Sunliners of Melbourne

6 04 2017

I stumbled about this beauty yesterday during a visit to Melbourne: A T2b late bay window Volkswagen campervan, probably from between 1976 and 1979 (see the engine lid hinges), in what could be Neptune blue (L50K). The campervan conversion is from Sunliner, a company based in Melbourne and still active, but nowadays converting various non-Volkswagen buses. Here is a link to a beautifully restored Sunliner late bay camper we spotted in 2015 in Geelong. This bus here comes with roo bars in the front and rear, spare wheel on the front, a pop-up roof in the rear with a luggage section above the driver’s cabin, and nice wooden furniture, with the kitchen block with gas cooker and fridge behind the passenger seat and a compartment for the gas bottle behind the driver’s seat. Funky 1970ies white and blue stripe design on both sides.

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This van seems to be parking in this spot and in the harsh Australian sun for a while already. The lining of the driver’s door is peeling off from the heat, the plastic glasses of the front indicators have gone blind, and there is extensive rust on the roof. Usually you will never see this type of surface rust on campervans in Germany. With the long German winters with salt on the roads, the buses have rotten away from rust in the wheel houses, the sillboards and the complete underfloor, years before any rust on the roof can develop. The wheel houses on this one, however, are in an amazingly good condition. It is a bit of a sleeping beauty and will need some work to fix all the little problems and conserve it for the future. But great to see it has survived so long, in probably pretty much original condition!

Jumping two decades forward in time, another Sunliner parked just around the corner. This one a campervan based on a Mazda E2000 van, probably from the mid- to late-1990ies. It also comes with a roo bar with spare wheel on the front and a small bar in the rear. Here the gas cooker and fridge are placed behind the driver’s seat while the sink and a microwave are behind the passenger seat. Fiamma awning on the left side, solar panels on the roof. And the long wheel base allows for a large bed in the rear that turns into two opposing benches and a central table. Not the coolness factor of a Volkswagen kombi, but also a very nice campervan.

 





The Karmann Gipsy

17 03 2015

Here is a campervan one sees relatively rarely on the road in Germany: The Karmann Gipsy, a T3/T25-based campervan conversion, built by the German car manufacturer Karmann. The Gipsy actually has its own world-wide fan club, the Karmann Coachbuilts Club, with lots of details e.g. on interior layouts and the chassis construction. And there is this brief summary on Wikipedia on the Karmann Coachbuilts. They come with more space than the normal Volkswagen microbus- or panelvan-based conversions and feature e.g. a shower and room to sleep for up to 4 people, two in the back and two more in the front, above the driver’s cabin. Learnt on the club site that only 741 of these conversions have ever been built. 214 are registered with the club as surviving, 5 as destroyed. If you own a Gipsy and are not yet in contact with this club, you would make the guys very happy by registering your vehicle! Karmann was established in 1901 in the German town Osnabrück and for more than 100 years manufactured cars for other larger car makers, such as the Beetle convertible and the beetle-based Karmann Ghia for Volkswagen or the Mercedes CLK and Chrysler Crossfire for at the time DaimlerChrysler. In 2009 the company went bankrupt and the factory in Osnabrueck was purchased by Volkswagen. VW currently manufactures the Golf VI convertible and the Porsche Caymann and Boxster on this production site (information taken from this newspaper site on the latest news on (Ex-)Karmann Osnabrueck). Greetings to Georg, proud owner of one of these unusual campervans!

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1970s Fiat Camper

23 11 2014

I was visiting Vienna two weeks ago and stumbled over this beauty: Looks like the Fiat-alternative to the Volkswagen bus from the seventies, with a self-made campervan conversion in the back. It’s a Fiat 238, which was produced between 1967 and 1983, so indeed overlapped with the bay window Volkswagen T2 (produced in Germany from 1967 to 1979). Apparently the Fiat 238 was the direct predecessor of the Fiat Ducato, the base for most of the larger campervans / motorhomes sold in Europe today. The batch on the front of this particular example specifies it as a “Steyr Fiat, Lizenz Fiat”. Now this is interesting. I so far knew of the Austrian car maker Steyr-Daimler-Puch as the producer of the Mercedes G class and the the four-wheel-drive Fiat Panda. And there even is a direct link from Steyr-Daimler-Puch to the Volkswagen bus: The 4-wheel-drive version of the third generation VW bus, the T3 Syncro, was manufactured from 1985 through 1992, with the four-wheel drive system added by Steyr-Daimler-Puch Works in Graz, Austria. Following the Steyer-Daimler-Puch Wikipedia page, they also have a long tradition of building other Fiat models in license. Seems that this Fiat 238 here is also one of those Austrian Fiat models. Great to see this bus in such good condition and still in use as a campervan!

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Not sure about the brush strokes: Art, or theft protection?

Not sure about the brush strokes: Art, or theft protection?

