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.

Image_1

 





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.

 

 





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!

Image_3

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.

Image_1

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:

Image_3Image_4

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!

Image_5





Phillip Island Surf Shop Kombi

26 11 2015

Eye catcher for a surf shop in the first little township on Phillip Island, southeast of Melbourne: Chopped off driver’s cabin of an Early Bay Window panel van. Steering wheel and instrument block still in place, front seats replaced by a wooden bench so that kids (and grown-ups) can play driving a kombi. Sweet!

Image_1

 

 

Image_2





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.

Image2

Image3

Image1





Brazilian T2c Campervan spotted in Ireland

30 05 2015

Here comes a Bay Window Volkswagen campervan spotted a few days ago by friends in the south of Ireland. It is one of the kombis produced in Brazil where production ended only at the end of 2013. Over the decades, Volkswagen Do Brasil produced late bay window buses which, from a European point of view, often looked like hybrids of the different generations of German Volkswagen buses. i.e. the rear of a late T1 split-window mixed with front of a T2 bay window bus, or late bay window buses (T2b, 1972 – 1979) mixed with elements of early bays (T2a, 1967-1972). Plus additional design changes unique to the Brazilian buses. This one here is a late (post 2005) Brazilian model (T2c) which comes already with a water-cooled engine, hence the very large radiator at the front of the car. The front indicators have already moved upwards as with late bay models, but the bumper bars are still round, similar to the early bays. Unique Brazilian features are the elevated roof line (raising above the driver’s cabin and then providing more head room in the back – here slightly masked by the installed pop-up roof in the back) and the lines at the lower edges of the front doors. I have never seen any of the Brazilian T2c buses on the road in Germany, but they are much more common in the UK where they could (and apparently still can) be ordered as new cars from Danbury Motor Caravans who also converted them into campervans. See also this older blog post.

Brazilian T2c bay window camper.

Brazilian T2c bay window camper.

Image_1

For comparison I have added some photos of Taiga Lily, our 1976 late bay bus and two photos of Early Bay Window buses (from Berlin and Geelong). Many thanks to kombi correspondent Bill for the snapshots from Ireland!

Taiga Lily, our late bay window bus (T2b) from 1976.

Taiga Lily, our late bay window bus (T2b) from 1976.

Image_4

Beautiful early bay window (T2a) bus spotted 2014 in Geelong, Australian.

Beautiful early bay window (T2a) bus spotted 2014 in Geelong, Australian.

Early bay window (T2a) Westfalia camper from 1971 or 72, spotted 2012 in Berlin.

Early bay window (T2a) Westfalia camper from 1971 or 72, spotted 2012 in Berlin.





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!

Image_10

Image_9

Image_11

Image_8

Image_4

Image_1

Image_5

Image_7

Image_6

Image_2

Image_3

Image_12