Leeds bartenders transform campervan into cocktail bar

Timmy and Chris prepare to serve cocktails from their mobile campervan bar
Timmy and Chris prepare to serve cocktails from their mobile campervan bar
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Two Leeds bartenders have teamed up to transform a battered VW Kombi into Yorkshire's first 'cocktail camper'.

Timmy Wright, 28, and Chris Newman, 43, have converted the 1973 van into a funky bus to serve drinks at weddings and events, after battling several setbacks along the way.

Mabel was in poor condition when they found her in Somerset

Mabel was in poor condition when they found her in Somerset

The project was funded by investment from Chris's father Trevor, who sadly passed away before the conversion of Mabel the van was complete.

Timmy, of Garforth, and Chris, who lives in Swillington, met while working for a mobile events company, and were keen to launch a business of their own which combined their love for classic cocktails and double-decker bus bars.

"After weeks of searching auto websites, marketplaces, Gumtree, Ebay and free papers, we came across our dream girl - a yellow beauty called Mabel," said Timmy.

The Westfalia vintage camper was in poor condition but within the pair's price range, although she was being sold by an owner in Somerset.

The van will appear at weddings, private parties and events

The van will appear at weddings, private parties and events

"It took a full day to get her back to Leeds, which really sank into our funds as she had to come via a flatbed truck. I thought it would be a good idea to get dropped off in Morley and drive her the rest of the way rather than pay extra to get to Swillington.

"It was like driving a boat and sounded like an old school broken vacuum. Once I got used to the gears and its wide turns, we were soon roaring down the motorway at 35mph until I started to slow down and lop to one side. I looked back and notice the wheel had fallen off! I called Chris and he came and towed us the rest of the way."

A full examination of the camper revealed that Mabel had been painted yellow to disguise chronic rust, meaning Timmy and Chris had to replace several of her panels as well as the gearbox. After numerous breakdowns and trouble finding a specialist mechanic, the pair struggled to stay under their budget.

"Despite the constant setbacks, we were not going to quit. Chris's father believed we could do it and gave us his last penny to pursue our dream. Between us we managed to bump and scrape whatever we could. All our savings were spent, but we were getting somewhere."

During a 'hardcore pamper weekend', Mabel was stripped down, soldered, sanded and painted - but before Chris could show his father the finished van, he received the devastating news that Trevor had died.

"It was obviously a huge blow to Chris. His dad was a huge part of his life, and he also gave us our golden ticket. Losing a parent is the hardest thing that can happen to anyone. But it made Chris more determined to succeed and to make his father proud. Despite planning the funeral, making arrangements for his dad's home and pet dog Muffin, he carried on."

Mabel - now painted lilac - was kitted out with bar fittings and launched as Liquor Lab Events. She made her debut at Timmy's own wedding at East Riddlesden Hall in Keighley, and is now available for hire.

Timmy and Chris will also bring her to Leeds Pride later this summer.

Lemon Meringue
. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

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