Article: Djordje Sugaris / Photos: Milos Nikodijevic
For two years in a row, one 1975 VW T2 has been among the brightest stars of Beetleade in Serbian town Sabac. The van proved to everyone that there are no identical Volkswagens, as its creator Slobodan went a step further, gifting his bus with a truly unique look, adorned with numerous carefully picked details. Thanks to Slobodan’s friends, we met in the ruins of an old factory reminiscent of the notorious San Francisco Bay island, where this T2 could feel at home, and we were ready to hear the story behind this fantastic creation.
As Slobodan explained, it all started with a shop that he owns in the city center. Its safety bars have always reminded him of Alcatraz, and that’s why he named the shop so. After a break which had lasted for several years, Slobodan decided to return to his original love – creative work. Only this time, he decided to focus on cars, not antique furniture. Even though he didn’t have a completely planned look for his VW Bus, he knew the way this restoration was going to go, and it was Alcatraz: “I’ve always been fascinated with organization and big systems. The fact that there are people who control big criminal syndicates from their prison cells had me amazed and so I’ve decided to split the Bus into two wholes – dilapidated exterior and an interior for one to enjoy.
With some help from his friends, Slobodan started by 3D modeling his future project in order to set himself a preview of everything he was about to get done with his skillful hands and vivid imagination. All the graphics on the van have been done by hand, and even the wooden doors were built from scratch. Though they are purely decorative, the doors were given full attention – under a certain light and angle, ghastly skulls can be seen through the glass. A lot of details came from military junkyards, and prime examples of that DIY work are the ladders found on a boat and a stoplight from a military trailer: “I found it on local ads, repainted it and adjusted to its new purpose. I’ve seen a lot of details on the web, and I started combining them to make the seen result. For example, those spikes on the sun visor are from a crop harvester.” Several months ago, Slobodan also found an old camping trailer and has given it the look that goes with the rest of the van, finally completing the exterior.”
In contrast with the blueness of the exterior stood the hand painted sliding door, the gateway into a whole new world inside the van. As Slobodan explained, the interior is a blend of luxury and kitch, and the inspiration was sourced from vastly decorated cells of imprisoned mob leaders. Golden baroque frames presented us the most infamous prisoners of Alcatraz – Al Capone and prison’s most notorious runaways, Frank Lee Morris and Anglin brothers. The underside of red velour rear seat was decorated with a CNC machine-made sugar skulls, and so was the ceiling, which holds a strong a symbolic: “Seen from below, it looks like the inside of one of those luxurious coffins, where most mob bosses usually end up… I love the fact that I’m provoking, pushing people to think. Somebody will find it offensive that I have a cross and a skull on my mirror, somebody will say that he likes nothing but stock look, somebody will congratulate me. I have respect for stock cars, but when you browse the ads and look for a T2 Volkswagen, you get hundreds of similar examples in several different colorways. I’m not saying what I’ve done is good, but it’s just different.”
As the sun was slowly setting down, we moved to the center of the city, where we sat and browsed through endless photographs and renders which documented the whole process of restoration and customization. “For me, the best part is the moment of creating” Slobodan confessed, adding that he’s set his eyes on another project, most probably another Volkswagen, and a T1. Seeing his finished project up close and in all detail, we can’t wait to see what the next one will look like.