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The Regna '54 Deluxe
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busben
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2019 5:26 am    Post subject: The Regna '54 Deluxe Reply with quote

I've mentioned this project in the "other ways of dating a BD?" thread back in 2017, but sadly I lost interest in it for a while after getting it back from my old welder. I won't bore you with the details of my crappy year, but I've now found a couple of very knowledgeable and talented people to undertake welding duties on my new projects, and some very good friends stepped in to help me get this one back on track too.

The "Regna Deluxe" is now flying along and, since I enjoy reading the threads on here and use it as a great resource for so many VW related questions, I thought I should make the effort myself and start a proper thread on the build. People seem to post more on social media these days than on forums, but the threads on here keep everything neatly in one place and don't disappear with time. I wish more people would post their projects here!

Anyway, enough of that! This one started a good while ago in March 2007, when Rikki James mentioned it in his column in VolksWorld magazine. The story went that a Gentleman called Philip Von Mecklenburg had discovered the remains of a Barndoor Deluxe next to a lake in Sweden. It had supposedly been cut many years ago in order to mount the top half on a boat for use on the lake! The bottom half had been thrown away and the top was all that now existed. Rikki included a photo of the bus, which still had its original full width deluxe dash, door handles, coat hooks and sunroof header mechanism, and I've since managed to source the other photos that were taken at the same time:

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Fast forward a couple of years to 2009 and I got to know Chris Stoneham of Musclebus who, at the time, was the sole European importer and distributer of the KF repair panels. Chris lives locally and I ended up buying my '54 standard project from him and better getting to know him and his collection of buses. He had a couple of projects that I always showed interest in so when in 2011 he offered me a certain project that I'd been hankering after, I had to say yes and quickly sell some stuff to raise the money.

What's this got to do with this project? Well, this particular deluxe was now owned by Chris but was still without VIN number, body number, or any other way of identifying it and so he included it in the deal. I look pretty made up with my purchase in these old photos but in truth didn't really have a plan for the bus.

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I did think about building it on a Kombi VIN but that didn't seem to be a worthwhile plan, financially or for my own satisfaction. I also had a couple of South American deluxes pass through my hands and did consider using this lump to fix their twisted bodies, but again it didn't sit right with me. This bus is a rare RHD deluxe and a lot of it still existed. As the years have passed, Volkswagen projects have become bigger and more daring. Some projects have included so much new metal that barely anything of the original vehicle still existed. I figured that if I could somehow find the id for this bus, then I could build it with way more original metal than many buses out there, including some early 23's I know of, Gersons "rebuilt" barndoors including his infamous rhd barndoor that visited the first BenPon show, and some of the other projects dotted about the globe and featured in this forum.
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Project threads:
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"'20-020744 "The Tocksfors Rhd"
"Quality Sound 1954 Barndoor Deluxe Puzzle"
"The Regna '54 Deluxe"
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23 window mike
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:09 am    Post subject: Re: The Regna '54 Deluxe Reply with quote

Ok the thing is most of the deluxe busses that have been restored in the last few years have had later top haft welded on so I am sure you can weld your roof to another bottom half 👍
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volksheime
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:22 pm    Post subject: Re: The Regna '54 Deluxe Reply with quote

I say build a boat bottom and mount it up thus taking it back to its roots. Use a 36hp to power it ala Volksliner style and have a rig to give those Schwimmwagens a run for thier money at the Ben Pon show.
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busben
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 2:02 am    Post subject: Re: The Regna '54 Deluxe Reply with quote

23 window mike wrote:
Ok the thing is most of the deluxe busses that have been restored in the last few years have had later top haft welded on so I am sure you can weld your roof to another bottom half 👍


I agree Mike. The whole reason I thought that this was a decent project is that there's way more OG metal left than half the projects out there today. Indeed QS, Dave Halls deluxe, and more have all had a new top half.

volksheime wrote:
I say build a boat bottom and mount it up thus taking it back to its roots. Use a 36hp to power it ala Volksliner style and have a rig to give those Schwimmwagens a run for thier money at the Ben Pon show.


