VW reveals biggest-ever California campervan concept, based on Crafter van
Volkswagen has super-sized its California campervan by producing the California XXL, a holiday wagon based on the award-winning Crafter van. It was originally revealed at the Dusseldorf Caravan Salon at the end of August, but it’s also taking up space on VW’s stand at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
The California XXL takes inspiration from the original Bulli camper, although at nearly six-metres long and close to three metres tall, it dwarfs its 1960s ancestor, and is far bigger than the standard California, which is based on the smaller T6 Transporter van. The XXL is based on the medium wheelbase Crafter, but the raised roof means it’s easy to stand upright inside, while there’s room for a double bed in the back. Another alcove above the cab makes room for kids to sleep and play, while a full panoramic glass roof creates a bright and airy interior.
But there’s far more to the California XXL than just room for a big bed or two. It has under-floor heating, the bed can be heated and cooled, there’s a retractable wet room-style shower, chemical toilet, full kitchen with hob, sink and fridges, plus a living and dining area. Much of the technology on board can be controlled via a special tablet controller or even a dedicated California XXL App. This includes controls for the ambient lighting (seven modes), music and opening and closing of the panoramic roof.
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Under the skin, the California XXL features the 2.0 TDI 177PS version of the Crafter’s diesel engine, while it also gets 4MOTION 4WD and pneumatic suspension that can be raised or lowered to put the XXL level on a campsite without the need of wedging the wheels into place.
On the outside, the two-tone white and brown paint is a nod to the original Bulli, while twin reversing cameras at different heights boost the driver’s view of his surroundings. The Crafter’s suite of cutting-edge safety tech is also present, with adaptive cruise control, lane keeping and blind spot assist all included. The XXL also has room for picnic chairs located in storage on the outside of the van, while a large Weber barbecue grill can also be fitted in the external storage.
Had it not been for an ID plate that had remained with the bus – and a Volkswagen enthusiast with an eye for rare Wolfsburg tin – then a rare 1951 VW Microbus Deluxe left sitting in a German field for more than 50 years might well have become so much scrapyard fodder. Instead, it’s now destined for a 10-year restoration.
According to that ID plate, which current owner Florian Kalff of Bonn, Germany, ran by Volkswagen’s archives before buying the dual pickup loads’ worth of rusted metal, the 23-window Microbus – aka “Samba” – not only dates to 1951, the first year of production, it also dates to one of the first days of production. Reportedly, the Volkswagen archives only list one earlier chassis number for a Samba, which has since gone missing.
Introduced in April 1951 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the Microbus Deluxe featured windows up and down its length, including at each rear corner, along with windows cut into the sides of the roof and a sunroof that exposed all six rear passengers to the sky. More chrome trim adorned the Samba than any other Microbus (“a magpie’s nest of brightwork,” as author Richard Copping put it in his “VW Bus: Forty Years of Splitties, Bays, and Wedges“), and it featured a full-width dashboard that lesser Microbuses didn’t. Its superior visibility made it a favorite of sightseeing companies, and its deluxe trim bumped the pricetag a good 40 percent.
Kalff’s Samba has a rather murky history. Records show that it went to Fleischhauer – a dealer in Köln – as a demonstrator, and the lack of a TÜV sticker on the license plate suggests it came off the road sometime before 1961. How or why it ended up in a field in the Eifel mountains of Germany remains a mystery. Kalff, a Volkswagen restoration parts dealer, has a theory, however. As he told Bonn’s General-Anzeiger, Sambas built before August 1960 made do with the Beetle’s 24.5-hp engine and thus became obsolete when Volkswagen introduced the 34-hp engine and synchronized transmission in the Microbus; it wasn’t uncommon for owners of the older Sambas to abandon their wagons.
The Samba had laid in the field for so long, the field’s previous owner claimed not to have known of its existence. Only when the new owner of the field began to clear it did the Samba – well, enough of it to identify it as a Samba, anyway – resurface. The new owner happened to know a customer of Kalff’s, and Kalff claims to have bought the Samba’s remains, which included the drivetrain, the aforementioned ID plate, and even one of the plexiglass rear corner windows, for a four-figure sum.
Kalff has since carted the remains to his shop about 30 miles away and started planning the Samba’s restoration, which he said will require at least 10 years and another six figures; a British coachbuilder has been conscripted to replicate the missing parts of the body and incorporate as much of the existing body as possible. The result of the restoration, he told the General-Anzeiger, should document the Samba’s history rather than sparkle and shine.
Volkswagen may finally be ready to release a modern day version of the iconic Microbus, according to VW boss Herbert Diess. Volkswagen’s boss recently confirmed that a fully electric VW Microbus is in the works.
