Southend-on-Sea - 1961
When Bernard first left school back in the early ’60s, his first job was that of a ‘Detailer’ (valeting) from which he eventually worked his way up through the ranks to become a mechanic. Back then he was best described as a Mod and could often be found buzzing around Southend (on the Essex Coast) on a very Modified Vespa GS scooter. Soon after passing his driving test, on the 3rd attempt, Bernard bought a Ford Anglia, which he had started to customize within 2 weeks of purchasing! He lowered the suspension, removed the bumpers (race-style) and, before he knew it, Bernard had entered his first race. Bernard was so fixated with racing he would compete anywhere and in just about any kind of competition, whether it be autocross, circuit or drag. Incidentally, Bernard raced at Santa Pod the first year it opened! The only changes to the set-up back then would a few sets of tyres to suit various types of surface/track… Now that's what we call budget racing! Following the Anglia, Bernard bought an Austin Mini and soon realised he couldn't find anyone to undertake custom modifications to the standards he required. To this end, Bernard eventually started his own business specialising in custom interiors. It was also around this time that Bernard got married, which stopped any racing for a while! Well, that’s not completely true, there was also the fact that he rolled the Mini and completely destroyed it.

Volksworld - June '89
Several years later, Bernard had two significant customers cross the threshold, Richard King and Stewart Bishop. At that point, Richard was building a red Karmann Ghia Cabriolet, which some might say sparked the burgeoning UK Cal-Look scene and Stewart was building a ’53 Oval. Bernard eventually trimmed both vehicles, and Stewart’s Oval went on to win Best Interior at the very first Bug Jam back in 1987 as well as being featured in the very first edition of VolksWorld in the same year. In 1986, Bernard’s son, Louis, joined him straight from school and was keen to inject young ideas and to emulate what was going on in the scene. So, in 1988 a clapped out ’67 bug was bought for just £60 and work started on the new project, named ‘No Lemon’ – a lemon yellow Cal-Looker, which was featured in VolksWorld magazine back in the June ’89 issue. Although it was never a show winner, ‘No Lemon’ was an important car as it caused both Bernie and Louis to specialise in custom VW interiors. Also around this time, Bernard and Louis were powerboat water-ski racing at a semi-professional level, eventually becoming members of the British team and racing all over Europe most weekends. However, during a race in Rotterdam in ’90, Louis injured his back so badly he wouldn't be able to ski competitively again, so it was time for Bernard to go back to concentrate his efforts on his first love... modified cars!

Boom Box - Bug Jam 92
Anyone who knows Bernard will know his attention to detail, and this was ever present when building his powerboats. He even won the Concourse D'Elegance 3 years in a row for the best-prepared boat at the annual British Water ski Federation award ceremony. It's this award that lead Bernard to build one of the most ground breaking VWs to ever come out of this country and possibly the World. Over the winter of ’91/’92 Bernard helped finish Louis’ Type 3 squareback project, and at the last moment decided he would enter it in the first VolksWorld show at the Rex Centre in Birmingham! A wise decision indeed as the car walked away with a trophy for ‘Best Interior’. It was also at this show that Bernard first met Simon Emery of The Paintbox and formed a lasting and close friendship. Also around this time, Bernard had noticed at various cruises that the loudest vehicles often attracted the biggest crowds and thus ‘The Boom Box’ (Type 25 van) was born. This served as an interim show vehicle and as an attraction to his trade stand at various shows (including Louis DJing from it at Bug Jam ‘92).

Volksworld - August '92
Once finished and put to bed it was down to the serious business of building a proper show car – just as Bernard thought a show car should be. This was further fuelled by a persistent Louis claiming, “if you can build a concourse winning boat, just think what you could do with a car”,and so the green Ghia was born! The Ghia was originally swapped for a full interior, the deal being done without Bernard having even seen the car in question. The car was built outside under a tarpaulin over the winter of ’92/’93 and was debuted at Volksfest in May of ’93, where it won numerous trophies, including Best of Show. Over the next few years, both here in the UK and all across Europe the car won more trophies than Bernard can even remember including the highest accolade from the custom/hot rod scene – that of winning ‘Best in Britain’ at the Doncaster Custom Show. While the Ghia was doing the show circuit, waiting in the wings was a ’56 Oval to be built for his wife, Carol. This was built during ’94/’95 and debuted at the VolksWorld show in ’95, where it won Best Interior and Best Cal Look. However, in ’96 whilst on the way home from Bug Jam, a part on the brake pedal broke away and the Oval was damaged.

Santa Pod - Late '90s
Dismayed but never one to give up, Bernard decided to rebuild the car into a real street racer and like a Phoenix from the ashes; ‘The Blue Oval’ was created. Bernard decided the Oval would do one show only, the VolksWorld Show in ’97, as a promotion tool for the performance parts he was starting to sell. Although it was not entered in the Show’n’Shine, it went on to win the prestigious ‘Best of Show’ award!From ’97 the Oval was then raced at Santa Pod Raceway whenever Bernard had the chance, eventually leading to a best time of 11.93-seconds @112mph. Bernard being Bernard, he soon wanted to go quicker, which brings us up to 2001 when he first acquired a ’66 Bug with which to build a copy of the legendary black Berg race car. This car was awarded ‘Best Type 1’ at the VolksWorld Show in 2002, and was raced until the end of the 2004 season with a best time of 11.46-seconds. This was the point at which Bernard decided to make the car his and not a copy of someone else’s. As Bernard had a lifelong love of gasser-style race cars ‘Stitch Up’ debuted in 2005 with a completely new engine, new paint, new graphics, new trim and even new wheels and, to date, has run a best time of 9.88 seconds @ 134.15

Paul Knight
Editor of Ultra VW

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With over 40 years experience and winning awards for the last 25 years, our work has frequently won Best Of Show and Best Interior at many of the major events such as the Volksworld Show, Bug Jam, VW Action and many more VW & custom car shows. We've also had well over 100 features & cover cars in Ultra VW, Volksworld, Hot VWs, Super VW, Performance VW, Customs Car, Street Machine and many many more.

Split Screen & Bay Window Campers, Beetles, Karmann Ghias, Type 3, T25, T4 & T5 vans & Golfs, as well as Audi, Porsche, other VAG, non VAG, Classic, Hot Rod, Custom and Modified cars. All work carried out on seats, door panels, carpets, headliners and hoods are undertaken with an extensive selection of leather, vinyl, pvc, alcantara, plaid, tweed, wool cloth, carpet (including square weave) and mohair.

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