Kind of like the idea Brad! Cool

My main problem was that whilst I thought that the bus was justifiably restorable, I needed the VIN to be able to build it. On to the more tedious part of the story. Bear with me ...............

Initially I managed to track down Philip Von Mecklenburg in Sweden, but he had no more information to offer other than confirming that the bus was found next to a lake in Regna, a very small town in the South of Sweden. He couldn’t even remember the name of the guy he bought it from.

I then started reading every resource I knew of, and started making lists of changes to bodies and parts with dates, possible body number locations, and different theories about dating buses. Part VIN numbers, and later body numbers, were initially stamped on some parts of a Barndoor like door tops and the sunroof header bow. This would have been brilliant but was only true of very early buses and mine was too late so this theory drew a blank.
I knew that the bus was built between 1953 and 1955 because it had shallow glass skylights rather than the early style deep Plexiglass skylight, but it took me a long time to date some of the many other changes such as double fuse boxes in the dash moving to a single fuse box under the dash, flat rear “speaker brackets” in the rear corners changing to ribbed speaker brackets, the format of the factory part numbers stamped about the bus changing, etc, etc. All of these could help date this bus, but no-one knew when many of these changes took place.
My next move was to start looking at these details on Barndoor Deluxes throughout the world, contacting various owners for the information, (thank you all), and after some considerable time, I managed to narrow the Regna Deluxe down to a roughly three month production period, albeit across some 10355 chassis numbers.

I am very grateful to a friend in Sweden, (thank you Thomas), who has access to Volkswagen Sweden's archive and subsequently searched this chassis number window turning up 30 RHD barndoor deluxes, although for obvious reasons I wasn't allowed sight of the numbers themselves. No chance the deluxe came from a neighbouring country as they all drove on the other side of the road, so we were getting closer.

I ruled out three of the buses in the list immediately as I knew of them as surviving buses already, and so after months of work I was left with a pool of 27 Barndoor deluxes to choose from but nothing more to go by. And I didn't even have their chassis numbers. Not exactly rewarding to get so close and still not have a result. As it happens though the final piece of the puzzle was just around the corner.
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Project threads:
"51 Barndoor Basket Case"
"'20-020744 "The Tocksfors Rhd"
"Quality Sound 1954 Barndoor Deluxe Puzzle"
"The Regna '54 Deluxe"
"Duraclean 1954 Standard Logo Sunroof"
"1960 A1 Mobile Locksmith Bus with Logos"
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busben
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 2:50 am    Post subject: Re: The Regna '54 Deluxe Reply with quote

Along the way I had been sharing my attempts with Demian, a very good friend of mine who actually lives in Sweden. He was no more sure than I was that we'd actually get anywhere with this, but when I finally came to my impasse at 27 buses, it was him who came up with the next push.

Demian decided to ring the Mayors office in the small town of Regna and ask if anyone remembered the old boat with the Volkswagen on top. And guess what? Yes they did! I guess it had been quite a spectacle back in the day and someone in the mayors office not only remembered the strange boat with the VW on top, but also remembered the old owner; Sune Einarsson from Regna.
Demian quickly tracked down Sune who confirmed that the boat with the bus on had been his, and that when he sold it the new owner hadn’t wanted the VW roof and so it was removed and left by the lake in Regna where Philip Von Mecklenburg later found it. Sune had never owned the entire bus though, and had actually bought the boat with the VW on from another Regna resident called Bo Carlsten.
Next up was a call to Bo who was eventually tracked down and confirmed that he’d bought the boat with the VW on as an unfinished project from an old scrap dealing guy called Stig Berggren who lived in a village called Aby near Norrkooping.
When Demian finally managed to track Stigs 67 year old son down, he sadly discovered that Stig was dead. The son did explain though, that his father often built all sorts of projects with scrap collected from the local area.

I was excited to have this back history, but again we were no further forward since the bus had come from Stigs old yard and any paperwork or documents were long gone. This is where Demian came up with his second brain wave.