VW recently gave us a hint that at the Microbus’s return with the I.D. Buzz electric concept that debuted earlier this year. Based on VW”s new MEB platform, the I.D. Buzz concept is jus one of the three electric concepts that VW has showed off in the last year.
During the new VW Polo’s debut, Herbert Diess revealed, “Emotional cars are very important for the brand. We are selling loads of Beetles still, particularly in US markets. But we will also have the Microbus that we showed, which we have recently decided we will build.”
VW’s design boss Oliver Stefani also revealed his desires to create a new Microbus at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, “We would like to bring this back because it fits so well to what the brand stands for: it’s emotional, it has functionality, it makes your life easier.”
There’s no word yet when the new Microbus will debut, but when it does it will likely share many design cues with the I.D. Buzz concept. The Microbus will share its platform with the rest of VW’s new electric models, which means it won’t arrive until sometime after 2020.
With the MEB platform this is the chance now to get the proportions back,” Oliver Stefani stated. “But you can also get much more interior space, almost one class higher”.
We have featured various home appliances based on this classic, but nothing as substantial as this Gorenje special edition VW Camper Van fridge.
Yes, you can get a fridge in two colour options (vintage baby blue or bordeaux red) based on the timeless and much-loved van and it looks amazing. A retro-style fridge based on the frontage of the van and complete with the logo is always going to be popular.
It’s also a practical item too. The fridge has an A+++ energy efficiency rating, 254 litres of net capacity, three adjustable glass shelves, a salad crisper drawer with humidity control, Freshzone drawer, bottle rack, LED interior lighting and of course, a freezer section.
So functionality matching the looks. Not too many stockists out there, but you can get it online for £1,149 in both colour options via Electrical Discount UK.
Guy Malpica was born in Chicago but moved with his family at the age of 5 to sunny Puerto Rico. There in the tropics, he grew to embrace the strong culture of family, balmy weather and his favorite pastime, surfing.
Uncles and friends owned VW buses and Guy routinely would jump in with five or six other relatives, and their boards, for long days out on the waves.
Guy, who now lives in Bensenville, moved back to Illinois in 1984 and for years sought to bring a tangible piece of those memories back with him. In 2014, he located the perfect icon to fulfill that wish: a classic VW bus.
“I wanted a vehicle to enjoy with my whole family and one that would represent me as a retired surfer,” Guy says. “I wanted to fix it in my style.”
He found a groovy red and white 1967 example in San Francisco and knew it was the right one. After getting it home, Guy wasted no time doing all his desired custom work. While he wanted a distinct style, he also wanted substance, so he dug into the Volkswagen’s history, researching and tracing its roots back several owners. Guy is the bus’ fourth owner but he located and talked to its second owner, Mike.
“He told me the bus had been bought new in Indiana,” Guy says. “It was (originally) used at a senior citizens center to move their guests around.”
Mike bought the bus from the center in the late 1980s and completed its first overhaul. Mike then sold it to a third owner out on the West Coast, where the VW eventually landed in Guy’s hands.
Since then, Guy has added such items as Wilwood disc brakes and a wooden roof rack up top, which is just perfect for hauling Guy’s short boards. He also painted the bumpers to match the body color. The bus features Porsche wheels and Guy plans to add a Porsche engine this winter to give his bus more “oomph.”
Inside, the cabin has been fully redone and features loads of room for Guy’s most regular passengers: his two daughters, Gianna and Diyanara. Together with Dyana, their mom and Guy’s wife, the family will motor all over the suburbs.
“Anytime we need to go somewhere, my girls will always ask to take the ‘red bus,’ ” Guy says. “They love it.”
Whether the family is cruising to Lake Geneva or through downtown Chicago, Guy reports the reactions are all the same.
“It’s always a hit,” he says. “People say hello, honk their horns and wave. The thing I like the most is the smiles.”
Want to travel to Somerset’s biggest music event in authentic style? A VW Type 2 split screen van, which featured in the cult 1980 film Getting Wasted is going under the hammer in the Charterhouse auction of classic cars on Sunday, June 18 and it would be perfect for Glastonbury (if you have cash to spare!).
“It’s probably one of the more distinctive vehicles we have had in our classic car auctions recently,” said associate director and head of the classic & vintage car and motorcycle deptartment, Matthew Whitney.
“Finished in its psychedelic paintwork, this lot is probably not one for the shy and retiring collector and is definitely not the sort of van you can lose in a car park.”
This could be the perfect Glastonbury vehicle and it’s up for sale
Getting Wasted is a film set towards the end of the 1960s, hence the fabulous old school hippy-trippy psychedelia painted VW van
The film is based around a group of military school cadets who rebel and features David Caruso, who later starred in CSI: Miami and NYPD Blues, in his first film role.
