I’m a sucker for old VW campers.
I had mine for a decade. Drove it to work every weekday. Weekends and vacations, it became my adventuremobile.
I see them everywhere around here, people who still use them in the dual purpose way I did, people who have rebuilt and rebuilt and rebuilt them, as well as people who have restored them, to a standard that may be better than when they left the factory.
The air cooled Type 2’s are now well over thirty years old; the Vanagons twenty-plus. And they roll on.
Yesterday, I parked next to a Vanagon Westfalia. Predictably, I noticed it. I noticed this one for several reasons. From a distance, I saw the trademark sloping pop top in the up position. As I pulled into the parking space, I noticed the sliding door facing the beach and the view of our vast inland sea, just as it might be if the owners were camping in that space. As I stopped my car, switched off and set the e-brake, I noticed it had the look of having been on the road for some distance. Sure enough, Georgia tags. Finally I noticed the sump guard, a telltale sign that the VW flat four engine had been replaced with something else, a popular option by some owners to increase power and reliability. I used the engine swap evidence as a conversation-starter with the owner, standing outside.
“Oh, you noticed that, didja.” His delightful southern speech matched the Georgia tags as he told me they had just completed their cross country leg, the first of what is to become a loooong adventure in their Westy. They’d already taken a few trips from the southeast to the destinations as far away as the Rockies, sort of like shakedown cruises. Now, having made it to the Pacific Northwest, the intent was to explore the Pacific Ocean coast for a week or two, then move on to Oregon and then the southwest. Later will come Mexico and Central and South America.
I’m not too sophisticated to get the old familiar Walter Mitty feeling. As he told me his tale and of their ambitions, it came upon me again. I hope to vicariously make this trip with them, albeit from my armchair. I hope for their dispatches from the road, to read of their route, their discoveries, their trials, their wonder, their joy of discovery. I’m rooting for them and their old friendly VW Westy.
More power to them. Safe travels. And much enjoyment. I’ll be keeping good thoughts for the three of them. Roll on.