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Peace Vans taps into Northwest’s Westfalia camping cult

Dave Massie opens up the trunk of a 1991 Volkswagon Vanagon Westfalia camper van at Camano Island State Park, Friday, April 1, 2016. Massie, along with his wife, Chelsea, and Seattle Times reporter Tricia Romano, rented the van for a weekend from Peace Vans, a local van rental outfitter, located in the SODO neighborhood of Seattle.

Dave Massie opens up the trunk of a 1991 Volkswagon Vanagon Westfalia camper van at Camano Island State Park, Friday, April 1, 2016. Massie, along with his wife, Chelsea, and Seattle Times reporter Tricia Romano, rented the van for a weekend from Peace Vans, a local van rental outfitter, located in the SODO neighborhood of Seattle.

I never thought I would camp, any more than Harley Sitner ever thought he would own an auto shop.

For years, Sitner’s own Westfalia Vanagon had taken him to a Seattle mechanic. But the business was about to close, and Sitner, a former Microsoftie and entrepreneur who logged years in the tech trenches in Bay Area and Seattle startups, saw an opportunity.
“They were literally closing their doors,” Sitner said. “I was like, ‘No, there’s a real business here.’ ”

Three years and thousands of repaired and refurbished vans later, his business, called Peace Vans, has become such a successful operation — he has up to 100 vans on the Sodo-district lot at any given time — that he’s decided to pursue a rental business. He joins another local company, Black Forest Westfalias, in renting out the popular vans to customers for camping vacations

As the weather turns from rainy to sunny in the Pacific Northwest, the lure of the open road beckons, and the Westfalias are a good solution to bringing the comforts of home to the great outdoors. Increasingly, we want those comforts. We want hot food, a soft bed and a fully stocked refrigerator.

And by we, I mean, me.

I do not camp. I don’t even glamp. I spent eight years in New York and four in Los Angeles. When I want to convene with nature, I rent a cabin on the water and take a stroll outside and once it gets the tiniest bit uncomfortable, I go where it is safe. Inside, where there is electricity and warm food and heat and no bugs.

Campers make dinner as the sun sets over the Puget Sound at Camano Island State Park, Friday, April 1, 2016. The group of friends rented the 1991 Volkswagon Vanagon Westfalia from Peace Vans, and local van rental outfitter, located in the SODO neighborhood in Seattle.

Campers make dinner as the sun sets over the Puget Sound at Camano Island State Park, Friday, April 1, 2016. The group of friends rented the 1991 Volkswagon Vanagon Westfalia from Peace Vans, and local van rental outfitter, located in the SODO neighborhood in Seattle.

But what if I could have some of the comforts of home — a fridge, a stove, a bed with a mattress and the ability to flee under duress to a city if I became overwhelmed by the idea of camping? Maybe then I could be convinced.

A Westfalia could be the answer. There was only one way to find out: a trip to Camano Island in a Peace Van.

I met with Sitner, 47, the first sunny spring weekend in April. We went through the hourlong checkout where he showed me the ins-and-outs of the van.
It was clear that Sitner had a deep, abiding love of the vehicles. He thrilled at every little nook and cranny (and there were many nooks and crannies), and delighted in showing off the hidden compartments and clever details — like the metal countertop that folds down over the burners to create a cutting board, or how the removable tabletops could slide perfectly into a tiny sliver on the side next to the window.

“German engineering, right?” he said with a grin.

He first got hooked on the vans when taking trips with his daughter. “It’s just the ability to go anywhere and have everything with you. She’s 6, we can go get outdoors and go camping with her and create memories,” he said.

Westfalia Vanagons are the descendants of the Volkswagen Bus; a German company called Westfalia had begun converting them for camping in 1953, adding sleeper pop-tops and accouterments to VW vans. Vanagon production stopped in 1991. Because they are somewhat rare, they are now a hot commodity.
“A well-used ‘project van’ can go for under $10,000,” said Sitner. Or, they can be as much as $50,000. “I tend to tell people to get something reliable that’s not going to need a ton of work, it’s going to cost $20,000.”

