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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New Kid On The Block

7 03 2015

Some months ago a friendly fellow with a VW T25/T3 campervan moved into our neighborhood. Now I pass by this van once or twice per day when I walk Leon dogwonder, and enjoy the occasional chat when I bump into the owner. The batch on the back lid says Atlantic Vanagon. The exterior parts (side panels, bumpers and front spoiler) look like those of the Bluestar/Whitestar/Redstar special editions built from 1989 to 1990, the last years of the regular T3 production. In addition, the Atlantic comes with a hightop and a complete Westfalia campervan interior. The German Wikipedia entry on the VW T3 describes the Atlantic as a “further upgraded campervan conversion” that followed on the “Camping” model (1980-83), the Joker, Club Joker and California. This one is a daily driver and also on the road in winter, but in quite good shape. My knowledge about T3 campers is not great, but there is a lot of information on the Atlantic campervan conversions on the Westfalia T25 / T3 / Vanagon Buyers Guide. The Atlantic campers were converted by Westfalia in their factory in Germany. You ordered them as factory conversions from Volkswagen. Volkswagen then delivered a certain body type (“253 kombi shell”) to the Westfalia factory where the campervan interior was installed. This particular van here was also the bus that welcomed 2015 in this earlier post. Welcome to the neighborhood!

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Nutzfahrzeug (German for utility vehicle, also VW's Commercial Vehicles division)

(German for “utility vehicle” and also VW’s “Commercial Vehicles” division)





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!

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Sage Green Family Meeting

31 05 2014

Nice encounter last weekend at the local DIY market: Taiga Lily met a cousin, a 1977 Westfalia camper in identical Taiga Gruen/Sage Green, freshly restored and in fantastic condition. Beautiful new paint job, fold-up roof also freshly re-sprayed. Also met the owner and learnt about another group of kombi fanatics here in Berlin. Greetings to Ruediger – looking forward to catching up with you guys sometime later this summer!

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Hawaiian Kombis, Part II

23 12 2013

The Volkswagen kombi seems to have a firm place in the Hawaii tourist folklore, with toy buses with glued-on surfboards lined up in every souvenir shop. But today’s surfers drive pick-up trucks, four-wheel-drives and SUVs, no more kombis on the beaches. Good to see that at least some of them have survived and are still in use. Below is another one: Found this green metallic beauty in the eastern part of Maui. It’s a 1974 Westfalia camper with 1.8L engine, interior rebuilt in bamboo wood, including the floor and the panels for the walls and doors. Cool battery of switches under the dashboard to operate an LED and laser light show all over the inside ceiling of the van. Originally fitted front spare wheel holder has been removed and the holes were carefully closed for a simple and clean look.

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The winding coastal roads with lots of one-way bridges, the surfer beaches and the beautiful warm and sunny weather reminded me a lot of New Zealand’s South Island and Australia’s Great Ocean Road. The small size of the island of Maui and its remote beaches and bays look ideal for a kombi holiday. I searched the web and found two rental companies that offer VW buses: Aloha Campers has a range of T3 Westfalia campervans, and Maui Camper Rentals rents out T5 Westfalias. Drawback seems to be that there is not really a great camp site infrastructure, and wild camping is unusual or even illegal. Interesting discussion thread on The Samba.com if you want to read up more on this topic.

Beach near Kihei on Maui, Hawaii.

Beach near Kihei on Maui, Hawaii.

Hookipa surfer beach northeast of Kahului, Maui, Hawaii.

Hookipa surfer beach northeast of Kahului, Maui, Hawaii.

Sun set on Hookipa  beach .

Sun set on Hookipa beach .





Hawaiian Kombis

22 12 2013

Two weeks ago I came back from a conference which, of all places, took place in Maui, Hawaii. So I escaped the cold Berlin winter for a few days and enjoyed fantastic talks in a beautiful tropical environment. A bit surreal but highly enjoyable. I used some free hours to cruise the island in a rental car and found several kombis along the way. Below are some snapshots of two of them. First a white and blue late bay with some added Hawaiian flower theme, spotted on the west coast near Lahaina. Time and the ocean climate have not been kind to it, massive rust in some corners, and rubber seals of front and back window sealed with duct tape. But a beauty nevertheless: Cool worn-out paint job, white seat covers and door panels, retro roof rack re-sprayed in white, modern-looking aluminum wheels, and some work invested in the strange effort to fit front & back bumpers from an early bay window bus to this late bay. Then a blue Westfalia camper, plain and simple and also a bit battered-looking, with retro early bay hub caps and Hawaiian flower theme picked up in the curtain pattern. Finally some snapshots from the beautiful coastal road north of Lahaina.

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High Roof Late Bay Campervan

10 11 2013

Another Berlin kombi, photos taken in July when this van parked around the corner for a couple of weeks. Front wheel box and cushion covers (green-orange-yellow plaid) look very much like a Westfalia campervan conversion, but the roof is unusual. Not sure whether Westfalia actually installed permanent high roofs on late bays. And on top of the high roof is another pop-up roof. I can see that having head room and extra storage room permanently is useful, seeing how small these campers are.

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