50-Year Anniversary of the T2 Bay Window Bus!

2 09 2018

Ok, this blog post comes a year late, but the buses below are so beautiful that I rather post them late than never. So, last year the bay window bus or T2 turned 50. I joined the German T2 owner’s club, the Interessengemeinschaft T2 and at the end of August our little family took part in the annual club meeting in Hannover. In the Hannover Volkswagen factory the VW transporters have been built since 1956. I don’t get the exact numbers together anymore but we were told that of all of the six generations of buses that have been or are being built in this factory, the T2 was the bus generation that was built there in the highest numbers. And on the occasion of this club meeting, the T2 club had the privilege to drive, in a convoy, through the Volkswagen factory site. So on the second day of the meeting, about 80 VW buses started from the camp ground to the factory, gathered in front of the factory, drove in convoy thorough the factory and assembled again in front of it for official photos (which can be found e.g. here and here). But that’s enough background, here come the promised photos. Enjoy!

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Our home base with Taiga Lily

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So far nobody knows how old a VW can actually get…

 

 

 





Early Bay Window Campervan

6 04 2018

Here comes a self-converted campervan, spotted in Sep 2016 here in Berlin. It is based on an early bay window bus (T2a), so from between 1967 and 1971. Beautiful dark red paint jobs that looks as if it was redone not long ago. The bumper bars and wheels and also the wall between driver’s cabin and rear compartment come in a yellowish-white color (ivory white?). Perhaps the last signs of the original paint job which could mean this van once started as an ivory white red-cross bus. The pop-up roof looks quite unique and self-made. Must have been quite some work to get this accepted by the German TUEV (technical surveillance organization). On the inside it comes with a rock-and-roll bench/bed in the back and a self-made kitchen block behind the passenger seat. The 80 km/h sign on the rear window – I have gotten used to travelling with 80-90 km/h, too, with our 1976 bus. It is just a relaxed speed where you feel good about not stressing the old engine too much.

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Split-window camper

3 04 2018

And another split-window T1 kombi, this time a camper, photographed in October 2015. You don’t see splitties on the road much at all any more in Germany. So I was super happy when this one parked right in front of our day care in our suburb in Berlin when I dropped off the little one. Looks like this bus started as a closed panel van (upper air intakes in the rear) and was later rebuilt into a camper, including fold-up roof and five louvered windows in the rear. Based on the T2-like rear lid (introduced in 1964), this one should be from between 1964 and 1967. The fold-up roof could be from Dormobile, folding up along the side of the van and not at its front or back as the Westfalia roofs do. You can find another beautiful Dormobile kombi here and the hinges look indeed similar. It has also become rare to see such a splitty with all the scratches and dints of 50 years on the road and not yet fully restored. Nice!

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Costa Rica T1 Shorty     

1 04 2018

Hi to everyone out there! It has been a long time with no blog post. Family life with two small kids and work got the upper hand for most of last year. We are now proud parents of a school kid, and the little one is making her way through Kindergarden. Berlin had a bit of a no-real-winter-at-all. Mostly way too warm, then finally a week of minus -5-10°C, but still hardly any snow. Bit of a disappointment for the little ones. But a few days ago I received the photos below from my old friend Siegfried who is touring Costa Rica again , and they brightened up my day:  A T1 split window kombi, spotted in the small town of Sierpe. Seems to be in really beautiful condition, and looks very much like a standard European T1 to me, with slightly larger rearview mirrors, safari windows at the front and the double bumper bars that were more made for the US market. Except that someone has cut out about 50 cm of the van. The section missing is where the second of the two rear side doors would have been. The original model would have been built between 1964 (large T2-like rear door)and 1967 (start of the T2 bay windows) if it was from German production. Probably they were built longer in Mexico and Brazil, so this one could be from the seventies as well. Very nice: red-and-white T1 model on the center of the dash board. Hope you enjoy the photos!

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The 10th Berlin VW Bus Festival!

27 08 2017

Last Friday saw our little family packing up and travelling some 70 km out of Berlin to an old airfield near the small town of Juterbog, to the annual Berlin VW Bus Festival. This year was the 10th anniversairy, and times are changing: While this meeting was and has always been pretty much dominated by the T3/vanagons, this year there were astonishing numbers of T4, T5 and even T6 buses attending. On the other end of the range there were about two handfuls of bay window T2 buses and one single split window T1 campervan. All these air cooled beauties dutifully photographed by the slightly biased author of these lines. We arrived on Friday afternoon, in time to set up our bus tent while the sun was still shining. Friday evening was then pouring down with rain, but Saturday and Sunday were beautifully sunny and dry. The activities were the usual ones, a 1/8 mile race down one of the old runways (the fastest buses made it in 11-12 seconds, but a bicycle rider got an impromptu extra trophy for making it in 38 secs – faster than some of the slower buses); a driving skills course for the 4WD Syncro bus lovers (this year an obstical course on the runway as the sandpit was sadly closed, for environemental reasons); kombi picture painting sessions for the small ones with a big handing over ceremony of certificates and bags with presents for all the participants, lots of life music on stage on the two evenings and a show and shine competition on Saturday night. This year I took the plunge and for the first time took part and presented our bus Taiga Lily in all her beauty to the expert audience! We did not win, but it was lots of fun. The winner of the show was a perfect shiny T3 fitted with a 12-cylinder (W12) engine which Volkswagen usually sells in Bentleys and the Phaeton. Hard to win against such competition 🙂 Hope you will enjoy the pictures below!

