We appreciate that most of our members
already own a VW Camper, but not all of our
members have taken the plunge just yet and
some may be looking for an additional project
or a change of scenery.
Over the coming issues, we will take a look
at the Volkswagen T2 in its various forms and
provide some information as a buying guide.
This issue, we start with the Split Screen.
An early VW such as a split will not be the best
motorway vehicle, but if you don’t mind taking
it easy there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be
They can be like an “old bus” with their huge
thin rimmed steering wheel and like a bus,
don’t expect it to handle like a modern
vehicle. It will be slow, use lots of fuel and
will more than likely break down one day,
but that’s the fun of VW Camper ownership (or
so they say!).
Remember also that the split screen buses
have smaller engines than the later models
and will b less powerful than what you
may be used to.
This is probably the most important part
of any potential purchase. All classic VWs
suffer terribly with rust and splits are no
exception. If you can find one that is pretty
original and rust free, you’re onto a winner!
But this is highly unlikely due to the age of
the vehicles and that previously there wasn’t
as much interest in these vans, meaning that
a lot of them have been repaired badly. If
possible, you want to avoid putting someone
else’s shortcuts right, but chances are that
most out there for sale has at least one
Rust can and will affect most areas of
bodywork, especially the bottom 6 inches. This
includes the lower front panel, outer sills, rear
corners and wheel arches. Other hotspots are
inner sills, chassis rails, outriggers and jacking
points. It’s worth having a look at the floor,
tailgate, bottom of doors and areas around
If you come across a van that you decide to
take on, repair panels and sections are readily
available from many specialists, but before
handing over the cash, ask yourself whether
you are ready for the commitment that project
Air cooled engines can be reliable when
properly looked after, but the stress put on
them by the extra weight of a van, especially
a fully fitted out camper, can eventually have
an effect. As discussed in the last issue’s
“Don’t Panic, Ask The Mechanic!” feature on oil
temperature, oil is one of the most important
components of the engine, so it is good to see
evidence that the oil has changed regularly.
Oil leaks are common, but some are trickier
than others to repair and may require engine
removal, something worth thinking about
with any potential purchase.
Blue smoke when revved can indicate worn
valve guides, lack of power could be a number
of things but could be a compression problem.
When the engine isn’t running, give the lower
pulley a tug as excessive movement/end float
could mean main bearing wear, resulting in an
Lots of Split Screen vans have been lowered. If
done sympathetically it can improve handling.
This is commonly done using adjusters on the
front beam. If this has been carried out it is
worth checking the quality of the welding and
the adjuster itself. The rear is usually adjusted
by turning the rear spring plates on the torsion
beam or by using adjustable plates, these
should also be checked for condition.
With regards to brakes, there’s not too much
to worry about as everything can be replaced
inexpensively, but to check things are set up
ok, make sure the van pulls up in a straight line
on a test drive.
There have been various companies offering
camper conversions over the years and
generally there’s little to choose between the
different conversions. It’s worth viewing as
many different vans as you can to see which
internal layout works best for you. If you’re a
purist, original condition will be important.
Otherwise, as long as items such as the
sink and cooker are working, the rest of the
interior cabinets and upholstery can be easily
refurbished. Watch out for home conversions,
items such as fridges need to have proper
external ventilation, so make sure these are
What to Pay
As you’re no doubt aware, all bus prices have
gone through the roof in the last few years
which is good news for owners, and rubbish
for anyone interested in buying. Realistically,
you are unlikely to find a split screen bus
in any shape or form for anything less than
£10,000 with the cheapest kombis likely to be
£15k-£20k. Half decent bona fide split campers
that are ready to roll will be anything from
£20,000 right up to £60,000-£70,000.
Buying an import from the US or Australia
might be the best option to avoid bodywork
issues. The key will be to swot up on where
they rust and go into the buying process
with your eyes wide open. If you do buy a
rusty project, rest assured if you are able to do
the work yourself you’ll be sitting on a great
investment. If you propose to pay someone
else, bargain accordingly and bear in mind
there’s always going to be more rust than you
The opinions expressed here are the personal
opinions of the author and do not necessarily
represent the views and opinions of The
Volkswagen Type 2 Owners Club.