Okay, so it’s not BLARG – but it is a recently eulogised classic that’s been a fixture of the roadscape for over half a decade. Charlton Mackerell certainly isn’t a fan though…
You see them everywhere in summer, middle-class motorists, often dressed as pseudo-hippies, posing with their teutonic split screen monstrosities, making a lot of noise and little progress with their outdated air cooled engines.
Indeed, there seem to be more of them on the road now than when they were new…
People think it’s cool to have one on their front drive. Now, cool is a label usually attached to showbiz personalities who died of a smoking related disease, think Steve McQueen or the Rat Pack.
These casual owners soon find out why air-cooled engines have disappeared into the dustbin of automotive history. They are noisy and – dare I suggest like all old vehicles (and I own a few myself!) – they are not 100% reliable and take time and money to maintain in a roadworthy condition. These vehicles are soon sold on when the initial enthusiasm wanes, especially after the owner also discovers that the VW splitty drives not like a front-wheel-drive car or a classic British sportscar, but a van. An old, slow, uncomfortable van, for that is what it is.
What is it about these vehicles that appeals so much? Why don’t people wax lyrical about Ford Transits, Bedford CFs, Commers, BL JUs and Sherpas of the same era, which were infinitely better vehicles?
I can only surmise that people associate the VW with the swinging Sixties era, which in our selective memory was driven by pot-smoking hippies that had dropped out of society (or what would now be called benefits scrounging and illegal drug use). Why do we eulogise this era, when we do not want our own children to follow the same course?
So I am not pulling my punches – the best place for a Volkswagen Camper is a car crusher!