The Berlin VW Bus Festival 2019

14 10 2019

In mid-August we rigged-up Taiga Lily, our 1976 Volkswagen bay window camper, with the bike rack in the back, an extended roofrack on top, and Henrietta, our 1981 QEK Junior mini camper on the tow bar, and started the 70-km-ride to Jueterbog, south of Berlin, to the Berlin VW Festival 2019. Henrietta has now been upgraded with a nice little awning and we bought a foldable outside kitchen block.



Next morning, we joined a convoy of 31 buses and a beetle through the nearby villages. Pretty exciting to ride with so many buses, with six motor bike guards driving in front and behind us to block all crossings, so that we could pass through in one group. All completed with a final group photo, back at the festival side, in front of one of the big old hangars of this ex-German and ex-Russian military airport site.



Notice the prominent position our Taiga Lily who was kindly manouvered into the front row. As always, there were loads and loads of T3 and T4 buses at this meeing. But with my excitement for the aircooled earlier generations, I will start with a completely biased selection of almost all of the T1 split window busses and T2 bay window busses that were also around. So here they come!


T1 split window single cab

The T1 Samba Bus below, from between 1964 and 1967 later on became the winner of this years show and shine competition!

Here comes a 1978 late bay Westaflia camper in Taiga Lily’s sage green (Taiga grün L63H):


Here comes a beautiful 1975 late bay camper which is, for once, not a Westfalia:

And an impressive semi-rat look 1970 early bay window (T2a) Westfalia camper, at some point re-imported from the US, with the weathered original paint job conserved with a layer of Owatrol:



On we move to the T3 vanagon buses of the 1980s and early 1990s. As a start a cool family group shot: On the right a 1978 air-cooled T2b, in the middle a 1980 T3 pick up truck which is also still air-cooled (in German: a “Lufti”), and on the right a later and water-cooled T3 syncro all-wheel drive camper:


And some photos of the many T3 campervans and the many impressive four-wheel-drive T3 Syncro buses:







Again a very nice summer weekend. And like last year, the goodies-bag for every participant contained this very cool VW bus biscuits pack – the organizers apparently had asked the cookies company Leibniz and they kindly produced another batch of these bisquits explicitely for this bus gathering – how very cool is this!

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!



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!



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!



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!


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.


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:


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!


Amazing 1955 Splittie for Sale

20 08 2016

Very cool 1955 T1 split window bus for sale in the German Facebook group “VW Busfahrer T1 bis T6“. Thought I knew the photo. Turns out it is one of mine, from this older blog post. I had seen this brilliant bus 10 years ago at the 60-Years-Of-VW-Bus Festival in Hannover. If you are willing to part from > 30.000 British Pounds, this amazing bus could be yours! Below the original photo in all its beauty.




1954 Barn Door Kombi

18 01 2016

I found this awesome split-window kombi in April 2014 in Geelong. I had knocked on the door of a shed to ask if I could take a few photos of an old rusty late bay in the backyard. Turned out this was the workshop of a panel beater who loves kombis and has restored quite a few over the years. On that day the hall housed two splitties and a late bay in various stages of restoration. This blue-and-white T1 was about to be completed. It is a VW bus kombi from 1954, so one of the very first kombis ever built, and I was told there may be only a handful of these early ones with right-wheel-steering left in Australia. A lot of panels were rusted trough and had to be made from scratch. All welding was done with the ambition that even an expert from Volkswagen should not be able to recognize which parts were original and which had been replaced later.

The split-window bus or Volkswagen T1 was built in Germany from 1950 till 1967. Over the years, the rear doors of the T1s changed most strongly: the very first models came with a very large door for the engine bay (“big as a barn door”). The photo below shows that the large engine bay also housed the petrol tank (on the left) and the spare wheel (on a shelf above the engine). Over the years the engine bay and its lid became smaller and smaller and a door above was introduced as access to the cargo area. This upper door also changed in size over the various facelifts. The latest splitties (1964 onwards) already feature the same large rear doors which from 1967 onwards were then also used in the T2s or bay window buses.



The paint job was carried out with normal glossy paint on the inside, but with matt finish on the outside, to avoid the shiny and polished finish of a fully restored van. With a bit of wear and tear this bus will quickly develop some patina. It also comes a bit lowered and with Porsche Fuchs wheels – tribute to modern coolness.





5 04 2015

We had a couple of beautiful sunny spring days here in Berlin in the last three weeks, so the buses slowly get out of their winters sleep. My kombi mate Jan started with his beautifully restored 1991 T3/T25 Blue Star three weeks ago. A friend got his 1963 T1 Westfalia campervan out on the same day, and last weekend I opened the garage for Taiga Lily to come out and play. Very happy the engine started right away, all seems to be fine. Used the day to upholster and install a new driver’s seat, more on that soon. Welcome kombi season 2015!





New Zealand Splittie Campervan, re-visited!

31 01 2015

A friend just returned from a four-week-trip to New Zealand and sent me photos of this beautiful T1 split window campervan. He spotted it this January 2015 in Kerikeri on the North Island. Turns out I had spotted the very same bus in Feb 2012 during our parental leave in New Zealand as well – small world! Here is a link to the older post with some more information on this bus and also more photos. Just re-traced that this bus is one of the kombis you can rent from Kiwi Kombis. Some more detail on their web page: It is called Van Five aka ‘Coffee ‘n’ Cream’ and it is a 1962 Custom Westfalia with the 1.6Litre motor. Nice to see it is still up and going! Many thanks to Gernot for the photos!



The Berlin VW Bus Festival 2014!

23 08 2014

Last weekend Leon Dogwonder and I made it to the 2014 Berlin VW Bus Festival on an old airfield in Jueterbog, south of Berlin. Relaxed camping weekend in the bus, luckily less hot than last year, with lots of buses to check out and nice people to meet. In total about 450 buses, with the occasional late bay window between lots and lots of T3/T25s. The usual program, with people racing their buses and other vehicles on the old air field (1/8 mile), with a sand pit playground for the 4WD Syncro buses to test what they can handle, a show and shine competition and kiddie’s program. Great Weekend – hope you will enjoy the photos! Greetings to Jan, Kerstin, Flo, Heiko und Meike!

This samba  won "best van of the festival"

This samba won “best van of the festival”

1974 ex-Red Cross ambulance microbus turned campervan

1974 ex-Red Cross ambulance microbus turned campervan





Another ex-ambulance van, this one from 1976

Another ex-ambulance van, this one from 1976

Nice and clean T3/T25 bus...

Nice and clean T3/T25 bus…

... and its VR6 Volkswagen 6-cylinder engine.

… and its VR6 Volkswagen 6-cylinder engine.

"Can't go fast - but everywhere"

“Can’t go fast – but everywhere”


Spectators at the start of the Syncro Trial...

Spectators at the start of the Syncro Trial…

... and a syncro coming to the rescue of another one, stuck in the sand.

… and a syncro coming to the rescue of another one, stuck in the sand.



About to present the results of an afternoon of hard crafting...

About to present the results of an afternoon of hard crafting…

And some of their beautiful products!

And some of their beautiful products!

Start of the 1/8 mile race, T3 vanagon against a Ford Mustang.

At the start line of the 1/8 mile race, T3 vanagon against a Ford Mustang.

My friend's 1992 T3 Bluestar, Leon Dogwonder and Taiga Lily

My friend’s 1992 T3 Bluestar, Leon Dogwonder and Taiga Lily

Leon guarding our Taiga Lily.

Leon guarding our Taiga Lily.

Leon allowed on the bed - a very special weekend.

Allowed on the bed – a very special weekend.