There’s a turquoise 1967 Volkswagen 19 window Kombi Van cruising around in the waters of the Channel Islands Harbor and people are taking notice. It’s hard to miss.
It’s not exactly the real thing, but a renovated 1996 Duffy Cat 16 Electric Boat that has a distinct look, amazing detail, and some cool features. Features include a smoke machine to replicate exhaust, a stereo system that projects a VW motor revving sound, original Volkswagen steering wheel & knobs, a repurposed knotmeter from a sail boat to serve as the speedometer, 12 color underwater lights that glow during night cruises, and a license plate that reads “H20 BUS.”
Frank Laza, the owner of Central Coast Electric Boats at the Harbor, said he and his wife Gayle have put a lot of work into this one-year passion project. The Lazas have called the Channel Islands Harbor home for 22 years – 15 years in the electric boat business.
“In all the years we’ve been doing this at the Harbor we haven’t had a boat of our own,” Laza said. “We’ve had boats that we’ve bought and sold. It’s our business. When this project came along, we’ve decided to just keep it.”
You can’t blame the Lazas for wanting to keep this renovated 1996 Duffy Cat 16. Quite a bit of work has gone into it.
Last year they received a call about a Duffy boat that had been underwater in Malibou Lake. The boat sank during a torrential rain cycle. The Lazas bought the boat and began replacing all the elements of the boat, including electrical, upholstery, the dashboard, and more.
“Everything on the boat is brand new, we just started with the original shell,” Laza said.
After renovating the boat, they had a 1967 Volkswagen Kombi Van wrap put on in Westlake Village. The Lazas said the design of the Duffy lent itself to being easily wrapped like a VW Kombi Van. Plus, they received some inspiration from their best friends Karen and Larry, who are the original owners of a turquoise 1972 VW Bus of their own.
“We both liked the idea and just decided to go for it,” Gayle Laza said.
Laza said the Duffy has been on the water for a month and the reception has been great, but they are looking to make one more addition.
“Since we’ve finished the project, Gayle said she really wants a Beatles yellow submarine. So we are actively looking for a shell to build that yellow submarine,” Laza said.