Sunday, September 16, 2018

Watch: Project Bus Part 2, Building the Ford B600 into custom VW Bus 4X4

Transformation time! We let the clouds of brown rust settle before we started tackling the Junkyard Life Project Bus. Wrenching on daily stuff and enjoying the summer cruise-ins and vacations hindered our work. But we finally have a progress report and detailed plans on the
1964 1961 Ford bus project ready to report in our Part 2 video. 
  We started with the rescue in Part 1 and the intention of creating the ultimate "Remote Vehicle Recovery System" from what was left of the 1961 Ford bus chassis. We wanted to make a 4x4 party bus with a super towing package. Then things got interesting. The three-legged dog that is JYL, Keith, Ron & Jody, put their heads together to develop something wild. A hair-brained scheme of stupid proportions. The lightbulbs began glowing hot after we recently hauled a very rusty 1965 VW Bus out of the woods. 
  VWs are cool and everybody loves them. That got us our minds swimming with possibilities. What could command more attention than a mega-size 1965 VW Bus 4X4 with a Cummins turbo diesel and a 6-speed? Nothing! 

1961 Ford B600 bus will get the updated Cummins 5.9 turbo diesel out of a 1997 Dodge.
2005 F350 Chassis and 6-speed transmission ready to graft into the existing 1961 bus frame. The engine and front wheels will move back several feet from original bus design to mimic VW bus design.

Parts hoard
  We got excited and started gathering parts and hauling in donor vehicles to fund our super-low-budget VW bus. We snagged a 2005 F-350 4x4 chassis and 6-speed manual transmission at auction. The 5.9 Cummings that will power the mega bus is from a 1997 Dodge pickup. A few salvageable parts from the ’65 VW bus may be included in crafting the bumpers. 
  Much of the metal work will be custom built. Fabricating the up-sized parts will be necessary to keep the VW bus proportions true to the original VW design on the Ford B-600 body. We’re planning on scaling up the exterior parts. Lots of cutting and welding to do on this custom project. Cutting wheels and metal-cutting saw blades are getting used up fast!
  Nobody said we make things easy on ourselves.

This is initial placement of 2005 F350 chassis along with drivetrain in Junkyard Life's project bus.
This is initial placement of 2005 Ford F350 chassis, along with drivetrain in Junkyard Life's project bus. Much work to do yet.

  Now that the chassis is taking shape, we need your help. Do you have a name for the bus? More important than that are parts. Do you have some old VW parts to spare? We need a little bit of everything with something this big. We were given an old GMC RV that we will be able to scavenge the A/C units, bed, cabinets, dash parts, and wiring harness. Every little bit helps.
  Drop us a line if you can spare something. We are low budget builders. We want to have way less than $5000 in this by the time we are done. We even started a Go Fund Me just to see if anybody has some spare cash to throw at the bus along with us.

Before photo of 1961 Ford B600 bus.

Keith Lively acting like a hitchhiker beside bus after front end removed.

Front half of bus frame cut away along with much of thick floorpan.

More cutting to do to get correct setback.
2005 Ford F350 chassis stuffed under bus. Door will be added near midpoint on this side. Left rear exit door remains.

Interior of 1961 Ford bus with the 2005 chassis preliminary mocked-up in place. Driver's seat will move back beside second side window of bus.

Big plans
  Follow us, as we try to meet our deadline: The 2019 Hot Rod Power Tour. We plan to take the bus on the entire road trip. Drag racing, auto crossing, and cooking red wienies on the grill for all who gather around at each stop along the way. We plan to have lots of fun with this build – turning a forgotten, old 1961 Ford B600 bus that was a storage shed into a 4-wheel-drive monster VW transport beast. 
  We are no stranger to rescue missions involving vehicles thrown in the trash pile, junkyard, or scrap heap. The entire Junkyard Life team will dig deep.  
  Join us for the fun!

Jody Potter
— Junkyard Life

If you got extra funds, we need your help or just follow along on the channels below... 




