The Devils Milk Float – 1965 VW Type2 Coachbuild

Words by Ned Faux & Photos by Vince Hutchings – First published Hayburner Issue 30

We have a fair bit of ground to cover with this one. I would like to start with a brief explanation of why this feature means so much to us here at the magazine.

March 2012 feels like a lifetime ago. Issue 1 of Hayburner Magazine had been released only a month before and I was visiting Volksworld show attempting to keep a low profile because of the general feeling I’d pissed a few off at the media company and still being green enough to listen to the Chinese whispers that Ivan McCutcheon was going to “tear me a new one” if we crossed paths. With this in mind, I had managed to blag a pass that got me in early and I was walking around trying to snap a few photos before most were out of bed.

This is when I first laid eyes on the Devils Milk Float. It completely stopped me in my tracks. I was already a fan of Evil Bens work, having fallen in love with the slammed country buggy he’d built back in 2009 but this was just something else. I must have taken 100 photographs of the DMF and thought how cool it would be to get a creation such as this in to the magazine.

At this time, Ben walked over. I wanted to ask if he’d be interested in having it featured but I was just too shy – This was Evil Ben! Already a legend… I was a nobody trying to hand out a magazine nobody had heard of. All I could muster up was a “Nice work mate”. Ben replied “Thank you” and I scuttled off. That ended up being an important weekend for me. The new magazine, Hayburner, seemed to be well received and Ivan didn’t offer me out – Just shook my hand like a true gentleman, gave me some advice that I’ve never forgotten and we’ve been friends ever since.

Eight years, 30 issues and 330,000 copies of Hayburner later and I still had to ask my friend Si Medlicotte to ask Ben if we could feature DMF for me… because I’m still too shy. Yes, I think Ben’s work is that cool. I am truly honoured to be bringing you this feature and only hope we do it the justice it deserves.

So… Here it is! The Devils Milk Float in all it’s glory.

Let’s start with a bit of background regarding Ben and his business. Ben’s been in to Volkswagens since ’87 when he was 14 years old. He’d been a fan of Custom Car magazine and seen a feature on a black Oval, this spurred him on to pick up issue 3 of Volksworld and that was that. He was hooked. He went on to do all early Bug Jams and experiencing what many think of as the ‘golden years’ of the UK VW scene. At the time he daily drove a Trekker and owned a Bay, a ’71 Beetle and various 2CV’s, remember ‘Fenderd ’57’? This car he originally built in his garage in 1999. By 2004, he was working for German and Swedish taking full advantage of his parts discount and saving as much as he could until he was ready to move down to Cornwall where he found a job in his fathers factory making bath tubs.

This job didn’t change anything when it came to his love of old VW’s and actually built his brothers ’72 Squareback on the factory floor surrounded by bath tubs. Unfortunately, the business eventually went bust and Ben decided to keep doing what he loved and got a job at a local VW specialists. The time at this shop only lasted around 14 months where he came to the conclusion that he was so often left working by himself and already having the experience from years of building cars it was time to set up his own company. This was the birth of Evil Ben’s. The name was given to him by his friends young daughter Ruby Jonson who always called him ‘Evil Ben’ as a term of endearment – Tragically Ruby passed away and Ben kept the name in her memory.

Over the next two years, Ben worked as a one man band and in 2009 built the Country Buggy I mentioned earlier in this article. This car had a serious ‘wow factor’ and really put the Evil Ben name on the map. In 2011, Ben’s employee Mike Attewell came in buzzing about an advert on of a weird coach-built Volkswagen. The pair of them were both in to the ‘weird and wonderfull’ when it came to interesting air-cooled cars but this one really ticked their boxes.

The car in question was a handmade aluminium body mounted on a split bus chassis coachbuilt by a company called ‘Keller Karosserie Lampertheim’ based in Austria and still in existence to this day. The car was owned by a German named Benedikt Otte. The car had been found by Benedikt when he had driven his Split bus down to his local scrapyard to pick up parts and the scrap dealer told him he might have something he’d be interested in. The story is that the car was never a milk float (just a pet name it was given) but a generic utility vehicle and was one of 4 made. This one was the original display model and was then put in to service for a furniture company. Rumour has it that there is one other survivor still somewhere in Germany.

Ben couldn’t resist it. He did the deal and left for Mannheim, Germany to pick up his new project. The bus came back to the UK in November 2011 and the plan was to display it at the Volksworld show. Now, we are not talking about throwing the shell on another chassis and and dragging it there for a bit of fun. We are talking about a fully custom detail restoration in 4 months! And if that doesn’t sound full-on enough – Do you remember the Ruby Red ’61 Beetle with the polished Fuchs and fender skirts that stole the Volksworld in 2012? Well, that was being built at Evil Bens at the same time too and had to be ready to display inside on the same date! 

The first step was to see what sort of condition this odd-ball was in. The aluminium coachwork was good but pretty much everything that was Volkswagen was in very poor condition if not completely rotten. The coachbuilders had used ’65 Type2 chassis which Ben was determined to repair and save to keep the buses original integrity. Added was a narrowed beam, steering box raise and full straight axle conversion on a new gear box and adjustable spring plates. It was then channelled by 3’’ to drop the body and Air bags added to the rear and air shocks at the front which Ben finds, if set up properly, can work particularly well. The bus already was built to run a Type3 engine – due to its flat shape – so they built a 1600 with Twin 36’s and having all the tin wear powder coated. Once the full set up had been decide on and parts purchased, the entire vehicle was dry built then disassembled so parts could be sand blasted, painted or powder coated ready for reassembly.

The aluminium body was carefully rubbed back with Scotch-Brite and painted using paint left over from Ben’s brothers Bay window. This colour works perfectly with the ghosted sign writing. The headlight rings were re-chromed and the indicators swapped for a pair taken from an Eriba Puck. Lucky for them, all the glass was present and they left the dash board as it was but he added an Oval indicator stalk to the steering column and a Massey Ferguson steering wheel. Ben had the front bench seat reupholstered to resemble a Chesterfield sofa and the cab floor carpet was actually taken from his spare bedroom. In the load area was originally checker plate but they went to Wood Stock Bournemouth and had timber slats cut to size which Mike oiled up an fitted to the load bed.  Above, Stuart at the Old Crow Speedshop made a perfectly fitting  bespoke canvas roof with leather fasteners and to finish it off the DMF was treated to a set of detailed flat4 Fuchs with tall 195 80 tyres at the rear.

Not bad for 4 months work huh? Now, 8 years have past and the Devils Milk Float still looks a fresh as the day it was built. This vehicle is about as individual as they come and genuinely can’t see people ever getting bored of looking at it. I just hope now he’s blown the dust off, he might fancy displaying it again because it really is the one to see.

Ben would like to thank the German Folks worldwide, the German Folks UK in particular, Mike Attewell and James Self. His wife Lucy for putting up with my stupid ideas and cars. Last of all thanks to Bluebell and Buster – They’re just the cats but they make Ben happy.

Just to let you guys know for the right price Ben might be persuaded to sell as a new bigger project is on the horizon…

DMF - Full Gallery