Despite their limited availability (or maybe because of it) the Westfalia Vanagons, which are affectionately called Westies, have developed a cult following. One man, Foster Huntington, quit his job in New York designing for Ralph Lauren and embarked on a life of wanderlust: He created the hashtag #vanlife on Instagram.

The #vanlife hashtag trend caught on, and thousands of van enthusiasts have contributed to the hashtag on social media, documenting their trips and tricked-out Westfalias in blissful settings — the edge of Big Sur, on a beach in Albania, in the forest next to the Illinois River or rumbling through the desert in New Mexico.

“They are evocative of a road trip, which in general is a wonderful thing. There’s the sense of exploration and discovery,” Sitner said. “The van has everything you need; it’s a self-contained little adventure-mobile. It has a small footprint — it’s not a big, monstrous RV.”

His friendly competitor, Mike Kane, owner of Black Forest Westfalias, agrees: “There’s an appreciation out there — I don’t know if it’s nostalgia or what. Most people who rent them already know about them. They are looking for a Westfalia.”

Indeed the vans are so popular that Kane’s two vans are booked for all but two weeks of the summer; and Peace Vans’ four vans were booked at about 40 percent capacity at press time.

Dave Massie sets up an LED lantern that was provided by Peace Vans in the back of a 1991 Volkswagon Vanagon Westfalia at Camano Island State Park, Friday, April 1, 2016.

Dave Massie sets up an LED lantern that was provided by Peace Vans in the back of a 1991 Volkswagon Vanagon Westfalia at Camano Island State Park, Friday, April 1, 2016.

“It’s just wonderful to be a part of the community and be able to plug into that,” Sitner said. ”I went camping last week. The people across from me, they have a van, and now we share a beer, and are hanging out and talking. It was cool,” he said.

I was about to find out firsthand. I hopped into “the Pilchuck,” a 1991 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia with a burgundy exterior and pale-gray interior. Though it had stickers from Burning Man on its windshield (the Pilchuck had been Sitner’s personal vehicle), taking one to the Burn is strictly verboten.

Sitner sat next to me as we drove around the block a couple of times. At first it was awkward to be so tall and close to the front. (The engine is in the back). The positioning of the wheel at a flatter angle reminded me of driving a very small version of a school bus.

I bid farewell to Sitner and picked up my friend Chelsea (her husband, Dave, would meet us later). Our destination was Camano Island State Park. Sixty-seven miles from Seattle, it was close enough for a quick jaunt but remote enough to feel like a getaway. We’d arranged a sample rental for two nights. Peace Vans usually requires a weeklong minimum rental during summer months, offering rentals for as few as four nights during the offseason.

We arrived at the campground and set up “camp,” pulling out firewood and taking out the things we’d need for cooking. Though the van came with a fully loaded fridge and inside stove, we opted to use the portable stove and enjoy the weather.

Peace Vans come stocked with everything you could think of. Wine opener? Check. Plates, cups, pots, pans? Check. Salt and pepper? Check. Lanterns, dishwashing soap, something to sit on, a small table, fresh grounds from local company Conduit Coffee and a French press for the morning? All of the above. They even come with tents if you’re weird like that and want to sleep outside.

After an afternoon of Frisbee, we cooked burritos and roasted marshmallows. Afterward, we made our beds; the couple took the pop-up top and I slept “downstairs.” The vans are well-suited for a couple and a kid or two; four adults would make it a tight squeeze. It was better than sleeping on hard ground, but it was still chilly at night. The camper van couldn’t fix that; you only get heat if you run the engine.

We spent the next morning cooking breakfast — this time inside the van as the weather wasn’t so dreamy — and playing cards. It was so cozy it was tempting to stay inside all day, but Chelsea rallied us up and out into the world, where the sun had slowly started to peek through cloud cover.

We hiked a three-mile trail in the 173-acre beach park and enjoyed classic Pacific Northwest views — a collection of bleached drift logs and breathtaking scenery of Saratoga Passage.

