Our NZ Campervan

4 02 2012

The kombi we are currently travelling NZ in is a 1975 T2b VW camper from Classic Campers. The campervan conversion is from the English company Devon Ltd. This company still exists and nowadays offers VW T5 campervan conversions, but the web page unfortunately has no useful information on their history and the camper conversions of the 1970ies VWs. Apparently the most common classic VW campervan conversions can be differentiated by the way their pop-up roofs operate: Devon conversions pop upwards altogether, Westfalia conversions fold up via hinges at the front or back of the bus, and Dormobile roofs fold up via a hinge along the side of the van. Our Devon camper has a nice large pop up roof which provides standing height for the back part of the car (if you are smaller then say 1.85m). The speedo is in miles-per-hour, with stickers reminding you of the relevant km/h, which are actually pretty useful. (The change to the metric system in New Zealand happened in December 1976, so our little camper predates it by one year.) Unusual 240V electricity inlet, sticking out from the side of the van – but I have seen this now with a number of older and also very modern campervans in NZ.

The gas cooker block, the sink unit and the rock-and-roll bench/bed are still original Devon. The kitchen block opposite the sliding door has been replaced by a more modern cup board with a 12V fridge.

The two-flame Devon cooker is pretty cool: Metal side boards fold up to form a chimney which protects the unit from wind and probably also the curtains from the flames. The complete block can swing out of the car so that one can cook either inside or outside the van. Fun to see this sophisticated seventies (or sixties?) design still working beautifully.

First bacon and eggs breakfast on the Devon cooker.

Anyway, it’s great to back in a kombi!

A happy blogger...

New Zealand in a Classic Camper

2 02 2012

After visiting family and friends in Australia for the last two months, we are still on parental leave, but will now spoil ourselves with three weeks of travelling in New Zealand. And we will do this in style in a 1975 Volkswagen campervan! We hired this beauty from Classic Campers, a campervan rental company in Silverdale just outside of Auckland. It is owned and run by Bevan and Andrea Beattie and comprises a fleet of nine kombis (one split-window, five T2as and T2bs and three T3s) and several more modern campers. Check out their web page (click here) for more information on their buses. We had a great start when we picked up our van two days ago. Andrea and Bevan welcomed us with a cup of tea, lunch and lots of information on what we can do and should not miss on our trip through New Zealand. Our bus is a T2b Devon camper conversion which comes with bedding, a fully equipped kitchen, camping chairs & table, a small annex and, last but not least, a baby capsule for our now 5-month-old daughter. Before we started out on our trip, we had a look at the other buses that were around, and at a number of current and future projects, in restoration or waiting for restoration. There are some pictures below – hope you will enjoy them!

This is Van No. 2, a 1973 T2b campervan with a customized Devon camper conversion.

Van No. 3, a 1969 T2a campervan with original Westfalia conversion.

Another view of Van No. 3, with bike carrier fitted. The last customers, a family with two small kids, rented it complete with two montain bikes and two children's bike seats.

Van No. 5, a 1975 Devon campervan and our companion for the next three weeks. More soon!

Buses under restoration (T2a in the foreground) and waiting for restoration (T1 single cab in the background).

And what’s this “Bulli” anyway?

23 11 2011

For the German VW bus fanatic it’s all about bullis. Bit of a shame that “bully” in English means something completely different. In German “bulli” is the general term for all VW bus generations, though preferably for the early ones, the T1s (1950-1967) and T2s (1967-1979). The different translations: In the UK it’s a Campervan or a Veedub bus, in the USA a Microbus, and in Australia and South Africa a Kombi. The different VW bus generations are the split window or splitty (T1), the bay window or bay (T2), and the wedge (T3). Please comment if I got this wrong or if it’s incomplete.

“Bulli” is most likely short for “bus and delivery van” (German “Bus und Lieferwagen“). Volkswagen did not own the rights to use the term when the VW bus was brought to market in 1949/1950. They bought the trademark only in about 2007. And then started introducing a special “Bulli” edition of the current T5 model, and also sueing other companies not to use the name, such as the Berlin VW bus rental company “Berlin Bulli”. For details click here (Welt newspaper article). A bit of trivia: One of the co-founders of Berlin Bulli is Christian „Flake“ Lorenz, Keyboarder of the band Rammstein.

Foto: Berlin Bulli, taken from the news paper article “Die Welt”, see link above.

Note addedd, August 2012: The guys at Berlin Bulli gave up and entered into an agreement with Volkswagen where they will not use the word Bulli in their name anymore. The new name is Hippiebus-Berlin.de. They are one of three businesses of Classic Depot Berlin.