The Cool Flo Cooler - Unseen VW Speed Magazine images
Posted on March 03 2016
The Carter Brothers - Darren, Scott and Jamie, are the founders behind Cool Flo, widely known beyond the borders of England. Here’s the story of the three brothers and their unique ‘Cooler’.
This article is republished in English for the first time ever, with permission from VW Speed Magazine (February '14). It's also the first time many of these Cooler shots have been published.
The guys from Cool Flo are known to most in the air-cooled VW scene now. They’ve hardly missed any shows in the last few years, Bugin, Spa or even the MaikäferTreffen meeting - Cool Flo is always there! But what's behind Cool Flo? It’s more than just their buses, whether it be old 60’s scooters and BMX bikes on display around the booth or simply a great welcoming atmosphere. What is the history of the three cool British brothers and what is it actually feeds their aspirations and dreams? This story doesn’t feature a rich father, a private bank or offshore dirty money, just living the dream and pure hard work to create a lifestyle brand within the VW world and beyond.
A very special family
Darren, Scott and Jamie are brothers. Sharing more than just their surnames. All three are absolute VW enthusiast nuts. Scott’s first car was a 1967 6 Volt beetle and “owned it before I had a licence at the age of 16”. Jamie began his career with a 64 bug and Darren purchased 1962 split screen camper.
Since the brothers also work closely together and have done for over twenty years, it was only logical when it came to their hobby that they placed their funds together. "We just threw all of our savings together and simply divide the cost by three. This means that all the VWs that we have in our collection today are pretty much a 3 way ownership.
It was the only way we could purchase the buses and make our dreams come true. We also knew that after many years we would reach the point where each of us would end up with a bus each."
Now it might of got out of hand a little, but the beginning of this whole lifestyle and culture for the brothers is now well over 25 years in the making. At a time when buses weren’t quite as popular as they are today, specifically early split screens, "It was just a love of panel vans that really got hold of us".
And so it was a dove blue 52 barndoor panel was the first purchase, to give a personal touch to the patina’d bus, the three brothers wanted to uniquely logo the vans – just like period original commercials did back in the day. So we made a drawing a scribble on a piece of paper and gave them to Neil and Mandy Melliard of Prosign. “The result of which is the recognised Cool Flo script today!" But it wasn’t just the Carter brothers who were thrilled with the result. "At the first VW meeting we visited with our newly logo’d bus we had lots of people showing great interest and asking questions about the logo and the company behind it.
"As we drove home in the evening, we had time to think about these initial reactions. An idea hit us and we wondered if we could create a Cool Flo brand within the VW scene that we all loved so much. We felt that the brand would be something that people could identify with quickly. We decided we would print the script lettering on clothes. And the Cool Flo clothing company was born. When you purchase a piece of Cool Flo clothing, it’s not just something to wear – but a piece of lifestyle associated with a our brand - one with true authenticity to its roots.” With its mix of old school BMX, 60’s Scooters, surf, skate, music and Volkswagen, the Carter brothers have touched the nerve of the scene.
Darren says “Our clothing company was founded by enthusiasts for enthusiasts and always manufactured to the highest quality. The initial idea of Cool Flo was to produce quality from the start giving the customer something they really loved. Its was born through hard work and the increasing global traction and success is so inspiring for us all.”
The Cooler joins the collection in the Cool Flo Cave in London
The obvious extension of their VW collection is a natural route for the brothers and feeds their ever growing love for classic VW, but also keeps a steady momentum of Cool Flo’s brands roots.
You can admire the latest addition to their ingenious collection, it goes by the name of ‘The Cool Flo Cooler’. The bus was originally built by Guy and Ted of Slamwerks in the UK. It eventually came up for sale and the Carter brothers jumped at the chance of owning something so unique. They had the idea of a theme to reinvent the bus with that retro cool 60s appeal, reminiscent of a retro cool box from that period, hence the name.
With some airbrushing works by Prosign, Andy Finch of Spikes Vintage Restorations carried out body repairs to straighten the cab and applied the new paint colour. The ride was completely freshened up with its new look and ready to hit the scene in its new guise. The bus is an original right hand drive 1968 bay window. It accommodates 2 adults and a child in the over head bunk and features a kitchen with double burner cooker, fridge and sink. It’s like home from home, but just ‘Cooler’ (excuse the pun).
If you think you’re just looking at an old caravan put on the back you would be very wrong. In principle, the whole bus was redesigned with the rear body hand fabricated in aluminium and built on a widened chassis.
The early bay was stripped down to the chassis leaving front cab only. The gearbox & motor has been raised about six centimetres higher, to gain this awesome looking stance and ride height. At the front there’s a completely new narrowed front beam, which positioned the shocks a good four centimetres higher. This makes for an excellent ride in comfort but with an extremely slammed stance.
Together with the newly constructed tubs, the original 6 x 15” Fuchs wheels have sufficient clearance for trouble free cruising. The bus runs a 1915cc motor with Porsche disc brakes all round. The Carter brothers have travelled to numerous shows throughout Europe in the Cooler, stating that the reaction the bus gets is “like nothing else they’ve ever driven before… From young kids pointing it out on the street to elderly people raising huge smiles as it drives by, it’s just so much fun.”
PICS & WORDS: Sven Zimmermann
Article republished with permission from VW Speed Magazine