My friends headed home and I stayed another night. Yes, that’s right, I successfully camped by myself and did not burn anything down. I cooked dinner and read by the campfire, and sipped some of the 2bar bourbon, a locally made spirit, provided upon request to customers by Peace Vans.

The next morning, I bid adieu to the campsite and toured the island’s rural scenery of wide-open fields and lush forests. I took the advice of a guide at Cama Beach State Park, where adorable cabins are for rent (and already heavily booked for summer), and took a road (fittingly, Sunset Drive) that eventually led me to English Boom Historical Park, overlooking Skagit Bay. I got lost a few times, but I didn’t mind; I could prepare lunch and sit at the water and read, free of charge.

There, the thing Sitner had told me would happen, happened.

A couple parked next to me and asked me about the van. They had a friend who had rented one down in Florida; it seemed neat. We talked about the allure of van life. Two people, who never would have talked to me, did.

Weeks after my trip, I found myself feeling wistful whenever I saw the vans on the road, already nostalgic. I could agree with Sitner’s sentiments. “They are just joy machines, really,” he said. “Everyone who drives them smiles.”

Busfest – Club discount!!!



If you are a current paid up member of the Volkswagen Type 2 Owners Club then you are not required to pay the Camping Unit fee at either of the Vanfest or Busfest events. (Note; This is restricted to 1 vehicle per membership).





What started as a small event called VANFEST in 1994 at the Malvern Show ground, UK has grown to become the world’s LARGEST INTERNATIONAL BUSFESTIVAL event for owners, lovers and enthusiasts of Volkswagen Transporter Van’s.

Held over a 3 full days in September, with over 8000 vehicles 25000 people attending plus over 300 trade stands the BUSFEST provides absolutely everything and anything you could possibly want to do with VW transporters plus a whole lot more.

The BUSFEST CREW extend a MASSIVE thanks to all of you who supported again at BUSFEST 2015. We look forward to meeting you all (and a whole lot more new Transporter Fans) again in 2016 at Malvern for the BIGGEST and BEST truly INTERNATIONAL VW TRANSPORTER FESTIVAL anywhere!

We have been through a difficult period over the past few years but are now well and truly back where we want to be and able to move forward again. We can promise that we will again be bringing you a really fantastic event for 2016.

Our ADVANCE TICKET BOOKING system will be opening JANUARY 15TH 2016 when we will also be announcing (most of) our 2016 EVENT PROGRAMME.


There is a small increase in our Adult entry fees for BUSFEST 2016. This is our first price increase in 3 years & necessary if we are to be able to continue to produce and develop what is the World’s Biggest & Best VW Transporter event.

The ADULT Price is now £40.00 Per Person. (Children up to & including 16 years FREE Entry)

The CAMPING UNIT Price remains at £20 for a 7mx7m plot.

(And unlike most other events you will NOT be hit with ANY additional Booking or Delivery Fees).

The DAY VISITOR price remains at £15 per adult.

There will also be an advance DAY VISITOR W/E (3 Day) Pass available at £40 per Person.



CERTAINLY – With a Full 3 days to keep you amused we will have the MOST comprehensive Entertainment programme for all ages of any VW Event. (We ARE still providing FREE evening entertainment).

UNDOUBTEDLY – We have use of the BEST Show ground and facilities in the country for staging our event (whatever the weather!!). With excellent fixed indoor (and outdoor) facilities, Welfare blocks (including showers), Restaurant & mobile Catering, good water supply, drainage and tarmac roadways we know you will have a good time when you are with us.

PROBABLY – We will be presenting the BIGGEST vehicle displays of any event (anywhere).

DEFINITELY – You will find we have the LARGEST Trade Area of ANY VW event (in the World!) with everything you may want (or not) for your Transporter. PLUS; a MASSIVE Vehicle Sales Area.

If you have any doubt as to what we are capable of achieving (or have not been to our events before then check out the info, comments & pictures on our face book page).














This retro VW fun bus isn’t real, but it really should be

Retro is cool. And retro sells. The Fiat 500 and Mini are just two obvious examples of this.


