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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1969 US Westfalia Camper with an East German History

30 08 2016

 

Here is another beautiful van from the Berlin Bus Festival 2016. It is an early bay window (or T2a) Westfalia campervan from 1969. I learnt a bit about its history when I had a chat with the owner, a friendly elderly gentleman. The bus was originally built for the US market and also exported to the US. From the paper work he found in the bus, he thinks it was brought to Germany in 1972 by a student from the US who used it to tour Europe. It probably broke down in East Germany – I guess not necessarily a standard tourist destination for an American tourist in the seventies, as you had to apply for visas etc. to get behind the iron curtain. The bus then stayed in East Germany, changed hands three times in the seventies or early 80ies until in 1982 the current owner bought it in East Berlin. He said it was quite run down at that time and needed a lot of repair, which was hard work, with very limited access to spare parts from West Germany. Seven years later the wall came down, and another 27 years later he still owns the bus and proudly keeps it running. What an amazing history!

A couple of interesting details: A sticker in the driver’s door indicates the bus was once maintained by Herb’s Garage in Newark, Delaware, southwest of Philadelphia. The label on the electricity inlet is in English (and expects 110 V instead of 240V) and the speedometer is in MPH instead of km/h, but interestingly the reminder on the steering wheel attachment, below the speedo, is in German (“Fahren nur mit verriegelter Schiebetür” / “Drive only when sliding door is locked”). The original middlewave/MW radio is still in its place in the dashboard. A more useful FM radio is installed below the dashboard. Stick-on headrest for the driver – I actually remember those from a Lada when we were visiting friends in East Germany in the 1980ies! The back indicators looked unusual. Turns out they are made in GDR (label “DDR Ruhla”) and in fact are the front indicators of a late model Trabant, the prototypical East German car. The additional rear fog and reverse lights may also be of East German origin, then.

 

 





Kombi and a Grand Design

8 09 2015

Best of both worlds: Cool house building project and an Early Bay Window VW bus popping up in the middle of this Grand Designs episode (Season 14 Episode 5 London). Over the last couple of years we have fallen deeply in love with Kevin McCloud and his Grand Designs. Cool artist couple in this episode with a good taste in cars: Nice surprise to see their early bay window around minute 28 (and another late bay popping up in the backround). Louvered window on one side and perhaps some campervan conversion/bed construction going on in the back where the doggy travels behind the driver. Walk way to the back looks a lot like Taiga Lily’s, with air out lets on both sides of the walls behind the front seats, but a handle only on the sliding door side. Passenger seat not original but safer (with a head rest), driver seat more original but without.

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Awesome 1969 Early Bay Westfalia Camper

21 03 2015

Spotted this truly beautiful Early Bay Camper at last year’s Berlin Bus Festival. It is from 1969. The Westfalia badge quotes the “Year of Manufacturer” as 1970 which will then be the year of conversion. The color is probably light grey (I345). The van lived most of its life in California and was re-imported and then restored in Germany only recently. Speedo with “MPH” instead of “Km/h” and “Emergency” on the hazard light pull switch and yellow and red reflectors on the sides of the van as details for the US-American market. Beautiful original wooden campervan interior. Interesting exhaust pipe construction to funnel the exhaust fumes of the gas fridge out through the ceiling. 1600 ccm B5 engine with 47 horse power. Looks a bit unusual that the spare tire is in the rear and reduces the bed space. Would have expected it to be at the front of the car. But hey, might be original as well.
The bus is now the pride of a fleet of about 3 kombis of “Old Berlin Bulli”, a new VW bus rental company in Berlin. They offer kombis with chauffeur service for city tours, weddings and film sets. Some more technical details on this campervan (“Mr. Alvah”) here on their web site. The slightly bumpy company name probably stems from Volkswagen’s strategy to come after you if you use “Bulli” in your company name. In Germany “Bulli” is the well-known and very positive nick name for the VW kombi. Volkswagen purchased the rights to this name only in 2007 and since then enforces that only VW is allowed to use it. As I understand, you have to add something like “Old” or “Classic” to your Bulli-related company name to get the official approval of VW. This seems what these guys have done as there is a little “Officially licensed by Volkswagen” note on the footer of all their web sites. Anyway, nice to see some kombi/bulli lovers have found a way to make a living of the kombi. And cool that they keep this beautiful bus in good shape and on the road!

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More Flea Market Findings!

28 11 2014

Look what I bought myself! Found these three little buses a while ago on a flea market in Berlin. The blue one is an early bay window Dormobile Volkwagen camper from Matchbox (Series 23, © 1970, Made in England) with an English number plate. I guess there may once have been some kind of canvass attached to the fold up roof. The late bay window police bus says it is a Majorette No. 214 (“Fourgon VW, Made in France”, scale 1:60). Fourgon seems to be French for panel van. The other late bay window from the German Red Cross in Nuremberg is from Schuco (Made in Germany, scale 1:66, Model 817010) and proudly announces 60 PS and a top speed of 125 km/h. Love the scratches and how they turn out in these close-up photos. Original patina from decades of hard playing!

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1971 Geelong Double Cab

21 10 2014

Here comes an early bay flat bed truck, spotted in April 2014 in Geelong, Australia. The registration sticker calls it a “Volkswagen double cabin ute” – ute being a very ‘stralian term for a very ‘stralian invention: The front of a normal sedan car (usually a big Ford or Holdon) fused to the cargo bay of a pick-up truck. The point being, you can take the wife to church in her Sunday best and still get the sheap to the market on a Saturday. Will add a photo of a contemporary ute below for those who have never seen one before. This old lady here has certainly seen better times. ”Rat look” springs to mind, and I have started to like the idea of not over-restoring old cars.  “Rat look is the poor man’s restoration” was a comment by a Geelong panel beater, and I can see his point as well. But at least someone has taken up the battle against rust, and cars probably die slower in the hot Australian climate than in Germany.

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Holdon Commodore Ute

Holdon Commodore Ute

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Kombis in the Movies: Rush

30 06 2014

I stumbled over this movie on the flight back from Australia in May: „Rush“ is about the rivalry between the Formula One drivers Niki Lauda and James Hunt in the early and mid-seventies, culminating in Niki Lauda’s gruesome accident at the Nürburgring in 1976, and his come back after that. Most of my life I knew Niki Lauda only from his post-F1 times, as founder of an airline and pilot himself, and later as a F1 commentator. In that year of 1976, I proudly started primary school in August, and our bus Taiga Lily was born in May. The movie is actually pretty exciting, and the mini appearance of an early bay ambulance towards the end also made the kombi spotter happy. Looks like they got this detail quite right – the bus looks a lot like the real Red Cross kombi I saw last year in Berlin. The last of its kind, still in use at the Berlin Red Cross.

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