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.

 

 





The Berlin VW Bus Festival 2016!

28 08 2016

We spent last weekend at this year’s Berlin VW Bus Festival, on an old airfield about 60 km south of Berlin. It was the first camping event for us this year, and also the first one as a family, with parents and now two children, in the small bus. We set up the big bus tent we bought last year and used it a bit as veranda, but mainly as a shed to put away all the kid’s related equipment. We had mixed weather with great sunshine and also some serious rain, but all doable when there is a dry tent and bus. Wonder-daughter enjoyed her very special bunk bed above the driver’s and passenger seats and discovered two routes to climb up to the roof rack – via the passenger door window and via the sliding door, using the Porta Potti box as base camp. Great to see her so happy and excited about the bus!

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With a one-year-old and a 4-year-old on board, we skipped the four-wheel-drive syncro trial on Saturday morning and instead took part in the kid’s program, bouncing castle and kombi painting. Turned into a whole-family event, with a beautiful hippie buy as our joint outcome:

Over the years the mix of buses at this meeting has slowly changed from almost exclusively T3 to now still mostly T3, but with large numbers of T4s and T5s thrown in the mix, while there was just a handful of late bay window buses and only one T1. So my slightly biased selection of fotos below shows basically all the air-cooled buses that attended.

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On the T3 end, again very many of the four-wheel-drive syncro buses, and many of them trimmed for serious all-terrain action. Here is a truely awesome one, from a visitor from the Netherlands:

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The Czeck Syncro club came with around 9 of these monsters. Very cool!

And there was something I haven’t seen before: A T4 syncro with a seroius all terrain attitude – cool!

We had a great weekend – thanks to the crew from the Berlin Kombi club for organizing such a great meeting! See you again next year!

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The 6th Berlin Bus Festival

29 07 2013

We have just returned from the 2013 Berlin Bus Festival. Two and a half very nice and very hot days of camping and admiring buses. And the first nights in the bus with our almost two-year-old baby daughter sleeping in the new bunk bed in the front. Which actually worked out very well. With the baby we took it all easy and did not take part in any of the different competitions. Focus was more on finding and petting dogs (her main interest, and there were many dogs) and checking out buses (my main interest). I noticed many more bus-trailer combinations this time – either with classic trailers re-sprayed to match the bus, or with the trailer made from a second copy of the same type of bus. And then there were syncros, the four wheel drive version of the T25/T3. A lot of them, and they can be quite impressive monsters. Finally, there were a lot more T2s than at the previous meetings. It is still a T3/T25 dominated event, but nice to see the T2 numbers going up. Hope you enjoy the fotos!
PS: And there are some more photos in this Flickr album.

Our bus Taiga Lily, a 1976 Later Bay microbus.

Our bus, Taiga Lily, a 1976 Late Bay microbus.

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Early splittie from 1959, used as promo van for an internet travel portal.

Early splittie from 1959, used as promo van for an internet travel portal.

Red and white T3/T25 double cabin with Audi V8 engine.

Red and white T3/T25 double cabin with Audi V8 engine.

T3 Blue Star Hanover edition, bus of my best mate Jan, ready for a two week camping trip to Northern Italy.

T3 Blue Star Hanover edition, bus of my best mate Jan, ready for a two week camping trip to Northern Italy.

Early T1 Samba bus with hearse trailer, turned into an extra bed room.

Early T1 Samba bus with hearse trailer, turned into an extra bed room.

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Late bay with Eriba Puk trailer.

Late bay with Eriba Puk trailer.

Late bay with larger Eriba trailer.

Late bay with larger Eriba trailer.

T3/T25 microbus with matching T3-derived trailer.

T3/T25 microbus with matching T3-derived trailer.

T5 bus with T5-derived trailer.

T5 bus with T5-derived trailer.

T3/T25 syncro four-wheel-drive bus from the Czech Republic.

T3/T25 syncro four-wheel-drive bus from the Czech Republic.

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The "Colorless Crossporter", a T4 Syncro bus.

The “Colorless Crossporter”, a T4 Syncro bus.

A T5 four wheel drive  campervan from Seikel 4x4 Technik, check out http://www.seikel.de/en/home/ for more background. A T5 four-wheel-drive campervan from Seikel 4×4 Technik, for more background check out http://www.seikel.de/en/home/ .[/caption]

Evening impression

Evening impression

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A Quite Unique Coffee Van

5 08 2012

One of the things to look forward to at the Berlin VW Bus Festival is a good latte macchiato at LeCabu’s coffee bar. Which, true to the occasion, comes in the form of a Volkswagen van, and probably one of a kind: Originally built for a private canteen provider serving the German Army, she was designed to accompany the troops during their yearly maneuvers in the field. The basis was therefore a 1990 four-wheel drive single cabin T3 Syncro. I am not very good with T3s and Syncros, but apparently the Syncros came in two varieties, the more common 14-inch version (41,330 buses produced) and the much rarer 16-inch heavy duty Syncro version for more serious off-road requirements (only about 2138 buses built). And this one is one of the 16-inch buses, so the real thing for the hard core Syncro fan. The current owner bought her some years ago under the promise that he would keep the original food van conversion alive, and that’s what he did. She got this funky looking retro surfer paint job and is now a rolling coffee bar, based in Düsseldorf, but you can meet her on VW meetings all over Germany. The photos are from last weekend’s 5th Berlin VW Bus Festival.





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!





Coming Soon: The Berlin VW Bus Festival 2012!

3 07 2012

The 5. Berlin VW Bus Festival is approaching quickly. It is organised by the Berlin Kombi Club (Berliner Bulli Stammtisch) and attracts more buses each year – last year around 400! It will all happen on July 27-29 in Jueterbog, about 70 km south of Berlin, on the old airfield of a former Russian Army Base. It’s basically a T3/T25 bus meeting, but there is the occasional bay window (like us!) and split-window bus as well. Pretty cool events going on, like the syncro trial where four-wheel-drive T3s are driven through an obstacle course up and down through a sand pit, with points for speed and skill, and racing of (pimped) buses and beetles in a 1/8 mile race on the old air strip. There is also a family area (less loud in the evenings and nights) and a program for the kids. This year the plan is to build the image of the front mask of a T3 bus with 513 buses. And it all ends with a show and shine evening and a big party. So if you are around for the weekend of July 27-29, have a look yourself! Below are some snapshots from the 2009 Berlin Bus Festival which we attended with our old bus, the Old Lady.

Leon Dogwonder and the Old Lady at the 2009 VW Bus festival.

T3s in the evening sun.

Getting ready for the orienteering race.

A T3 Syncro four-wheel-drive digging in a sand pit, at the Syncro competition.

Waiting for the start at the 1/8 mile race.

A 21-window Samba

A freshly restored T2a campervan.

T2b Westfalia Campervan

Syncro DoKa (Double Cabin)

T3s at sunset.