After our Split Pick-up had a slow dance with a Nissan off roader en-route to Stonor Park we needed to track down a local VW restorer to tackle the repair works for us.
We are spoilt for choice with restoration businesses locally, and could have got a decent job from any of them, but we were drawn towards a big industrial building just north of Shoreham, in Small Dole, the home of Ant Winter and Kustom Revival.
I’d known of Ant since I started working with Heritage over ten years ago. He was a regular at our Burgess Hill trade counter whilst he was plying his trade for another Sussex based specialist, completing Porsche engine swaps into Splitscreen buses. In fact Ant tells us “I’ve been buying from Heritage for over 20 years, and now it’s gone full circle and I’ve been asked to fix a bus for you!”
After a spell on the spanners for a couple of other establishments, he got the opportunity to follow his dream and go it alone; and so Kustom Revival finally came to life.
A long term plan
“Kustom Revival was always the goal” Nikki, Ant’s other half tells me. “He had that logo on his garage wall for years before he started this”.
So I asked Ant his background, and he surprises me “I was never into cars as a kid. I messed around with bikes though. When my Mum kept failing her driving test, and I passed first time I got to use the family Mini”.
Learn the hard way
“One day it broke down, so I went to my Dad and asked him what to do. He sent me to Halfords to buy a Haynes manual! I was good at fixing bikes, so I got it sorted. I ended up de-seaming it, lowering it and tuning it too!”
Due to the rising costs of donor vehicles, Porsche engine conversions have become less popular, so Ant has turned his hand to perfecting the art of the Subaru swap.
Offering a reliable 140-160hp, a 5 speed gearbox, modern heating, and the option to retain air conditioning, power steering and even cruise control should you wish, the complete Subaru upgrade starts at around 11 grand. “Bear in mind that a decent blueprinted 1600cc build would cost upwards of £5-6k in a workshop” Ant offers “and think of all the extra you get with this…”
Preaching to the converted
Having seen his craftsmanship on the affectionately named ‘Duracell Bus’ I’m sold already. We take a walk over to the fabrication and metalwork side of the unit and are greeted by Brazilian bodywork wizard T. “He’s a custom bike guy really, but he can turn his hand to anything. He’s made a lot of the panels for that Split from scratch.”
Not just VWs
With an ‘El Camino’ Pick up in the corner, a caravan-come-mobile bar in the middle and a roofless Porsche to one side I enquire further to his plan “I’m happy to work on anything, and enjoy the variety. If we can help someone we will, the cooler or quirkier the project the better.”
My line of questioning extends to whether he has a favourite workshop task, to which Ant explains “The engineering is what really gets me going. There’s a machine shop to install at some point as we are currently having to outsource this. It’s not a huge problem, but we would ultimately like to keep as much stuff in-house as possible.”
Mezzin’ it up
I clock a Beetle upstairs, so we go and take a look. “I’ve had this Oval 20 years” Ant tells me “I’ve got another two Bugs, a Bus, a Ghia and a Corrado too”. I notice that the door is slightly ajar, but the wrong way round. “I did the suicide doors, and started de-seaming the roof gutters years ago” he continues. It’s not one for the purists, but this car is a bit far gone to put back to stock now, plus Ant will make a decent custom job of it I’m sure.
A big thanks to Kustom Revival for showing us round their workshop, and for their efforts on our Split Bus, we couldn’t be happier. Next up a call to Neil Melliard to re-apply the traditional signwriting by hand.