And their success has, with mixed results, been used to form larger, more practical cars such as the 500L and Clubman. But what if there were a classic car of larger proportions that could be reinvented more naturally?

There’s a blindingly obvious candidate, of course: the Volkswagen Transporter and its people carrying and camping slanted spin-offs. VW itself has dallied with bringing it back to life, much like it did the Beetle, but the closest it’s come is a two-tone Caravelle.


Cue David Obendorfer. We’ve featured his fine penmanship on Top Gear before, but he’s been at the rendering software again and concocted this, the T1 Revival.

Its design is based upon the floorplan of the latest T6 Transporter – so it’s of useful stuff- and people-carrying size – but with an extra 7cm in the wheelbase. It is also much cuter and curvier, with clear design elements from that first T1.


The cuteness continues inside, too; check out the amazing air vents atop the dash, the slender door handles and the single, round dial. All, you won’t be surprised to learn, ape their equivalents in that original 1950s fun bus.


So, then: this or a Fiat 500L MPW to shift you and your mates around? We imagine it’s no contest.

sfhdh sfhdgh

FBI report – Camper van used as part of a robbery


I just hope it wasn’t a getaway vehicle….


The man who the FBI says robbed a bank in Cheyenne, Wyoming late last month while wearing a surgical mask may be connected to a Volkswagen Camper Bus with a flower design and Colorado plates.

The robbery happened on Feb. 29 at around 11 a.m. The FBI says the man robbed the Warren Federal Credit Union inside of a Safeway at 700 South Greeley Highway. He left with an “undetermined” amount of cash.

Police described the suspect as a white man who is around 6 feet tall and 185 pounds. At the time of the robbery, he was wearing a heavy coat, black surgical mask and heavy knit cap.

He is believed to be connected with a white 1970s model Volkswagen Camper Bus with Colorado license plate that had a “flower or pattern design.”

Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to contact the Cheyenne FBI Office at 307-632-6224 or the Laramie County Sheriff’s Office at 307-637-6524.

Show season’s starting again!!!


THE fourth annual Volkswagen car show will be held at Harrogate’s Great Yorkshire Showground next week.

The Spring Dub show takes place on March 6, and will see classic VW camper vans and modified cars from the Dub scene on display with more than 400 expected to be on show

Also this year, there will be a display of scooters, including an original prop from the film Quadrophenia.

Spring Dub opens at 10am on Sunday. Tickets cost £7.50 online, or £10 per adult on the gate. Tickets for under-16s cost £4.

For more information go to


Spring Dub 6 March 2016 Indoor VW VAG show The Great Yorkshire show ground Harrogate


Fitting send-off for former VW Club chairman



Tony Varga, a former chairman of the North-East VW Club, recently died of cancer and his funeral took place on Tuesday, February 2.

Among the mourners were his wife Suzanne, their daughters Clare and Leigh and countless family and friends.

A convoy of Beetles and campervans followed the hearse from the Rolling Mills social club, in Longfield Road, to Darlington Crematorium.

Steve Lambert, the current chairman of the club, had known Mr Varga for about ten years and said his friend would have been proud at the turn-out for his send-off.

The Northern Echo: The funeral of Tony Varga, a former chairman of the Northeast VW club. Picture: TOM BANKS

Mr Lambert said: “If Tony had been there, he would have grinned from one side of his face to the other.

The Northern Echo: The funeral of Tony Varga, a former chairman of the Northeast VW club. Picture: TOM BANKS

“It was quite a sight to see all the Beetles and campervans lined up, Suzanne was absolutely over the moon.

“Tony was a lovely fella, he really was Mr Sociability.”

Those words had earlier been echoed by Clare Varga, who described her father as ‘the life and soul of the party’.

She said: “He’d love to be remembered as a good laugh who did his best to help anyone who needed him.

“He was very well thought of and we’ve been overwhelmed by the support we’ve had since he passed away.

“He was mum’s best friend and always there for me and my sister – his death is a huge loss to us all.”