The VW Type 2 van has been owned by the Wiltshire vendor, a lifelong VW enthusiast, for over nine years.
He purchased the VW in America where he kept it for five years driving it around on visits and shipped it to England four years ago.
The van is a rare survivor, having been built in 1957.
With so many VW split screen vans from the 1950s and 60s having been converted into camper vans, attacked by tin-worm or recycled in the crusher, this very special van is going under the hammer on Sunday, June 18 just in time for Glastonbury the week after, for other summer festivals or just for hitting the road in.
Fitted with a later 1,500cc engine, which replaced the more lethargic 1,200cc motor, this piece of VW film history is expected to sell for £20,000-25,000 in the Charterhouse classic car auction.
Bristol Volksfest was a smash-hit in its new home at the weekend, with crowds enjoying a feast of cars, music and entertainment.
The festival, at Birches Farm in Long Ashton, featured music sets from Soul II Soul star Jazzie B, DJ Krafty Kuts, West Country legends The Wurzels and many more – and the event even had its own festival beer, from Bristol brewers beerd.
It was the show’s 25th birthday – and also the 50th anniversary of the Bay Window van and to pay tribute there was a special collection of 50 Bay Window vans on display.
Aside from the V-Dubs of all colours and modifications, there were vintage American street vans and other classic vehicles.
Only a handful of cars have ever managed to be considered both cute and cool at the same time. Fewer still acquire the kind of status that makes them sought-after collectors’ pieces in old age. Volkswagen’s original camper van has been firmly in this category for some time, and its position appeared to be confirmed after auctioneers set a top guide price at a record £90,000 for a pristine example due for sale.
These days, the VW camper is a ubiquitous feature of festival season or the summer surf scene, but it started life as a direct descendant of that other German classic, the Beetle. It came about only because of a suggestion and accompanying drawings made in 1947 by Dutch VW importer Ben Pon which imagined a cargo carrying vehicle or transporter on the chassis of the VW Beetle.
The concept of a small transporter was not new to the world. Europe’s bakers, tradesmen, plumbers, and others had been relying on compact vehicles with around half a ton of load capacity for decades. What was new after the World War II though was the idea of shortening the vehicle as much as possible to make it easier to manoeuvre in European cities, and to maximise cargo space.
VW wasn’t the only manufacturer trying to plug this gap in the market. All delivered an improvement over the long-bonneted, space-inefficient vehicles from before the war, but equally they all still had at least a bit of a “nose” which took up a sizeable portion of the vehicle’s overall length. Even worse, the pug-nosed vehicles built mostly by French companies managed to keep the length in check, but at the expense of driver comfort, pushing their engines in between the front seats to save space.
The VW van – sometimes known as the Type 2 (the Beetle was Type 1) – changed all this by shifting its air-cooled engine to the back altogether, allowing the driver and passenger to enjoy a relatively spacious compartment without much engine noise or engine heat. Driving the Type 2 was, in fact, a surprisingly refined and comparably quiet affair because of this, but also because of the very advanced suspension system VW employed.
This was an independent suspension for all four wheels, adapted from the Beetle. It did away with the crude, rigid axles and leaf springs that made rival vans a punishing experience, and offered road holding and handling that was superior even to some family cars. It might seem a quaintly ramshackle drive by modern comparisons, but the advanced and unconventional technology the van used in the middle of the last century helped build the reputation and customer affection that survives to this day.
Body construction was adaptable, and a large number of different types emerged over time, including delivery vans and micro passenger buses with any number of windows and window configurations. There were pickups, crew cabs with four doors, and, obviously, campers – some with folding roofs or raised roofs.
This cheap, durable, economical, comfortable vehicle spread all over the world, gaining a following everywhere it went. Its popularity reached the point where VW decided to produce it in more countries, including Australia, Argentina, and Brazil. Production continued in Latin America well over four decades after production of the Type 2 had ceased in Germany in 1967.
No competitor has ever managed to duplicate the factors that made the VW van such a success, or find the secret sauce behind its charisma and desirability.
One key reason for this may well be coincidence. You see, the VW Type 2, in all its guises, became closely associated with the hippie movement through the 1960s and 1970s, and with the progressive intellectual concepts of the time. An image was built that lasts till today. Mention the word “hippie van”, and no one thinks of a Toyota. The image that comes to mind is a flower-adorned VW camper with big eyes, being driven down a coastal highway in California by counterculture types in flared trousers, playing guitars and nursing impossible hairdos on beaches south of San Francisco.
VW really lucked out by having a monopoly at the right time as the sole purveyor of friendly-looking, economical campers that were easily recognisable as non-American just when that counterculture movement struck in the US. Friendly people with flowers in their hair began to drive them, live in them, attend open air festivals in them, and generally made them into the vehicle we all associate with the hippie movement to this day.
