Volkswagen had a hit on their hands with the T1 and spared little time in following it up with the T2. Released in 1967 with a twelve-year production window ahead of it in most markets, but stretching production all the way to 2013 in Brazil when new safety laws finally shut down the manufacturer of the 60’s and 70’s icon. Lessons learnt from the original T1 meant that the T2 came with a larger, more powerful engine and uprated electrical system to better handle the rigours of camping duty.
The Westfalia conversion became a popular and desirable specification to expand the breadth and depth of the camper’s ability, however they were not the only company to offer conversion kits. Crucially, they are the one that Volkswagen decided would become their official conversion partner, a true credit to their outstanding work and making them the most desirable of all converted campervans.
Originally California registered this lovely example that spent its life in the west coast’s glowing sunshine, the owner advises the vehicle was imported to our shores in 2006. After a few years providing joy to the original owner that had imported the car, it was moved on and eventually found its way to the current keepers. A couple of years after picking up the campervan a tough decision was on the horizon, refurbish the original motor that ran on US-spec fuel injectors, or go for a conversion. Step in Fellows Speed Shop that provided a solution too good to turn down, a Subaru EJ20 engine giving more power and torque with better fuel economy and improved reliability over the original unit. All whilst keeping a boxer platform, true to the original.
To those that frequent Goodwood festival of speed and Revival each year you may have seen this camper before, the owner takes it there each year, both to enjoy the enthusiast scene and as a place to spend the night whilst there. Between there have been many long journeys around the south of the country and Wales, a joy in which the new owner will be able to continue straight away if they choose as the camper is still in fine health and ready to be enjoyed immediately.
A letter from Volkswagen accompanies this car confirming the vehicle was sent new to the USA in 1975. As with most imports of this kind there are no records from its time in the USA until it arrives in the UK in 2006, but there is the crucial paperwork for the engine conversion, followed up by further work the year after for a reconditioned gearbox.
Receipts for the engine and gearbox work totals nearly £9,000, a cost the vendor believes was worth it for the excellent shape this camper can now show itself to be in.
The interior front seats were treated to fresh covers a few years ago and appear to have only very minor wear, but the driver’s headrest does display its years as an original item. The owner tells us that although the fridge is not in working order it still functions well as a cool box. You’ll find a cooker and sink, with a water store just below, as well as storage space throughout. The cooker works normally, but the owner has never used the water supply/store to the sink so cannot confirm its operation For those that plan to camp at any time of the year, or that face a chilly late spring evening, this VW bus has been fitted with a Propex heater system under the rear bench, the owner advised this is in full working order and so should keep you toasty.
Cast an eye around the rest of the interior and you’ll find carpets in great condition, and a spare wheel tucked away in case of an emergency. Move to the front seat and get behind the original steering wheel that has been re-trimmed, and you’ll see out of that big bay window out to a destination unknown. A crack in the dashboard showed the honesty and originality of the vehicle without detracting from its excellent condition.
What a colour combination! The paintwork and the underside of this vehicle received attention after it arrived from California. Fortunately, due to it spending its life in a dry state there was little to do with the underside but underseal it to protect against our, shall we say, slightly less dry climate. After that, it was time for a respray, a not entirely necessary job but after years in the sun the lustre was gone and a refresh became the order of the day. This included a soda blast of the upper half and an off-white colour selected leaving this camper with a stunning contrast that makes heads swivel whether it’s at a show, a campsite, or just cruising along the open road.
As expected with a car that has received such care it was hard to find anything that wasn’t in exceptional condition for a forty five year old. A careful eye over the vehicle will find only a few minor points of note. A couple of paint chips and a small patch of bubbling, both minor and only the paint chip behind the sliding door noticeable without starting to inspect all of the stunning paintwork. A light line of corrosion was visible under the louvre windows and more noticeable on the inside lower portion of the windscreen. Likely water has got trapped inside at some point but the owner reports that none of this appears to be getting worse.
There is a chip on the windscreen but the careful owner still takes the vehicle in for a yearly MOT and it has passed with this chip.
The boxer engine is something of an icon and the owner was split on what to do when work was needed on the original unit that had American fuel injection and not many mechanics this side of the pond willing to work on it. Step in the experts at Fellows Speed Shop. Remaining true to the original, this camper now has a very reliable Subaru EJ20 boxer engine, so it sounds right, but the owner reports he can now get 30mpg, and has roughly 120bhp, meaning when other campers would be holding up traffic taking on the stunning views of a Welsh mountain, Scottish highland or stunning English countryside, this van powers on ahead. For those that have an original engine and want originality, the conversion is fully reversible.
A year later it was time for the gearbox to get some attention, once again the best option appeared to be out with the old, and so a reconditioned Bears Motorsports unit was fitted. Fellows Speed Shop provided an adapter plate to mate the two together and a quick-shifter was installed upfront for a finer change between gears.
With such expense and attention dedicated to the mechanicals it will come as little surprise that the van fires up first time and moves effortlessly with an added zest that means it doesn’t fall behind in today’s traffic. There is a plug for campsites positioned underneath the vehicle, easy to access once you know where it is.
The VW Campervan is an icon for so many reasons to so many people. Today the market has swollen even larger as clarity on international travel is still a murky game of prediction and promise. Uncertainty aside, the following for this classic bus grows and with it the chances of getting a good one that someone is willing to part with diminish.
This is a rare opportunity for one lucky future owner to not just have a classic that has lived the majority of its life under the California sun, but has been lavished with love by enthusiast stewardship up to now. This isn’t a project bus to get going in time for next sunny season, this is a vehicle that is ready to be used right now, whether it be for camping in a beauty spot and exploring our beautiful British landscapes, taking on a future European tour, or taking to a show and parking up with pride.
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