Although it’s perhaps not the first thing that springs to mind when talking about camping, the Volkswagen camper was once the most fashionable way to travel and still has a firm place in many a camper’s heart.
It is, then, with a certain nostalgic sadness that the world is bidding farewell to the Type 2. Production ceases this year, after a 56 year run, with a final special edition of 600 models from the Brazil plant. These can seat up to nine people and will feature Atlantic Blue upholstery and an instrument cluster with a retro design. Each will come with a special certificate of authenticity.
So what is it that made the humble camper so very popular? Well aside from the sense of freedom and adventure it imparts and its ties to the super-cool California surf scene of the 60s and 70s, its tendency to break down seems to have something to do with it. “It was very unreliable,” remembers Rob Fearn, who owned a Type 2 in the late 90s. “It was always breaking down, usually at the traffic lights.” The vehicle’s simple engine made it easy to fix, giving drivers a stronger sense of ownership and ultimately reinforcing its appeal.
There’s also the camaraderie between owners that transcends any material benefits or failures of the model. Much like with Mini drivers, there are owners’ clubs and rallies for VW camper vanners, one of which is the Brighton Breeze. This year’s rally takes place on October 5 and will turn Brighton’s Madeira Drive into a haven for camper van for enthusiasts.
Whatever the individual reasons for owning this icon of free-spirited adventure, there's no doubt that it will be sorely missed.