Can you help us with a name, parts or cash? Drop us a line! Email details to Jody Potter at

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Cars in Yards: 1958 Chevrolet Brookwood Station Wagon an automotive family heirloom

The black wagon was a family hauler, then a teens hot rod. More than 50 years later, still in the family.

We’ll fix your little black wagon! At Junkyard Life all wagons have a history that invites and entices us. Their stories, often similar in content become all their own once the memories start flooding back. The Hurst family, of Fultondale, Alabama, have seemingly always been involved with cars. And they own a station wagon full of family history — their freshly-rescued 1958 Chevrolet Brookwood Wagon. 
  The Hurst family did not buy this car new, although they didn’t miss by much. Gilbert Hurst knew a thing or two about cars. He owned and operated his own auto repair business during the 1960s. A dependable family car was a top priority for this family-minded mechanic. Also, Gilbert may have known a good deal when he saw it. Enter into the Hurst family a Sierra Gold Brookwood Wagon. This moderately optioned wagon had the very important third seat option. With a growing family, Gilbert and his wife Sylvia needed the room. Their daughter Kathy was soon granted a little brother, Lynn, in 1962. Lynn Hurst arrived and this station wagon would prove to be a very valuable part of his history and definitely made him a car guy for life. Despite the almost new wagon being born Sierra Gold, it did not stay that way. Gilbert Hurst was a huge Nascar fan in the 1960s and decided the wagon would better represent his racing passion in Daytona Yellow. 

Gilbert Hurst liked the Daytona Yellow because of his love for NASCAR.
Gilbert Hurst painted the 1958 Chevy Brookwood wagon Daytona Yellow in the late 1960s.

Are We There Yet? 
  Throughout the remainder of the 1960’s this now yellow Brookwood wagon was put through the torture of being a family utility vehicle. It is a good thing the station wagon they picked had a third row seat because Gilbert and Sylvia had a few more blessings coming their way. Pennie Hurst arrived and gave Kathy a little sister. Traveling with a family of five is no easy task. Make that a family of six when Laura made her debut only to give up the role as the family baby to the youngest Hurst addition, Melinda. Now we have a family of seven to carry around. Is there a better vehicle than a wagon?

A few of the Hurst children ready for a trip in the ’58 Chevy Brookwood wagon (early 1970s?).

  So, what was the weapon of choice nestled between the fenders of the old faithful family truckster? Surprise! It was not we thought. We guessed a 283-V8 engine. Introduced in 1957, the 283-V8 made an impact on buyers. But, new for the 1958 line, there was a new power plant on the menu... a 348 c.i.d. V8, which made more horsepower (250). Bigger is better, right? Gilbert Hurst took a chance on this strange power plant.  
  What is this new “W” engine? This weird shaped engine had to prove itself in the long run. For many years and family trips Gilbert Hurst tested the limits of the 348, using it to pull boats, campers and other trailers. Years and many miles later the 348 gave up. Gilbert Hurst, being the car guy he was, did not intend to let the family’s best friend sit idle long. He yanked the original 348 motor in favor of a 350 from the classy Buick division of GM. To be fair, the 348 did last over ten years and had a lot asked of it. How long could you carry seven people and pull a boat? 
  So, now we have a Buick powered Chevrolet wagon in a color you can’t miss!

The mail lady
  In the early 1970’s Sylvia Hurst got a job as a mail carrier (see fun facts) and the Brookwood wagon made for a perfect delivery vehicle. Then, in 1974, it earned semi-retired status in favor of a new family car. What could take the place of this family friend? A really huge, and new, 1974 Ford Country Squire wagon. 
  Was that the end of the line for this interesting and frugal mode of transportation? Not by any means, wagon fans. Fear not! Two years after the arrival of the new Country Squire wagon, the Hursts car crazy son, Lynn, turned sixteen and must have the keys to something. 
  “Hey, Dad. About the wagon? No, the other one.”

