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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Surf Coast Wedding Bus

17 11 2015

We went down to the coastal town of Lorne to catch up with friends and spend an early summer day on the beach. Lorne is a small town at the beginning of the Great Ocean Road, about 70 km south of Geelong. And look what a beautiful bus we saw on the highway: A bay window T2a/b hybrid kombi, set up as a wedding limousine! From the sticker in the rear window, it belongs to Coastal Kombi Weddings, so you can hire this beauty for the purpose. Following their web site, its name is Dormy, and the fold-up roof would fit to an earlier life as Dormobile campervan. Dormobile is a campervan conversion company in the UK which still exists and is known for their sideways opening fold-up roofs. The beige and white paint job looks perfect for weddings, bright, elegant and friendly. The interior also comes in bright colors (gray or beige) with two benches in the back facing each other. Fantastic for the job. What a beautiful idea to earn a living with a kombi!

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Great Ocean Road going into Lorne.

Great Ocean Road going into Lorne.

Beach and pier in Lorne.

Beach and pier in Lorne.





The 5th Berlin VW Bus Festival

1 08 2012

Last Friday the whole family hopped on the bus and we spent an exciting weekend at the 5. Berlin Bus Festival. Lots of great buses to look at and friendly people to meet, great weather on Friday and most of Saturday, unfortunately some heavy rain late Saturday night and some drizzle on Sunday morning. Our baby-daughter very much enjoyed the camping, so many new things to touch and taste, so many people to smile at. On the minus side, the first night in the campervan was quite stressful for her and therefore for us as well. My preliminary campervan conversion was lacking an easy-to-use baby bed. As a last minute solution we put the toilette box into the annex so that we could place a baby travel cot behind the driver and passenger seats. Good for her, but this made maneuvering in the bus for us in the middle of the night really, really complicated. She was much better in the second night so she probably also just needed some time to get used to the new environment.

Happy bus driver with baby-daughter and Leon Dogwonder.

Buses in the evening sun.

The venue was again the former airport “Altes Lager” in Jueterbog, about 80 km south of Berlin. It was originally built in World War I as a Zepellin airport, then had to be deconstructed when the war was lost. In 1933 it was rebuild and re-opened as Nazi German military airfield which after World War II and until 1994 served as a Russian Air Force base. It’s now a venue for open air events of all kinds, a starting strip for paragliders and home to a permanent go-kart race track. Interestingly, even today, almost 22 years after the German re-unification and 18 years after the Russian Army left East Germany, the derelict Russian Army barracks are still standing, along the road leading to the Festival area, and there is still a Red Star above the main entrance gate.
On Saturday we took part in the orientation drive, a car rally of about 30 buses through five or six villages where in each village you had to answers questions on local details. And we made the first place! So we came home with a little trophy…

Getting ready for the orientation rally.

Taiga Lily with Trophy!

This festival is quite T3/T25-focused – there were an estimated 450 T3s, probably also fifty T4s, about ten T2s and two T1s. So my little selection of photos below is not quite representative, but here we go: The red and white bus is a 1966 original Westfalia campervan, interestingly with a Dormobile fold-up roof which, according to the owner, was fitted by Westfalia at the time. The owner bought her 33 years ago, when the first owner had given up on the rust, and brought her back into this beautiful condition. Below is a 1967 split-window that came down all the way from Norway, and a beautiful T2a, recently re-imported from the Netherlands and now based in the Greater Berlin area.

Below are some photos of the most seriously all-terrain-looking T3 Syncro I have seen so far. Impressive, and apparently built for an expedition through Africa. Check out the height of the snorkel in the back! The driver would already be half a meter under water when the engine could still breath… Could not find out any more details because the owner came from the Czech Republic and my Czech and his German or English were not up to the task. But what a monster…

Then there was also Luise, the stretched T3 that was the star of last year’s Berlin Bus Festival. Luise was built from three T3 buses, is 8.5 m long and is powered by a VW V6 TDI motor. This year they also brought Liesel, Luise’s little sister which was welded together from the body parts left over when Luise was constructed. And this year Liesel was hand-painted by the kids at the festival.

And of course there were lots and lots of modified and pimped up T3s and T4s. Here are just two examples.

The best is still to come: On Saturday afternoon about 400 buses were arranged next to each other in such a way that from the air it should result in the sketch of the front of a T3/T25 Volkswagen bus. Taiga Lily will be part of the left front indicator (we believe). I have not seen the final photo yet, but will post it as soon as it is available. All in all again a great festival, just outside of Berlin. Thanks to the guys from the Berlin Kombi Club (Bullistammtisch.de) for the excellent organisation!





“Best Van” goes to Scotland!

30 07 2012

A first post from the 5. Berlin VW Bus Festival which ended yesterday. For the second time in five years a T2 has won the show and shine competition. The price went to Gavin from Inverness, Scotland, and to Bucket, his 1973 T2b which he had rescued over the last three years from almost certain death by rust. The bus now comes in matt black with a purple roof and dashboard, the front indicators have been moved and replaced by small round ones from a Landrover, the backlights by larger round ones (not sure from which type of car). The air vents at the front now show the name of the van and two scottish flags, cut out of polished stainless steel and back-lit in white and blue. The clocks in the dashboard come from a Mini. There are nicely finished buttons for the horn and to start the engine. And the bus comes on Porsche Fuchs wheels. Gavin fitted a Dormobile fold-up roof with a dark blue tarp which shows the scottish flag on the side when folded up. The original engine was replaced by a Subaru flat four boxer engine, mainly for improved fuel economy. Gavin was beaten in the bus-with-longest-way-to-the-festival competition by one of his mates from Inverness who happened to live half a mile further away from Berlin. Great that he then made it for the best bus instead! It probably also helped that he came on the stage wearing a kilt – Germans generally have a soft spot for Scotland and for men in kilts…

Gavin and Bucket on stage at the show and shine competition.






T1 Dormobile Campervan

5 02 2012

Here is a T1 Campervan we spotted some days ago at a caravan park at Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel peninsula, on New Zealand’a North Island. A 1966 camper conversion, probably from Dormobile as the pop up roof hinges to the side of the car. Each car in New Zealand has an official registration sticker on the windscreen which shows year and model. This here is listed as “1966 Volkswagen Caravanette”. Interestingly, from 1964 on, split-window/T1 buses and bay window/T2 buses are meant to have the same back lid. Looks at least similar on the photo below.

Updated, 17.02.2012: Turns out this kombi is also from Classic Campers. It is their flag ship, Van 1. What a great bus!

Our T2b campervan and the splittie side by side.