Demain had explained previously that whilst Sweden retained in their archives the registration documents for all vehicles that had ever graced a Swedish Road, they were of little use to me unless I had a registration number to search with which sadly I didn’t. He’d previously done some idle on line searching of the Northern Archives, which are digitised, and we’d managed to rule out another Barndoor Deluxe in my vin number window because it was scrapped way up North. Generally though, these archives weren’t of any help.
Now though, things were slightly different. We now knew where the bus was originally scrapped, so we therefore knew what province the bus was last registered in. That means that we also knew what archive we would have to search to find the registration documents.
The public records system in Sweden is a mix of the National Archives, Provincial Archives, County Archives and Municipal Archives. There are currently 25 provinces but 21 administrative counties meaning that the 26 remaining unknown deluxes in my known VIN window would be spread over 21 sets of archives. Now we knew where to look it made for good odds even if distribution across the Country had been uneven, and knowing where it was scrapped meant that we could cross reference any documents that we found.

All a bit confusing I know, and made more so by one MASSIVE stumbling block. The bus was found in the Southern half of Sweden where the records are yet to be digitised. The only way we would be able to find the documents for this bus, despite now knowing where they were housed, would be to physically trawl through random boxes of registration documents covering every make and model of car ever to have been owned in that area of Sweden, all listed in order by their registrations, which we of course didn't know. Demian looked into this and with the number of records housed in the local Vadstena archive, which was only open from 10-4 on weekdays, it could take several weeks to go through them all and dig out any potential candidates.

I didn't have several weeks free, but luckily I have some good friends, and so in April 2015 I ended up parked up outside the Vadstena Archives in Sweden with my friend Dai, waiting for Demian and Gustaf to arrive after their 5 hour drive from Demians house in his ’55 Barndoor.

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Project threads:
"51 Barndoor Basket Case"
"'20-020744 "The Tocksfors Rhd"
"Quality Sound 1954 Barndoor Deluxe Puzzle"
"The Regna '54 Deluxe"
"Duraclean 1954 Standard Logo Sunroof"
"1960 A1 Mobile Locksmith Bus with Logos"
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busben
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:24 am    Post subject: Re: The Regna '54 Deluxe Reply with quote

The archives in Vadstena are housed in the stunning 16th Century Vadstena Castle, which certainly made the experience more pleasurable. Dai and I had a couple of buses to collect from Sweden too so were on a tight schedule, but Demian had a table booked and with four of us we could work pretty fast.
Annoyingly it took the staff a while to get into the swing of what we wanted to achieve, but eventually they stopped bringing us individual boxes of archived documents and started bringing out big trolleys full of archive boxes instead. We made good time and, as boring as it probably was for the guys, I was quite excited about the prospect of finding my bus!

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With all our work, and thousands of registration documents poured over, we only found a couple of deluxes in amongst all the other cars. Nothing fitted our bus unfortunately and, with our time nearly done, we started finishing up when Dai realised that he'd found a likely candidate! It was the right model, right chassis number window, owned in the right area, scrapped in the right place. We all agreed that it had to be the Regna bus, meaning that after all the months of working on this puzzle I now, finally, had the full Swedish registration documents showing all the previous owners and history of the bus. We'd done it!!

Sound like a happy ending right? Well, yes and no. In our time in the Vadstena archives we hadn't had the time to completely exhaust all the boxes of registration documents. Whilst I was 99.9% confident that we’d found the right bus, (probability dictates that I would only find one bus in any of the archives since there were 26 buses out there in my search window and 25 provinces distributed across 21 archives), I kept coming back to the thought that our search wouldn’t be complete until we’d been through all the other boxes and checked every other document. We’d noted down what boxes we’d looked through, but a good few remained unseen.

Long story short, I decided to head back out to Sweden at the earliest opportunity and finish the job properly. I considered flying, but it ended up that in April 2016 Dai and I had some more stuff to collect so we managed to combine another trip to the archives with collecting the early '52 Barnarp RHD barndoor panel van and a split bug that had been purchased on an earlier visit.