1958 Chevy Brookwood wagon was painted black when teenage son, Lynn Hurst, got the keys to the family car.

A new color? That is a big ten-four!
  The Daytona Yellow was cool, but that was dad’s color. Now we have other plans. Seeing this as an opportunity to make a cool car even cooler (hotter?) the color must change. 
  ”Hear ye, hear ye.
  Lynn Hurst declared jet black was to be the third color fate of this Buick-powered wagon. Rolling with the times, this also called for an AM/FM/8-track and better speakers. Hear ye indeed, Lynn. Anybody who was cool and wanted to avoid “smokeys” had to have a C.B. radio too. It was a 1970’s rule. The interior was elaborately redesigned in matching black rolled vinyl. Dual pop-up sunroofs were also installed.

CB radio still resides inside the custom interior of the ’58 Chevy wagon.

Memory lane
  Adventures ensued. Fun was had. Tears were cried and the wagon proved to be an integral part of the family in a flood of memories. Here are some highlights that Lynn recalls fondly:

  • The paint was literally still wet when dad, Gilbert, drove the wagon to the Daytona 500 in 1970! They just pulled the tape off and packed the car! The entire family also went on a trip to Daytona around 1973.
  • During little league baseball season the wagon was loaded full of baseball players going to games around the county. As many as ten people piled into the wagon!
  • A prankster teenager that he was, Lynn had a switch that turned off the tail lights in the wagon. A friend was “chasing” him in a Ford Pinto and turned off the Pinto’s headlights on a dark road. Lynn switched off the wagon’s tail lights and made a sharp turn that the Pinto didn’t see coming (his own fault) and crashed into a fire hydrant. The hydrant survived better than the Pinto did.
  • Lynn’s dad, Gilbert, was a founding member of the Black Widows (a local car club that opened legendary local drag strip Lassiter Mountain). Lynn remembers the wagon being at the track. When Lynn got the car, he knew better than to hot dog in it due to a weak two-piece drive shaft that would not hold up to abuse. When in the mood to do any sneaky racing, Lynn and a friend would take out a 1967 Impala SS 427 4-speed owned by the friend’s father.
  • The wagon pulled a boat to Smith Lake. Correction, the camper pulled the boat. The wagon was the camper. They slept in it while camping!

End of the road?
  Lynn drove and cruised this Brookwood for many years. Eventually, the Buick power plant was sidelined in favor of a suitable small-block Chevrolet. It seemed appropriate, but it never happened. A newer car was purchased and took over full-time duty for Lynn instead of the long roof ’58. However, the black Brookwood wagon remained in the family. 

Parked for more than 30+ years, the ’58 Brookwood wagon has held up well.

  In 1987, Lynn Hurst became the proprietor of a very successful towing company. Hurst Towing, a name synonymous with his home base in Fultondale, Alabama. The wagon got shuffled around company storage lots and facilities, but never sold. It usually had a dry place to sleep. You can’t sell family.
  Lynn’s sister, Pennie Hurst Carter, finally made a move and insisted the car come to her barn. This is where we at Junkyard Life came on the scene. We knew of the wagon and pulled every string we could to see this cool time machine. Somehow, we persuaded Pennie to let us crawl all over it. (Editor’s note: I was there and I think Ron has gotten “persuaded” and “shameless begging” mixed up again.
  Pennie’s enthusiasm is contagious and within minutes she had us wanting to turn wrenches. Much thanks to the Hurst/Carter family for letting us photograph this automotive heirloom. I have no doubt they will preserve this car and it will once again see the highway and this time no fighting over the keys!

Ron Kidd
— Junkyard Life

Body remains solid on the ’58 Brookwood because it spent many years stored indoors instead of outdoors in the elements.

