Paul Dussault teamed up with VIVID VANS to create Vanagon Outlaws, a beautiful movie about a passionate and unique establishment.
After watching “Vanagon Outlaws”, we knew we had to reach out to Nathan Ryobi Daigle. We had the opportunity to ask him some questions about VIVID, what they do, and making the movie, Vanagon Outlaws.
Please introduce VIVID VANS and where it is based.
VIVID VANS is based on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. We are a small van shop in a small village that no-one has ever heard of: Cowichan Bay. We work pretty exclusively with the VW Vanagon platform, and we love all vans and adventure pigs.
What was the inspiration behind starting VIVID VANS? How did everything begin?
My inspiration for starting VIVID VANS stems from a trip south I had planned five years ago. I was heading to Patagonia to surf with the penguins, but I made it as far as Baja and blew all my cash on beef tacos. So, I came back north in search of work and was hired by a company on BC’s sunshine coast that made skylights for Vanagon Westy’s. I was really taken with the culture and community surrounding Vanagon’s and sort of dove into the quicksand. Over the next few years, I continued deeper into the rabbit hole. I was working for a crazy German doctor who converts vans to run on veggie diesel. My partner Kim and I were about to have a baby. The only logical thing to do was to quit my job and start building my dream: VIVID VANS.
Can you tell us a bit about your team and how you’ve built the crew you have today?
My team is my bone marrow bedrock. We are a group of misfit hunks who somehow ended up working on vans all day, every day. We are brothers bound by blood, sweat, and beers. Quentin came on pretty early, I was paying him to do the stuff that I didn’t want to do, and to be honest not much has changed. Fun fact: Quentin designed our logo while on a family trip to Italy.
How did your relationship with Volkswagens/Vanagons begin?
I grew up around American cars. My dad always dragged me to these old American car shows. He had a highly modified Fiat X1/9 that just bored me to tears. Fast forward ten years later and I found my own love for automobiles through camping and the pursuit of adventure. I was a big fan of Poler stuff (R.I.P.) and Foster Huntington’s adventures. The Vanagon Westfalia just seemed like the coolest rig to me. All that stuff my dad had taught me about mechanics and vehicle function could now be put to use.
What has been the most memorable van you’ve worked on?
My first van “Marv”. Cost me five thousand bucks. I was still in University obtaining an Anthropology degree and all I could think about was that dang van. I was pouring over The Samba forum posts and learning everything I could about how to make that Vanagon run well. It now sits filthy and unloved on the streets of Vancouver.
Can you discuss what separates VIVID VANS from other shops/restoration companies?
VIVID VANS does not follow a typical auto repair shop model. We aren’t really following any models. Instead, we are trying to let the company organically grow in its best direction. We each infuse the company with our individual personalities and desires. It’s like a cup of van shop tea. We are primarily focused on building our “big dog builds” to the highest automotive specs, and then distilling those customized mechanical services into smaller individual jobs. We really want to move our services away from the typical shop experience. From keeping your van alive to making your van thrive. Or something like that.
Where do you see VIVID VANS in the upcoming years? What are your long-term plans for the company?
We are actually moving the shop this month into an old lodge, up a dirt road with no cell reception. I think it’s going to work out great. We have a few dream builds on the go which should be done by next spring. Other long term plans include expanding the lifestyle side of the brand, and introducing a taste of vivid vans to other countries, and other planets.
Can you tell me about the recent video project VIVID worked on, “Vanagon Outlaws”?
Paul Dussault and I had been exchanging a few kiss and waves over Instagram over the last year. He asked me if I would like to like to make a movie about the shop. I said yes, and a month later he was out here making “Vanagon outlaws”. It was a magical experience.
Any other details or stories you would like to add?
Working with Paul almost killed me. I hope you enjoy the film!
Please provide some links where people can find you online!
Facebook: Vivid Vans
YouTube: Vivid Vans