history of the Camper van


The history of the Camper van really goes back to the end of the 2nd world war, and the British found themselves (right) running the VW factory in Wolfsberg in Germany. To ferry parts across the massive factory stripped down VW Beetles were turned into little transporters, (below) a good idea thought Ben Pon (below right) a Dutch VW importer who in 1947 sketched his idea of a Beetle based van. (below left) Two short years later it was launched at the Geneva Motor Show as the modern equivalent to the ox and cart.

They say most ideas are simple ones, the one behind the VW bus is as pure and simple as they come. It started life off as a box on wheels and what a big box, 170 cubic feet and enough room to hold a 15 hand horse. It was meanly simple and in the next 5 years VW would turn out 90 different body combinations from, refrigerated ice-cream vans, half a hundred delivery vans from mobile milking machines to bakers bread vans, scores of milk floats, florists, vetenary surgeons , beer wagons, butchers shops, mobile grocers. Then there were the police wagons, fire engines, ambulances, the pick ups and last was the camper van. The first big sale was in America , in the mid 50s with dinky sinks and cozy cookers it was the home from home. By 1963 America had purchased 150,000 of these camper vans. The splitty was replaced in 1967 by the bay window model and what the bay lost in personality it gained in refinements with having windup windows and a top speed of 80mph. The bay window made the VW a success and by 1975 the Hanover factory had turned out 4 Million of these vehicles. Not bad for a van that started life as a box on wheels. A different choice of engine sizes were available from the 1600cc, 1700cc, 1800cc and 2000cc. VW had been giving away gold watches to anybody who got past the 100,000 mile mark, but had to stop when the bay window model arrived after giving away 160,000 watches, because it became more reliable. But in 1979 all that personality stopped be replaced by the wedge, the comfy camper became a bungalow on wheels (hope this does not offend any T25 owners). There are 5 Million of these vehicles made by VW so they must have done something right when they made the Camper Van.