More than 60 years ago it would have been impossible to imagine that the first VW camper conversion would spawn a vehicle that inspired a generation and would become a cult classic.
That VW’s van was chosen as the ideal base for a camper is no surprise. They were relatively cheap, plentiful and mechanically durable.
And you only have to spend time in a camper to see what the hippies who popularised them saw. There’s something wonderfully liberating about being able to bed down for the night pretty much where you please.
While that is the overriding feature of the camper there’s plenty more to like. The lack of a snout makes it surprisingly easy to manoeuvre with forward visibility that can’t get better.
Then there are the mechanicals. While the flat-four engine could never be accused of being brisk, it is durable and you can rely on an abundant supply of parts.
It is worth checking for excessive oil leaks, however, which could indicate the need for a costly stripdown.
Rust will cause the biggest problem and can affect all of the camper’s many incarnations. It can also be blamed for the machine’s next big foible – price. Rot has hit camper numbers hard, which has sent prices for original examples rocketing.
Opt against a sought-after Split Screen and you could have a nice original van that has spent much of its time in the US. There’s no mention of an MoT, but the vendor assures us that the only standout job that needs doing is a replacement front panel. As a Helsinki, it comes with space for two under the rear-hinged roof, plus two more in the downstairs quarters.
For many, an iconic split-screen van is the only option and if you are mechanically minded (and brave) you can pick them up cheap. Having said that, this example’s current location atop a flatbed, not to mention the worrying phrase ‘mostly complete’ and the obvious signs of rust, means this machine could put off even the most hardy bargain hunter.
Ten years down the line you could have a rather splendid example such as the machine above that is currently retailing on out sister site, PistonHeads, for a princely £99k. A 1961 Deluxe 23, it has covered fewer than 34,000 miles and looks close to perfect.
Charm, character, spirit and soul, the camper has got the lot yet manages to double as home from home, too. Use our free buyer’s guide to choose a good one and we will wager that you’ll never look back.