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In 1951 the German coachbuilder, Westfalia was the first to take a
Volkswagen and turn it into a 'Mobile Home'. By putting in a double bed, cooker
but refrigerators were rarely fitted in them days. To increase headroom
elevating roofs were offered . The Westfalia unit (right) being known by it's sloping
upwards towards the rear of the vehicle. Some even had bunk beds built into them
and in the 50s and 60s it seemed every man was starting up their own company to
offer camper conversions. In the USA most people bought the Westfalia model, but
in Britain the most popular conversion were the Devon conversion produced by
J.P. White of Sidmouth. These were equipped with two bench seats, a wardrobe,
two cupboards situated in the rear and a cooker. Which would include a water
system and additional cupboards. By the 60s the Devon had changed considerably
and improved, these were equipped with a double bed and singles for children a
twin cooker with grille a 7 gallon water butt, two tables, a food cooler,
stainless steel cutlery for 4, a large awning and curtains all-round.
Walter conversion (
Right, Dormobile) known by it's side elevating roof was supplied at extra cost and not
only offered extra sleeping accommodation but offered masses of head room (8
feet). Two bunk beds could be easily erected from there stowed areas at the side
of the roof. A (optional) Childs bunk could be purchased to be placed over the
front seats and (optional) seats could be purchased to be placed on the wardrobe
and in the alley , facing backwards, a 3 gallon water butt was supplied but took up one of the largest
cupboards. Behind the front passenger seat was a small wardrobe, with room
underneath the bench seat to take an awning. The cooker took up no room as it
was positioned behind the passenger seat.
Another conversion firm
known as Canterbury pitt was offering conversions but were similar to the Devon,
except they had a fold up cooker that mounted on the side door to give full
width rear seating. This also had a vanity unit in the rear for toiletries and a
curtain over the wardrobe section in the rear.
During the 50s Danbury offered conversions, but much of their work was involved
with converting panel vans, which meant they had to put their own windows in. On
their Multicar almost all of their fixtures were detachable so that the overall
layout could be changed to the owners likening. The sink could be removed to
make a large seat, when not in use the table legs could be unscrewed to make a
platform for the main bed. The Danbury came with tea-pot, frying pan and
Moortown Motors of Leeds also offered conversions which consisted
of 2 types, the first being a kombi and the second being a trimmed micro bus.
Both had a 6 gallon water butt with a rocker type pump. The cooker and hand
basin could be used from inside or outside the vehicle, useful for when the
optional tent was used. Moortown splitties are quite rare these days.
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