Owner
Stock EJ20, flat four cylinder from 1998 Turbo Subaru Imprezza
Stock 4-speed from VW Type 2 using custom adaptor to mate the Subaru motor
Polished and painted
Custom wiring harness from 1999 Subaru STI spliced into original 1972 VW Type 2 harness
Performed By: Owner