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This time when I booked our visit I organised a decent motel for Dai, Demian and myself, (Gustaf was working or I'm sure he'd have helped us again too), so that we were a little fresher and more rested than our last visit. Knowing what we knew from before about how the archives worked helped speed things up too and we flew through the boxes this time. It’s very strange to put so much effort into not finding something but that's exactly what happened and we left relieved that no other candidates had turned up and we could be sure that I definitely had the registration papers for the correct bus. I was a very happy man and the now the build could get underway Cool
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Project threads:
"51 Barndoor Basket Case"
"'20-020744 "The Tocksfors Rhd"
"Quality Sound 1954 Barndoor Deluxe Puzzle"
"The Regna '54 Deluxe"
"Duraclean 1954 Standard Logo Sunroof"
"1960 A1 Mobile Locksmith Bus with Logos"
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streetwagens
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 4:25 am    Post subject: Re: The Regna '54 Deluxe Reply with quote

It was actually good fun in the archives, and probably the most relaxing part of any mad Sweden trip Cool Laughing
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busben
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 4:35 am    Post subject: Re: The Regna '54 Deluxe Reply with quote

Glad to hear it! Appreciated all your help dude Wink

One cool thing to have happened since all this is that we got sent an old newspaper cutting from a local paper.

"A car or a boat?"

The story confirms that Stig Berggren built the crazy boat-bus which is great. Also fantastic to have this old photo! Cool

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Project threads:
"51 Barndoor Basket Case"
"'20-020744 "The Tocksfors Rhd"
"Quality Sound 1954 Barndoor Deluxe Puzzle"
"The Regna '54 Deluxe"
"Duraclean 1954 Standard Logo Sunroof"
"1960 A1 Mobile Locksmith Bus with Logos"
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 5:18 am    Post subject: Re: The Regna '54 Deluxe Reply with quote

Amazing story so far Ben.
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nize
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:18 am    Post subject: Re: The Regna '54 Deluxe Reply with quote

busben wrote:
Glad to hear it! Appreciated all your help dude Wink

One cool thing to have happened since all this is that we got sent an old newspaper cutting from a local paper.

"A car or a boat?"

The story confirms that Stig Berggren built the crazy boat-bus which is great. Also fantastic to have this old photo! Cool

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Very interrestring to follow this bus journey to becoming road worthy! It is a nice piece of bus roof clip+ to start with and especially now when you managed to find its identity. I cant belive you actually pulled that one of. Nice one...

So this one was found at Philip Von Mecklenburgs premises... I remeber buying a cool old caravan from him somewere around the same period as this roof clip must have been found. I never saw it at that time though even if I got to see his big barn with cool stuff. I remember he had a burnt out Porsche 356 outside his barn and alot of other cool stuff such as old Landys and such.

You sure brought back some nice memories with the picture from when we pulled out the bus remains just outside Jönköping Very Happy

By the way... the picture of the boat bus is obviously having its 35:t birthday pretty soon Exclamation
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 9:12 am    Post subject: Re: The Regna '54 Deluxe Reply with quote

Awesome story.

Is the bus boat on dry land in that newspaper photo?
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 10:17 am    Post subject: Re: The Regna '54 Deluxe Reply with quote

That newspaper clipping is the Holy Grail of photographic history find. Absolutely incredible story. Now knowing what the boat looks like, should make it easier to recreate it!
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:11 pm    Post subject: Re: The Regna '54 Deluxe Reply with quote

volksheime wrote:
That newspaper clipping is the Holy Grail of photographic history find. Absolutely incredible story. Now knowing what the boat looks like, should make it easier to recreate it!


lol
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 1:20 am    Post subject: Re: The Regna '54 Deluxe Reply with quote

Thank you guys!