This Volkswagen Bus and Camper Combo are Vintage VW Royalty


When it comes to collecting vintage Volkswagen Buses, it’s all about the windows; the more light that comes in, the more money it accompanies. In that regard, this vibrant 1963 Volkswagen Bus is one of the best, a coveted 23-window Type 2, but interestingly it’s not the rarest species pictured.

The trailer that accompanies it is, said to be a microbus-specific 1967 Eriba Puck camper, and one of only five surviving models in the world. Both the vintage 23-window Bus and its accompanying trailer will mount the auction block at the upcoming RM Auctions Amelia Island event in March, where the pair will sell at no reserve.


Built in Wolfsburg, Germany in March of 1963, the VW Bus’s story begins with a trip across the Atlantic to its first owner in San Francisco, where after a few years it was purchased by a private girls’ school in Kansas City, Missouri. After some years it then made its way back to the Bay Area and into the collection of a steadfast microbus enthusiast, this time accompanying the rare Eriba Puck camper.

First sold in the United States in 1952, the Volkswagen Type 2 caught in North America is equipped with an air-cooled horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine. It’s appeal lies in the ease of maintenance and the iconic sound it produces. Mind you, 50 brake horsepower won’t get you anywhere fast, but going fast defeats the purpose of the 1,585-cc single-port Volkswagen engine. Other technical highlights include a four-speed manual transmission, four-wheel drum brakes, and front and rear torsion bar suspension.

As per its certificate of authenticity, this Microbus was built in Wolfsburg on March 13, 1963, and was sold new by a dealership in San Francisco. After it had been used by a private girls’ school in Kansas City, the Type 2 and its trailer were bought by an enthusiast who performed a bare-metal restoration on both. Then the 23-window Microbus was purchased by Ryan Gardner of St. George, Utah, who has driven this Volkswagen Type 2 about 1,000 miles (1,600 km) in nine years of ownership.

The current owner is an enthusiast who has owned six other examples. Just like Ryan Gardner, the current owner once more restored the Type 2 and its trailer. But the time has come to part ways with it and let other Volkswagen enthusiasts enjoy the thrill of owning the VeeDub and the matching camper. If you’re interested, then save the date: March 12, 2016, at the Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, Florida.

Both were given a very thorough restoration in the 1990s, and since then the pair have only seen light use and the custody of two other owners, one of which re-restored the duo a second time. Despite their five decades of age, both appear to be about as clean as the day they were new.


Apply for Just Kampers online discount!!!

Image result for just kampers


VWT2OC have negotiated  a discount with JK no matter how you order!!

Discounts are available to VWT2OC members if you register with JK by e mailing :

Once you’ve registered you can obtain a discount in person, phone, or internet.

You need to mention VWT2OC or else he might worry why you’ve got in contact…!?!

Not everyone deserves these fantastic deals!

Thanks very much Just Kampers!!!

Camper Mart returns to Telford this January

 Polly’s Parlour owns a multi awarding winning beautifully restored 1966 VW vintage ice cream van called ‘Florence’

VW enthusiasts will be heading to the Camper Mart show at The International Centre in Telford later this month.

Camper Mart will offer more to visitors in 2016, with two halls being given over to traders, with everything from conversion companies like Celtic Motorhomes and Vanhaus, through to accessory experts like Van-X and camping gurus, Lightning Leisure, to specialist companies like Fat Bob’s Emporium and the VW Keyman.

Event Director, Shelley Bond, said: “We’re delighted to be building on the success of Camper Mart by expanding to take over three halls at The International Centre, showcasing almost twice the number of VW buses as last year. We’ve been really pleased with the response to last year’s show from visitors and traders alike and it’s great to be getting so many enquiries about the show already at a time when many are busy making plans for Christmas. We’re pleased to be perking up the traditionally quiet month of January!”

