It was a hot summer day in Arizona. You could feel the dry desert air engulf you. It felt like a hair dryer was constantly blowing on your face.
Hans Hormann, woke up at 4am for a day trip to Phoenix to see about a bus. He arrived to find a 1972 Kombi, glistening in the sun. It was sitting there in the middle of a backyard - a bit rusted with one flat tire, chocolate brown and cream exterior, with a “nice-enough” interior. This diamond in the rough belonged to a lesbian couple until the maintenance of such a vehicle got to be too much for them to handle. After a brief negotiation with the owners, Hans towed it back to his hometown of Ventura, CA to fix her up.
Hans would often buy beat-up old buses and flip them, but he realized early on this bus was different. He and his wife, Liana, knew it right from day one. He said, “I saw that brown and cream bus and it reminded me of a root beer float. I loved it!”
In his driveway, he assessed the situation: flat tire, barely starts, doesn’t run for long, etc. He decided to start in and weld the motor mount. Then he needed to get the engine going. He took it to a mechanic in Ventura who also had a tough time getting it to run. Hans took matters into his own hands and in his own words, “I whacked the carburetor for a while and kept trying, then boom, it started!” He went on to flip another bus to make enough money to get the entire motor rebuilt. He said goodbye to the root-beer-float brown & white and painted her Turkish Green. He added some finishing touches, like those sweet handmade curtains, a new radio, and a wooden crate dash holder. Before he knew it, he was cruising around in one of the coolest rides in town. Hans and his wife Liana fell in love.
On a joy ride around their wedding day, a close friend made the comment that she rides “slow and steady, just like a seagull.” From then on, she was named Seagull.
Right around this time, the #thatvanagain crew discovered Seagull on Hans’ social media feed. And, after a few months of being insanely jealous, we asked to take her for a weekend bachelor party/surf trip to Big Sur. Hans rented Seagull to us in exchange for some photos of Seagull... and we fell in love. A few months later, Hans and Liana got pregnant, and priorities set in. “We need more space!” they said. So with a tear in their eye, they decided to sell Seagull and help fund an addition on the house.
A few years back, we (Tony, Scott, and Brett) made a pact to make films about the thing we love most - surfing. Along the way, we realized our shared passion for VW vans and the underlying root beneath them...the yearn for freedom. We made this passion-project official and launched the #thatvanagain project to tell these stories of freedom. And now, Seagull the Bus, is our own story to tell.
We negotiated the deal over beers at a local brewery and 10 minutes after we signed the papers, Scott headed home to check on his 9-month pregnant wife. A few hours later, they welcomed a sweet baby boy named Julian to the family. So the day we adopted Seagull, Scott and his wife brought a new life into the world. We took that as a sign of great things to come.
Owning Seagull the Bus means so much to us. The three of us all have kids. It’s great to see how much they love Seagull. Their imaginations are sparked as they climb inside. Games, adventures, sing-alongs, naps, meals, dance parties, etc are all possible at any given moment. In the words of our co-director Scott Erickson, “Seagull the Bus, is like a fun cousin who comes to town to visit without being tied to the practical realities of life.”
We've been all up and down the California coast in Seagull and some of our greatest memories in life are being forged together in this bus, as a creative partnership and with our familes. The feeling that we’re going to take it slow and go the long way, maybe get stuck in the sand, is ever pervasive and inspiring. She brings us the freedom to roam this great country and sleep anywhere we choose.
We’re thankful that Hans found her, loved her, and passed the keys for us to continue the lovefest! Here’s to good times ahead, more babies, surf sessions, camp vibes, and that sense of adventure & freedom. Yeeewww!!!!
If you have a VW story, we’d love to hear it in the comments section below. Please follow us on instagram @thatvanagain and Facebook, and follow the hashtag #thatvanagainproject for some behind the scenes imagery of these films coming together.