End of the line for classic VW camper van - but not in Kearsley
WHEN it comes to iconic symbols the VW campervan is probably one of the most famous throwbacks to the sixties you could think of.
The converted van conjures up pictures of hippies and flower power so news that production was ending could well have left many people of a certain age with a tear in their eye. But fear not.
Although production of the classic T2 (otherwise known as the VW Kombi) will end in Brazil this year — it was the last place in the world still producing this traditional model — the modern campervan is still very much in full production.
There have been several reincarnations and we are now on the T5 version, explains Derek Andrews, aged 67, who is the boss of Leisuredrive Campervans in Kearsley.
While the old version can no longer be made because of health and safety rules (it cannot be fitted with airbags) modern versions are perfectly safe and still as hugely popular as ever.
For anyone still owning an old T2 there are no restrictions, explained Derek, so these can still be driven legally. But no new T2s will be produced from December 31.
But with the VW campervan now even available with a separate toilet would anyone still want to buy the original?
Derek’s main customers are discerning enthusiasts reaching retirement with money to spend and, often, with a desire to re-live their youth, although enthusiasm is not restricted to the older generation.
A £40,000 van will get them the private conveniences and single beds — the luxury version is very much in vogue with slightly more mature buyers but from £20,000 Derek can provide a second-hand van base with a camper conversion and all fixtures and fittings will be new.
Derek’s interest started in the Sixties when, along with his dad Raymond, he saw a gap in the market.
Having converted a Bedford van into a van with facilities, the business was born.
A further 45 years down the line the business has gone from strength to strength and Derek and his wife Gillian enjoy the self-sufficiency of packing up and heading for the open road — seeing where their travels take them.
What model does he own? “It has to be the top-of-the-range version at my age,” laughed Derek.
- VW Campervans started life in the 1950s with the T1 — and the T6 version of the iconic van is expected to be launched in 2016.
- They have made guest appearances in many films including The Pink Panther, Field of Dreams, Dirty Harry and Little Miss Sunshine.
- In the 1960s a converted campervan would have set you back between £850 and £1,300.
- In 2010 the humble campervan celebrated its 60th birthday.
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