The number of VW buses on display will be nearly doubled this year, and with the release of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ in December, Camper Mart have invited UK Garrison, a costuming group and enthusiasts, to the event – rolling up in their very own VW, which will be among the vehicles on display and is obviously their preferred land transport! Stormtroopers, Boba Fett and maybe even Darth Vader will make an appearance. They will be raising money for the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation. The Bus Doctors will also be on hand to offer their own brand of down to earth practical advice for all your bus related problems and queries.

The third hall is the entertainment hall where eight teams of scary boys and equally scary girls go toe to toe in the Roller Derby, including one team rather splendidly named ‘The Crash Test Brummies’. New for this year is a Ukulele Workshop where you can get strumming and humming along with the host, Gacko. So why not start the New Year learning a new, fun skill that’s suited to all ages and abilities. BMX enthusiasts and skateboarders will perform amazing stunts on the ramps, whilst Pif-Paf will again offer an incredible two-wheeled adventure for the younger show goers, with giant adventures departing right from the heart of the show in their Flycycle and Submercycle machines. Rainbow faces and Henna cat will again be showcasing their face and body painting skills respectively.

If all of that’s not enough excitement, there will also be a music stage where live bands and singer/songwriters will be playing all day.

Adult day passes for Camper Mart which takes place on Sunday 31st January cost £10.

Is The New VW Microbus a Surf Van?

The VW Budd-e. The van that nobody wanted.

Dammit Volkswagen.

When it was announced that the new VW Microbus-based van concept would be revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show, it should have been obvious that the van would be a piece of overwrought electronic gadgetry. But still, I held out a little hope that the company was finally bringing back a (relatively) affordable and efficient people/gear hauler, one that would be ideal for surf tripping.


This week, the world’s second-largest automaker rolled out the “Budd-e”—an all-electric toy that looks like something from a Pixar cartoon made manifest in steel and plastic and silicon. Yes, it has an all-wheel drive electric powerplant which is pretty cool, and supposedly will run 250 miles or so on a charge. BUT! The interior is lifted from the special-effects extras bin left behind by the crew of the new Star Trek movies. The gauge clusters are just three iPad-looking tablets stacked together. You open the doors and the tailgate with swiping gestures, a luxury (?) that I can’t possibly assume is in demand. And boy is the Budd-e ready for the Internet-of-Things revolution. Approaching your house in this thing sets off a bunch of sensors and, if your home life is set up for it, your TV turns on, the AC starts blowing, your fridge makes ice cubes, the stereo cranks up, and Rosie the Robot-Maid starts wheeling around the place vacuuming (Jetsons joke).

Anyway, it sucks.

What also sucks is that car companies no longer build simple, cheap, reliable vans or pickups or wagons anymore. Oh sure, you could drop $40k on a Tacoma, or $50k on a Volvo wagon, or $60k on a Sprinter van, but holy hell, that’s a HUGE amount of money for a vehicle that you aren’t going to also live inside for the next 20 years (if you are going to do that, by all means, spring for the Sprinter).

Literally the last kind of dashboard you want to see when your hands are covered in saltwater and sand.

All of the nostalgic charm of the VW Microbus that the Budd-e abomination is trading on was wrapped up in the simplicity. You and a friend could practically pick up and carry the old 1.6-liter motor over to a soft Mexican blanket laid down under a palm tree if you needed to work on the thing. Even the Vanagon, which VW stopped making for the U.S. market in the 1990s, was a relatively simple affair. But once the $70k Eurovan debuted, suddenly, the VW van was no longer a vehicle you could really afford to get sandy, or a vehicle that you could afford to own just for its beach capabilities.

Listen, VW: nobody wanted a van like the Budd-e, least of all surfers who have no use for complicated touch screens when our hands are covered in sand and grime. What we wanted was an updated version of a cheap van that we could beat to hell and melt wax in without panicking.

I could actually deal with your diesel-gate scandal, VW. As despicable as that is, at least it was done in the name of heightened performance; those TDIs are awesome to drive. But the Budd-e is just offensive to van enthusiasts everywhere, and in particular, to surfing van enthusiasts who are still doomed to prowling Craigslist for pricey, used Vanagons. Thanks, but no thanks.