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This beauty is a 1977 T2b bay window bus from Switzerland. Love the color, ocean blue!

A reoccuring theme were ex-army buses, which are auctioned off by the German Army when their time is up. In the past these have usually been T3s, this year the first T4s showed up:

Another theme were ex-german postal service high roof vans. They originally came in (West-)German Postal Yellow, as panel vans (no side windows in the rear)  and with permanent high roofs where the sliding door extended into the roof, to allow quick access to the packages in the back without having to bend down while entering. Today these buses are usually re-sprayed in other colors but you can often spot the original yellow on the inside.

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A mint green and a blue ex-German postal service camper.

And then there was this very special late bay window camper from 1979 (probably with the 1600 ccm 50 h.p. engine) which started its life with the Swiss Postal Service: The usual high roof panel van, also with the sliding door extending into the high roof, this time on a T2b base, but with right-hand steering in a country where cars usually come with left-hand steering. This set-up made it easier and safer for the post man to hop out of the car and empty the post box. Lots of nice original details on the dash board (1050 kg cargo capacity, original pull switch for the Webasto additional heater, reminder that the allowed maximum speed was 100 km/h).

There were a couple of buses that came with a QEK Junior, a caravan from East Germany which was developed to be light enough to be towed by a Trabant, the east German equivalent to the VW beetle. They were apparently produced in two versions were which weighed empty 360 and 400 kg, with a maximum weight of 400 and 500 kg, respectively. This is light enough even for our late bay window bus, so we keep thinking of adding one to our Taiga Lily when the kids get older.

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Also very cool: Volkswagen LT trucks, designwise to me always the big brothers of the T3s, built between 1975 and 1995, here rebuilt into camper vans with high roofs and as the 4×4 versions. Hadn’t noticed these at all in previous festivals, and here there were two of these giants. Pretty cool beasts!

Here is the only split window that made it to this show: A panel van from 1961, with doors in the back on both sides, which came up from South Germany. Wonder if this van was originally used by a fire brigade, with the red top, the red bumpers and the coat of arms on the driver’s door?

And a couple more beautiful bay window T2bs: A sage green (Taiga Gruen) bay window Westfalia camper in great condition:

This next bay window started its life as a red delivery van. Later, one of the previous owners welded in an original T2 window frame on the left side in the middle so that a louvered window could be installed:

And another sage green sage green Westfalia campervan beauty:

A few pictures from the 1/8 Mile race track and the Synco Trail:

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Doing the dishes with a few on the race track!

And a few pictures from the Syncro Trial and some more impressive T3 Syncro buses:

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And an impressive campervan conversion from the German manufacturer Bimobil:

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And finally, Taiga Lily’s 5 min of fame, with her and us on stage at the show and shine competition:

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Taiga Lily’s big moment!

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The winner of this year’s Show and Shine: T3 bus with a W12 engine.

 

 





Hire-a-Kombi on the Bellarine, Victoria

16 04 2017

Last weekend was a special treat for me as the kombi fan in the family. Our friends Jodi and Campbell rented a campervan from Hire-a-Kombi and we spent a camping weekend together on the Mornington peninsula. So last Saturday, we picked up the camper together. Hire-a-Kombi are located on the Bellarine highway (1830 Bellarine Hwy, Marcus Hill VIC 3222). On that day, three of their eight kombis were getting ready for pick-up: In addition to our campervan “Clancy”, an orange-and-white 1974 Westfalia camper, two eight-seater buses were ready for use as wedding limousines: Layla is a mustard-yellow T2ab hybrid from 1972. Harriett is a cream white T2b late bay window bus.

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Clancy, our 1974 Westfalia campervan

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Layla (mustard yellow) and Harriett (cream white), the two wedding limousines

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And there was another beautiful kombi that looked ready for action, an orange Sopru campervan (see this older post on another Sopru). The color could be Riverina Orange (Australian VW color code CLR722). She is not yet on the web site of Hire-a-Kombi, but perhaps about to join the fleet soon?

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The Sopru campervan

In addition to these ready-to-drive kombis, there was an amazing armada of old kombis and campervans, lined up along one side of the property. Some are future projects, some others may serve as spare part supplies. We had stumbled over this kombi parade already at the end of 2015, see this older blog post, but it was, again, an impressive sight. Great start into our “kombi weekend” – more to come soon!

 

 





Awesome Australian T1 Campervan

14 04 2017

Cool split-window bus spotted yesterday on the ferry from Sorrento to Queenscliff in Victoria, Australia. Minimalistic camper with pop-up roof and rock-and-roll bed/bench, but no furniture in the back. With the larger rear window and rear lid of the late T1 buses, this kombi is probably from between 1964 and 1967. Safari fold-up windows at the front and US-style double bumper bars as nice extras. Wonder if the double sliding window in the rear right is original, or if two smaller windows have been combined here? Makes this a 12-window instead of a 13-window bus. Cool sticker: “I did my bit, I saved a split”. Good on you!

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