Let me introduce you to my good friend Stuey Baxter! Musician, Blogger, and all round good guy! Intrigued by his passion for VW campers I asked if he’d write an article to share with all of you good people at Mordues! So over to Stuey…..
I was born half a century ago, and this is significant as it’s also coincidentally the point where Volkswagen changed the famous Type2 (T2) split-screen or splitty bus to the T2a which is now known as the early bay window bus …..have I lost you yet!?
I was going to bore you with loads of information about buses, the different models and peculiarities of model types, and then thought that maybe reading it, someone might be fooled into thinking I was a bit of an anorak. People who know me would probably find that quite funny, but would testify that I am quite into my VWs.
So for people who don’t know, there are lots of different types of bus, the early ones or “splittie” bus, has a distinctive v shape on the front panel and a split windscreen made from two flat screens. The next significant shape change was most noticeable at the front where that V disappeared, and the single windscreen giving the nickname “bay window” was introduced. There were a lot of other differences, but that was the change that even someone as unobservant as my mother would notice.
I guess there are few vehicles which are more connected with the hippy movement as the vw bus, and although there were I’m sure lots of vehicles were used by hippies, the vw “hippy bus” is the one most people think about. I’m very much reminded of the old song by the Byrds – turn turn turn, talking of seasons, and although in some ways the bus oozes 60s charm and cool, it’s still very relevant here and now, 70 years on from its early production beginnings.
I have 2 buses, I have a 1971 early bay, and a 1990 type 25. So, the T25 is a quantum leap for me. But maybe I will return to that.
So the first bus I owned was my early bay “Ruby”. I bought it as a complete wreck and gradually rebuilt and improved it. It was a lot worse than I thought, but gradually got it to a point where I could throw my two girls in the back and head up into Northumberland camping. It’s a very cool thing to go camping in, and you can quickly understand why they have such a following, and why they work so well. I have three kids, and the youngest is now eight, her sister is 12. My oldest is 23 so doesn’t come camping any more and doesn’t count. She also can’t get insurance on it so for the moment it’s also safe.
It came with a stinky carpet, the furniture in a heap, and torn vinyl seat covers. I removed the carpet and fitted laminate flooring and refitted the furniture. I decided that the seat covers were way beyond it, and decided to have a go at recovering the seats, so bought a sewing machine and some vinyl, and got on with it. It took me a few evenings but it made a huge improvement.
As the inside was now looking pretty tidy, it became apparent ‘early doors’ that it was also family proof. It is the ultimate beach vehicle. It sweeps and wipes out very easily, sand, mud, body fluids, food, all just wipe away. Bikes, certainly kids bikes or scooters, space hoppers, footballs, the dog, cat, barbecue and windbreak – the options are almost endless.
What people don’t ever talk about, at least not within my earshot, is that the inside space is cool space. I’m sure there isn’t magic involved, or even some kind of cunning mood lighting. There is something very special about sitting in the bus, chilling, talking, sleeping, it’s so very soothing and relaxing. Take my word for it – it’s quite true.
What is particularly cool about these little campers is that on arrival, you pop the roof up, plug it in if you want to, get the kettle on and chill. It really is a very easy thing to manage. I often go somewhere that I can chuck the bud together and go out for dinner. Coming back to the bus, unlock, have a coffee and crash out. My faithful hound Sox, a whippet, has the whole camping thing fully in hand. She travels in the back, lying on the bedding inside the rear hatch. Whilst driving, I often laugh looking in the rear view mirror as all I can see is a pair of ears above the level of the back seat. Whippets have quite big ears.
So, the bus thing grew to be a two bus family, I got a second bay, but a panel van. I fitted a rock n roll bed, similar to that in Ruby and laminate flooring, panelled the walls with ply, and created another cool space. Oh, and yes I did the seat covers again, but this time I had to build the bed and get foam, cut it to size and then cover it. I didn’t really use this bus very much and sold it, to someone in Spain, so now she is living in Spain with a guy who is absolutely delighted with her.
So here we are, still got two buses, but one is now a later T25 bus. This isn’t as cool as the splittie or bay, but still packs a little retro 80s cool punch, a 1.9 petrol engine and 5 gears, and is even more comfortable. So now we have the ability to travel a little faster, a little smoother, so, maybe we will go a little further. The strange thing about it is that it’s got a water cooled engine, fabric seats, and a fridge, but when you get in it, it’s got that vibe, that cool space thing.
If you don’t have one you wouldn’t understand, …..so maybe you need to bite the bullet and buy one, ……get your mamas and papas album on, …..flowers in your hair and head for the coast. But please remember to wave back at the pedestrians who point and wave when you go past.
You can read more from Stuey Baxter at Baxter’s Ramblings
You might want to read about beach camping