That combination of simple, wholesome German design and a dope-fuelled, tree-hugging spirit fulfilled some fundamental needs. Many can afford and run a small, reliable, well-engineered vehicle, especially when you can also live in it. Fuel consumption was low by comparison with US trucks at the time, and the possibilities for personalisation and adaptation allowed a break from conformity.
Driving a Type 2 meant being a rebel, and so it came about that the Type 2 spirit remains very much alive and valued among festival goers, middle-class enthusiasts and collectors alike. Whether endorsing a mainstream hippie image actually honours the real hippie founding spirit is a debate for another time, but it doesn’t matter; the vehicle symbolises the philosophy in one handy package, and that’s that.
VW has never quite managed to rekindle the concept; the Type 2 has been a hard act to follow for its maker as well as its rivals. The current version is a refined, quality vehicle but frankly rather dull. Perhaps, though, the next VW to capture the imagination of enthusiasts with £90,000 to spare could come from the new frontier of automotive tech, just as the Type 2 did in its time. No one can fail to see the powerful echoes of the original VW camper in the company’s plans for the ID Buzz – a familiar looking, timely, electric, self-driving van launched earlier this year.
According to the Sonoma, California, dealer advertising the VW camper on ClassicCars.com, this Westy is ready for a national tour. The flat-four engine has been rebuilt and bored out to 1,176 cc, the ad says, which should help provide enough muscle for these typically underpowered vehicles. The key to driving any VW microbus is to abide by one simple rule: never be in a hurry.
The transmission was professionally rebuilt recently, and it shifts crisply, the seller says, adding that the suspension and braking are excellent and the steering box was rebuilt less than 500 miles ago. The paint was redone not long ago and remains in decent condition, according to the ad.
“The interior is in excellent shape with recent new seat covers, insulation, front rubber flooring and custom, kitschy curtains,” the seller says. “It has a new tent and cot. The wood looks good and the sink, icebox and both fold-out tables are present.”
The Westfalia designation for VW’s iconic camper buses comes from the German company that built the interior furnishings and trim, including the special side-window treatments and pop-up roof. Although there are many acceptable aftermarket conversions for microbuses, the factory Westfalia versions are the most desirable.
The 1969 bus is a later-generation model, which has less-detailed styling than the earlier buses and a broad “bay-window” windshield instead of the classic split style. As such, this is a less-collectable year compared with the early ones, at least it is for VW enthusiasts and classic car investors. But that shouldn’t matter so much to someone who just wants to go camping in style.
The paint and bodywork are described as “driver quality,” which generally means there are visible flaws but still presentable. The seller notes that the floor up front was repaired, and while safe and usable, it could be more attractive; a new set of correct floor panels are provided with the sale for whenever the eventual buyer decides to weld them in. From the provided information, I would say: not a deal breaker.
One thing that the seller does not refer to is the low mileage of 33,246 showing on the odometer. I would figure that considering the extensive work that has been done on the bus, the five-digit odo has most-likely turned over, making it 133,246 miles. But that’s not terribly relevant if it’s been entirely refurbished, as claimed.
The asking price of $18,500 is not bad for what seems like a very usable VW camper bus in apparently very good condition, rebuilt mechanically and cosmetically with upgraded engine performance. The extensive gallery of photos with the ad shows that it’s very clean inside, outside and in the engine compartment.
“All in all, this is a good-looking Westy in excellent mechanical shape,” the seller concludes. “It looks great and is ready for fun summer camping.”
TREASURE: This rusted shell fetched £23,000 at Tennants of Leyburn
IT looks like a rotting wreck – and to many people that’s probably just what it is – but to others it’s an automotive treasure.
The heavily rusted shell of a classic VW campervan proved to be among the most eagerly sought after items at a vehicles and automobilia sale at Tennants of Leyburn.
Despite first appearances, the VW was a very rare 1960 Split Screen 23 Window Samba campervan. Despite a pre-sale estimate of £15,000 to £20,000 it eventually sold for £23,000
Volkswagen first introduced the campervan in 1950, and it has since gone on to achieve near-cult status remaining much in demand today.
Of particular appeal to connoisseurs, this example retained its original VIN and chassis number, and M-codes which revealed that it was originally supplied to Ramsgate.
Elsewhere in the sale, good prices were achieved for vintage Rolls-Royces, such as a 1965 Silver Cloud III, which sold for £25,000.
Vintage motorcycles, too, performed well – a 1949 Douglas Mark III made £3,200, and a 1937 Carlton 125cc made £3,500. However, the top lot of the sale was a 2016 Onyx EB37 Bugatti Recreation, which sold for £28,000.