Junkyard Life’s 1958 Chevrolet Fun Facts:
  • 1958 Chevrolets are now highly prized and a rarity. Once shunned due to the enormous popularity Chevrolet experienced with the 1957 models, so perfect in the consumer eyes that they were dubbed “57 Heaven.”
  • Fultondale Alabama has several ties in this story. (1) Sylvia Hurst delivered mail in Fultondale in this car. (2) The car was stored in Fultondale after Lynn Hurst started Hurst Towing. (3) Pennie Hurst Carter currently delivers mail in Fultondale.
  • Daytona Yellow (code 51) was available on select few Chevrolet products including the 1969 Corvette and Camaro.
  • 1958 was the first year for the 348 engine. The odd shaped “W” pattern was a preview of what was to become the 409 a few years later.
  • Sharp eyes can tell the difference in a 348 and a 409 by the location of the dipstick.
  • The car that Lynn Hurst replaced the wagon with was a 1976 Pontiac Grand Prix LJ. (Editor’s Note: While not a 1958 Chevrolet fact, Grand Prixs make Ron very happy. I knew he would work that in somehow.)
  • Ronny Howard drove the most famous 1958 Impala in the coming of age George Lucas film American Graffiti.
  • “Martinique” was the name of one of ten 1958 Impalas “girlied-up” for the 1958 GM Fashion Show by Jeanette Linder. This car had a built-in lighted vanity mirror and a special make-up case that folded down in the dash. Where is the Martinique today?
  • 1958 was also the first-year that coil springs were equipped all around. It was a design victory in their eyes, as it was to improve the ride from all corners.
  • The same fuel options as used on the famous Oldsmobile triple two-barrel set-up known as the J-2 and Pontiac’s Tri-Power brought you 30 more horsepower on the new 348, bringing it up 280 hp. That would be fun and that is a fact.
  • 1958 was the first year for the name “Impala” on a GM vehicle. An Impala is a small deer-like creature that runs for dear life from predators. Chevrolet had great success with the Impala line. It usually indicated upper trim levels in their full-size line.
  • 1958 was the first year for the X-frame. Designed for both structural rigidity and safety. 

Do you have a great classic or muscle car barn find story? Send us details and we’re on the way!  Send emails to Jody Potter at & Ron Kidd at

More photos of the rescued 1958 Chevy Brookwood wagon

Layers of peeling paint in the door jam reveal the various colors that the 1958 wagon once wore.

1958 marked the end of the Harley Earl design era at GM. Earl loved curves. Notice the curving trim surrounding the tail lamp on the rear of the wagon.

Sinister low angle shot of the rear of the black 1958 Brookwood wagon.

Detail of the chromed rolling curves that make up the front bumper on the 1958 Brookwood wagon. 

Detail of the vent window and windshield on the 1958 Chevy Brookwood wagon. They don’t make them like this anymore.

Speaker sits on wheel well hump.
Remnant of teen stereo days sits in the back of the wagon.

Chevrolet produced 170,473 4-door wagons in 1958.

1958 Chevy wagons weigh 3,750 lbs. on average.
Long roof ’58 Chevy 4-door wagons weigh roughly 3,750 lbs. depending on engine/options.

Front end, grill of the 1958 Chevrolet is menacing.

This 1958 Chevrolet Brookwood got parked when it was time for an engine swap. Decades passed and the swap never happened.

Vintage Cal Chrome wheels still mounted on the 1958 Chevy.

Painted black, mag wheels, sunroof, CB, AM/FM/8-track stereo.
Snapshot from the 1970s. ’58 wagon painted black, mag wheels, sunroof, CB, AM/FM/8-track stereo.

Pop-up sunroofs were added to the 4-door Brookwood wagon.

Making a cool daily driver for a teenager means adding lots of extras.
Interior view of the pop-up sunroofs in the 1958 Brookwood wagon.

The Hurst family has held onto the family hauler for 55+ years. It may soon be on the road to restoration.

Do you have a great classic or muscle car barn find story? Send us details and we’re on the way!  Send emails to Jody Potter at & Ron Kidd at