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Rock and Roll Bed, Part 7: All Done!

9 09 2014

Just a year after the bench cushions, I finally made the cover for the mattress above the engine bay. Got it now done because DrJ gave me a weekend-course on her sewing machine as this year’s birthday present (many thanks, my love!). The long zipper that runs around one-and-a-half sides of the final piece made it all a bit more complicated than I had expected. Same beautiful plaid material from bus-ok.de as used for the bench. I gave up on getting the pattern of this last piece aligned with the pattern of the two bench mattress pieces. But I am still very happy with the final product. So that’s it, rock and roll bench/bed, finally done and dusted!

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Rock and Roll Bed, Part 6: Bench Cushions

7 09 2014

I finally find time to complete the story of building the rock and roll bed in the back of our kombi: The bench-bed-combination was already built in summer 2012 (complete thread here). Already a year ago, in July 2013, I made the bench and backrest covers: I bought this beautiful plaided material from bus-ok.de (part number OK60072). It comes in two different color combinations, one of them this yellow-and-green one that is pretty close to what Westfalia would have used in sage green VW buses like Taiga Lily. It is a reproduction, but very thick and stable material. Useless as curtain material which I had hoped to use it for as well, but looks very durable as bench seat cover. I measured carefully the dimensions of the different mattress pieces in an original late bay Westfalia camper (many thanks to Reini for letting me check out your camper!). The 8cm-thick-foam pieces were purchased from Weissbach in Berlin – not cheap, but we could test-sit and -lie on them, they cut them on the spot to my measurements, and they also had the zipper and the sewing machine thread for the covers. With help from DrJ I got the sewing machine running to sew the seams in the corners. Finally I tuckered the new covers onto the wooden bench and backrest. Particularly proud of how well the lines in the pattern on the seat and on the backrest cover – have a look at the photos!

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My very first steps with a sewing machine - exciting!

My very first steps with a sewing machine – exciting!

Also added two fold-out feet from Reimo under the seat board for extra stability, see the fotos at the very end. No time at that moment to sew the cover for the mattress piece above the engine bay. I just cut that piece to adjust it to the asymmetric rear side walls and covered it, for the time being, with an old duvet cover. The time being lasted another year – more in the next post.

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1973 Geelong Early Bay Camper

28 06 2014

I saw this beauty at the National VW Bug-In at Geelong this April. It was delivered as a new car to Geelong in 1973 and is still in the hands of the first owner. How cool is that? The complete history of the car in one hand – no previous owner to blame if something is somewhat wrong. Not that anything is wrong with this car. The owner had it restored recently and it now beams as if it has just come from the production line. Perfect in every detail. Minimalistic campervan conversion with bed-bench-combination (very neatly re-upholstered) and a kitchen block with sink and fridge behind the driver’s cabin. Interesting installation of the 220V-inlet, hidden on the left side within the engine bay, avoids cutting any extra holes into the body of the car. Super-clean engine bay and engine itself (AP motor). Dashboard with a series of additional instruments below the radio. Some kind of non-original exhaust system. The color could be Sierra Yellow (L11H). The bus is actually an early bay/late bay (T2a/T2b) hybrid, with the front mask and the bumper bars still from the early bays and the rear air intakes and rear lights already from the late bay window version. I understood these models came from the transition period around 1971-1972. But that would probably also fit with delivery of this car to Australia in 1973. What a wonderful bus!

Added July 1st, 2014: I wasn’t at all aware of this, but VW buses of Australia actually feature some original colors which have never been used by Volkswagen in Germany or Europe. You can find a list of a these colors and their paint codes at this page of the Australian Club VeeDuv. Bottomline is that the color of this bus is not Sierra Yellow but probably Mustard (Dulux colour code 13974). Thanks to Greg for pointing this out in the comment below!

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1977 Australian Sopru Campervan

27 04 2014

Here comes a VW campervan conversion I haven’t seen before: Spotted at last weekend’s National VW Club Bug-In in Geelong, Australia, this one is from a company called Sopru from Adelaide in South Australia. The owner told me they still existed and that at the time they were one of the campervan converters officially approved by Volkswagen. This one comes with the less usual automatic gear box and the 2L CJ engine. The pop-up roof looks like a Devon conversion, but differs in detail. Kitchen set-up with fridge and cooker behind the passenger seat, similar to the Westfalia Helsinki set-up (here is a web site with more photos of the interior of a similar 1972 Sopru conversion). Aussie roo bar with spare wheel at the front, and a rain water drain tube attached to the roof rack, as practical solution for tent poles etc. Cool “VW Campmobile” label at the rear lid, and 1970ies color strip along the sides, probably both from the original Sopru conversion. What a great campervan!

PS: Thanks to Earth Jive for setting me on the right track with Sopru, not Sapru! Had that wrong in the first version of this post.

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