Brand New Classic VW Type 2 Offers Instant Nostalgia
By Andy Bannister
One of the iconic vehicles of the 1960s and 1970s, the Volkswagen Type 2 camper – sometimes simply known as the VW Bus – is winning converts in a brand new form almost 30 years after it went out of production in Germany.
Danbury Motor Caravans, based near Bristol in the south west of England, sells factory fresh 2008 conversions of the vehicle, which is still produced by Volkswagen in Brazil. Retaining the classic looks of the old camper, they are distinctive enough to turn quite a few heads.
The second generation Type 2, a rear-engined VW Beetle derivative, was first introduced in 1968 and built in Germany until 1979, as a panel van, passenger bus, pick-up and – most evocatively – a camper van, often with an elevating roof. These classic German VW campers, lovingly cherished, are a common sight all over Europe, and fetch high prices.
Whilst the Germans moved on to the much improved but much less characterful Type 3 (Vanagon) in the 1980s, production of the Type 2 continued, first in Mexico and after 1996 in Brazil, where it is one of the most common small commercials nowadays.
The Type 2s sold in England are nothing to do with Volkswagen UK, which is now selling the latest front-engined T5 commercial. Danbury – a long established motor caravan converter – imports the Brazilian models privately. They fully comply with UK legislation, and are sold with a three-year warranty.
Today these latest Type 2s have abandoned the time-honoured air-cooled engine for a modern water-cooled unit, still rear-mounted of course. The engine has fuel injection, electronic ignition and catalytic converter, offering a modern driving experience.
British customers can choose between the Rio and Diamond models, which aim to recapture the spirit of the classic 70s campers updated to modern standards. These include far more comfortable seats from the VW Golf, a proper heating system – making the vehicle more of a year-round proposition – plus high quality fixtures and fittings which can be specified to meet the needs of the owner, with options including flat-screen TVs and DVD players.
An elevating roof is also optional, allowing the little VW to sleep four people and, depending on model, they can seat up to seven, making them versatile and practical. Exterior customisation, with lowered suspension, alloy wheels and special paint, gives an added retro look if required.
Such modern nostalgia doesn’t come cheap, however. The most basic model, still in left-hand-drive form, costs around £21,000 ($42,000). The top-of-the range entry, with right-hand-drive conversion to better suit the needs of Brits, comes in at a hefty £32,000 ($64,000).
Danbury also converts modern Fiat, VW and Renault vans, although these look pretty dull fare by comparison. The company does, however, have a further unique product, the hand-built Teardrop Caravan which also has looks harking back to a much earlier era of motoring.
Detail touches such as doors on either side with porthole slide windows, chrome hinges, teardrop shape chrome handles, quarter-moon front windows and smooth flowing wheel arches all add to the charm of this unusual little trailer.
At £6000 ($12,000) the lightweight and useful caravan sleeps two for an occasional night away and looks perfect for towing behind classic cars to give that period feel.
Suddenly, camping never looked so cool.
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