Hey Lyndon! Still rocking those Remotecs on the '51 Wink

Nico dude. Cool that you got to see Philips place. Sounds crazy! Yeh, Jönköping was a brilliant couple of day. So glad you were all there to help me drag that thing out!!

Everett. It looks like it's been pulled out on the edge of the lake with the rear still in the water? If I hadn't found the history and id of the bus then maybe Brads "idea" of building the boat again would have been fun! Laughing
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Project threads:
"51 Barndoor Basket Case"
"'20-020744 "The Tocksfors Rhd"
"Quality Sound 1954 Barndoor Deluxe Puzzle"
"The Regna '54 Deluxe"
"Duraclean 1954 Standard Logo Sunroof"
"1960 A1 Mobile Locksmith Bus with Logos"
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 1:40 am    Post subject: Re: The Regna '54 Deluxe Reply with quote

So throughout this search for the identity of the bus I had remained (foolishly?) optimistic that we might just figure it out. To that end, my thoughts turned to how to go about rebuilding it. I was massively conscious that, despite the bus being so complete from the door handles up, the entire chassis and lower part of the bus were missing and yet I wanted to retain as much originality as possible. Some people don’t care about this stuff and I've seen many buses being restored lately with panels swapped out that, with a little more work, I believe could easily have been saved. I've even seen barndoors have whole chassis swaps with torsions and rails from the wrong year.
It's still great to see these buses getting saved but with so much missing from this one, I really wanted to try and put some "originality" back in and so I started searching for some original German metal to use.
I managed to source a pair of original paint Barndoor Deluxe cargo doors from my good friend Drue, (originally destined for QS), a pair of split bus original paint deluxe cab doors that could have the handle recess adapted, a really straight later front clip to avoid using a repro panel, a genuine Barndoor firewall / over-trans / battery tray section from a cut up Barndoor, a complete front chassis cross member and pedal assembly from a 1954 RHD bus, (thanks Bengt), and also, after quite a lengthy search, a pair of dry, original chassis legs complete with Torsion housing and gearbox cradle all from a 1954 RHD Barndoor that was chopped up a few years back following an accident. I know that I could have used any late barndoor chassis just as easily, but it felt right to use one from a RHD bus on this old girl.

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And with a few Gerson panels for good measure, we had the starting point of the Regna Deluxe rebuild ready to go ...........

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Project threads:
"51 Barndoor Basket Case"
"'20-020744 "The Tocksfors Rhd"
"Quality Sound 1954 Barndoor Deluxe Puzzle"
"The Regna '54 Deluxe"
"Duraclean 1954 Standard Logo Sunroof"
"1960 A1 Mobile Locksmith Bus with Logos"
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 1:52 am    Post subject: Re: The Regna '54 Deluxe Reply with quote

And getting everything else ready for welding …….

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Project threads:
"51 Barndoor Basket Case"
"'20-020744 "The Tocksfors Rhd"
"Quality Sound 1954 Barndoor Deluxe Puzzle"
"The Regna '54 Deluxe"
"Duraclean 1954 Standard Logo Sunroof"
"1960 A1 Mobile Locksmith Bus with Logos"
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 9:14 am    Post subject: Re: The Regna '54 Deluxe Reply with quote

For the VIN, I was reading the rusty 51 deluxe blog, and Florian has a couple pictures of the vin stamped in additional places on his bus. Did they still do this in 54? He also mentioned some of the deluxe bits had parts of the vin on them (last 3?). I can’t remember, but maybe worth asking him.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 10:12 am    Post subject: Re: The Regna '54 Deluxe Reply with quote

What a cool find, I love that photo of the bus boat!
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:18 am    Post subject: Re: The Regna '54 Deluxe Reply with quote

Finally a build thread to follow Dancing Very Happy Very Happy
I miss the good old days of threads like this. Social media is so fleeting. Thesamba is a library of build threads and information.
Thanks Ben for the thread Applause
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 6:49 pm    Post subject: Re: The Regna '54 Deluxe Reply with quote

time to order the birth certificate from Wolfsburg, maybe it get there before you are done welding? Wink
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