The VW scene is a hotbed of originality, and Jez Dyke of Dubtricks has added a little Apple innovation to his T4 to create a unique and outstanding all rounder

It should give you an idea of how Jez Dyke likes to innovate when you consider that one of the trickest mods we have seen in a long while – letting an iPad into the dash of his T4 – was the first, and hence the oldest, mod he made to this Van.  It also used to be his favourite part of the Van, but has since been overshadowed by another original addition – the roof rack – which he believes is the first of this kind to be used on an elevating roof.  Between the two is just the kind of story of invention and innovation we love.

Jez is the first to admit he loves VWs.  He’s been into them pretty much as long as he can remember, and one of his earliest memories is of an uncle’s Beetle.  He joined the ranks of VW owners when he was 18, swapping his Nissan Stanza for an MoT-failure Bay Window, and putting that back on the road in the early ’90s.  The work involved included a host of modifications that Jez ascribes to the era – smoothed front end, neon lights and, heaven forbid, a Perspex engine lid!

” A superb colour, with simple but effective body mods “

Anyway, time rolled on and Jez eventually founded Dubtricks, offering a range of services and producing a string of top-end vehicles, all with their own individual innovations.  The latest in the line is this T4, built to satisfy a host of requirements, including transporting him and girlfriend, Louise, to shows, as well as snowboards, surfboards, a longboard and various bits of martial arts equipment for when he is indulging in his other hobbies.

The journey began, as so many do, with a battered and hammered white builder’s Van. It changed hands for a paltry £1,000 and, while it was mechanically reasonable, the rest was far from it.  It’s taken a couple of years to reach this standard, but there was a fairly major lay-off in the middle, as Jez had too much paying work to find time to work on his own project.

The first job, however, was to get the crew to work on prepping the bodywork for the body kit and paintwork.  Everyone was involved in this process, including Louise, who not only sanded the body and cut in the windows, assisted by friend, Kate McCarthey Bedward, from Classic Volks, but also scraped all the underseal and rust off the underside, ready for repair and re-treatment.

Tech info:
1994 VW T4 Transporter

  • ENGINE: Stock 2.4 diesel
  • CHASSIS: 40mm lowered springs, stock dampers
  • WHEELS & TYRES: 19-inch Iroc rims with 235/35-19 tyres
  • BODYWORK: Glass fibre body kit; Austops roof; Dubtricks roof rack; LED DRLs; stainless side bars; smoked LED rear lights; LHD sliding door channel welded up; painted in Honda Element Kiwi Green
  • INTERIOR:  Bluebird ¾-width rock ’n’ roll bed; non-slip vinyl flooring; mouldable carpet on walls and ceiling; remote controlled LED lights; pedestal table stored in ceiling; full-length storage / kitchen unit with flip-out hob and sink; rear-mounted cooking pod; drinks cabinet
  • CAB:  Ford Galaxy swivel seats, re-trimmed in charcoal leather and black Alcantara; iPad in dash; VW Passat instrument binnacle; Scat gear shifter

Having welded-up a few areas that needed repairing, Jez set to the modifications, starting with welding up the phantom side door runner, as he felt it ruined the lines of the Van.  The body kit comprises new front and rear bumpers and widened ’arches all round.  It also came with a set of glass fibre side skirts, but Jez decided to ditch these in favour of a pair of stainless steel side bars.  He also added an Austops elevating roof, which features a lifting bed on gas struts to create additional headroom inside.

We’ve already mentioned the roof rack – he needed one and there wasn’t anything on the market, so he decided to make his own out of stainless steel and oak.  He also fabricated an aluminium spacer for the side door runner so it would clear the wider rear arches when opened.

Jez applied the Honda Element Kiwi Green paint himself, on the main body to begin with and then, around a year later, thanks to the near-constant badgering and help from friend and fellow paint sprayer, Paul Acland, the doors followed suit.  Another mate, Josh from Tasmania, helped finish the exterior and the result is just stunning – a superb colour with subtle but effective body mods.  The effect is complemented by a set of 19-inch Iroc rims, wrapped in low pro rubber, while the chassis has been lowered around 40mm.  It used to be a lot lower but Jez lost an argument with a stubborn tree root on the way to a wedding so, once he’d repaired the rear bumper, he raised the Van to give a bit more ground clearance.

Mechanically, things have been left stock – engine, transmission, brakes – all standard. However, the interior is far from how it left the factory.  Up front, Jez fitted a pair of Ford Galaxy electrically-heated front seats on swivelling bases and custom circular pedestals. These are complete with arm rests and have been trimmed by Rob Annakin at Harlequin Upholstery and Car Trimming in charcoal and black Alcantara.  The Bluebird rock ’n’ roll bed was trimmed to match and fitted with lap belts.

Staying at the front, the stock dashboard was completely removed and a Passat dial cluster installed as it has a rev counter and green lighting.  Jez then spent a considerable amount of time working out how to relocate the switchgear and heater controls and install the iPad.  He formed a flat panel to mount the iPad and then modified the dash to accept the panel, before persuading Rob to trim it in Alcantara, too.

” Innovation, attention to detail, useability and uniqueness
in equal measures “

He also adopted a little old school action, fitting a Scat gearshifter as a nod to his air-cooled origins.  The result is a very minimalistic cabin, combining full function with clean lines.  The iPad takes care of sounds, navigation and movies, as well as a host of other functions, and the rest is cunningly hidden away.  An amp is connected to a pair of component speakers atop the dash, as well as a pair of 6 x 9s and a single, 12-inch sub mounted in the kick panel in the rear.

Moving into the back, the same degree of innovation and attention to detail is present.  As we already said, there’s a Bluebird rock ’n’ roll bed back there, ¾-width and comprising a rear-facing bench for hanging out, checking out the view from the rear tailgate.

Space saver

The flooring is in heavy-duty vinyl with mouldable carpet on the walls, applied in-house by Rob Newman at Dubtricks.  The furniture was also built by Rob and comprises a full-length unit with a rounded front end, designed to provide space for the drivers’ seat to swivel towards the back and form part of the interior.  It also features a slatted sliding door to make full use of the available storage space.  Behind it are two cupboards and a sliding drawer, as well as a single-burner hob that folds out of the stainless steel sink with folding tap.  Further back, there is a storage unit with a folding top through the recycled plastic worktop (made from vending machine coffee cups), while at the very rear, accessed from the tailgate, is a very trick drinks cabinet, including bottle storage, a folding drinks table and four shot glasses.

Under the rear-facing seat is a pull-out, dual purpose kitchen unit.  We say dual purpose because when you access it from inside the Van, it’s designed for making a quick cuppa, while the rearward facing version is a full cooking station, in order that smells are kept out of the ‘bedroom’, as it were.  There’s also, as you would expect, a leisure battery and Sargent control system powering the electronics, such as the LED lights, projector
TV and so on.

The result is awesome.  It combines innovation, attention to detail, useability and uniqueness in equal measures.  As Jez puts it, “It’s a Van, it’s a Camper and it’s a daily driver.” Whatever it is, iLove it and iWant one…

 

Photos taken by: Steve Sharp

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