Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Camp Car

1955 Volkswagen Bus - Camp Car
I love this scene!
I would imagine that in 1955, most Popular Mechanics readers in the United States had rarely seen a Volkswagen of any kind.  Type 1 (bug) sales got off to a slow start here in 1950, but were steadily climbing.  The Type 2 (transporter) had been introduced as a commercial vehicle in 1950 and by 1951 Westfalia-Werke was already converting them into the "Camping Box".

But with their unusual shape and air-cooled 40 horsepower engine (in the back, no less) they must have seemed strange indeed to the average US consumer.  They could be special ordered, but it seems most in that era were purchased in Europe by tourists or military personell and brought over.

Look at that magazine cover - who could resist this idyllic scene?  Three buds, probably on the same bowling team get together for a weekend of fishing and bonding.  Or maybe it's a dad (resting with his book) and his sons out for a weekend of quality time.

The Popular Mechanics article, in which the Volkswagen is described as "... a disease, and a contagious one at that!" also optimistically states that the engine will "normally go 100,000 miles without an overhaul" with a fan belt as the only spare part needed. My actual experience has differed slightly from that, but nevertheless I would happily own and drive one of these, if only the current purchase price (originally around $2,500) had less in common with the average 3 bedroom, 2 bath suburban home.

View the original article here.  Scroll down about a third of the way if you don't want to see all the adds, but they are fun to read also.


  1. I haven't seen that layout for a vw camper before. I liked it. Fits a lot of sleeping space.

  2. Todd - Right, looks a lot like some homemade van "campers" I've done - pull out the seats, build a large bed platform and all the gear gets stuffed underneath. Thanks for looking and commenting!

  3. It would be so great to have one, leave everything behind, live in it and travel for awhile...go to the woods and camp.. ahh... daydreaming!

  4. Urban Soule - Not to worry, daydreaming about Westfalia campers is a perfectly honorable pastime!