Wednesday 11th May 2016
Volkswagen Westfalia Campmobile SO44
|Estimate||£30,000 - £35,000|
|Description||Volkswagen Westfalia Campmobile SO44|
|Colour||Blue and white|
|Engine size||1,500 cc|
|Documents||Registration in progress; NOVA documents; MOT April 2017|
In a miracle of ‘tardis-like’ packaging, the VW Transporter used the same wheelbase as the Beetle, its uncompromising and boxy shape providing a huge amount of interior space and a useful 1000kgs payload - hard to believe that its footprint is virtually the same as the cramped saloon.
Performance wasn’t the main priority, the first vehicles using an asthmatic 1,131cc engine which was geared down to cope with the job in hand. In 1963 a more lively 1,493cc version of the air-cooled flat-four was introduced which lasted until the arrival of the bay-window in 1967.
As with many vehicles throughout history, the uses to which they were eventually put could never have been foreseen by the manufacturer, owners soon adapting them for their own purposes. In the case of the Transporter, the simple panel van was often used as accommodation, both for work and leisure. All-credit to Volkswagen, they soon saw what people were doing and started to offer a basic ‘camping box’ which included rudimentary storage and a simple bed.
Demand soon decreed something a bit more comfortable and Volkswagen enlisted the help of Westfalia to build full camping conversions which could be sold through the Volkswagen network. These beautifully finished ‘homes from home’ spawned a whole raft of locally produced conversions across the world, Volkswagen remaining happy to supply basic vans for modification, alongside their range-topping home-grown Campmobile.
Westfalia produced them in considerable numbers, fitting out the interiors with Baltic-sourced beech plywood units, a small pop-top to make it possible to stand up inside and a well-equipped kitchen. European supplied Westfalias were built on base Transporters supplied as ‘Special Order’ 44 units. Those destined for America used ‘Special Order’ 42 base vehicles which had different headlights and bumpers, although it was quite common for completed campers to shuffle back and forth between continents, so it is hardly surprising that this SO 44 European based Westfalia was imported four years ago from Georgia, USA.
Believed to be one of just 40 or so SO 44 Westfalias thought to have survived, this stunning example has been completely restored, having just emerged from a bare metal restoration including a respray back to its original colours. The bodyshell was stripped and rebuilt with a new load floor, cab floor, replacement cargo door bottoms and a new sill on the passenger side.
It was then repainted Cumulus White over Sea Blue by Dale Tyler (renowned Hereford-based VW painter) and a fully detailed and correct 1,493cc single-port engine fitted which was bench tested prior to installation. The gearbox was checked and the brakes and suspension overhauled using many new parts including steering joints, shock absorbers, kingpins and link pins.
On the inside the seats were carefully retrimmed by Waboo of Fromes Hill, who placed new material over the original to preserve the Westfalia factory material. New wood carcasses were then made as exact copies of the originals, these new units retaining the Westfalia hardware along the way. The original units have been kept and are included in the sale.
In a further bid to keep the van as correct and original as possible, the ‘camping gaz’ cooker and fridge have been reinstalled (both untested) and the cab includes a retrimmed three-person bench seat covered in specialist US-supplied material, a restored steering wheel and a period Blaupunkt radio (which no doubt only plays the Beach Boys!).
Up above, the pop top has been fitted with what are thought to be NOS Westfalia bellows and an accurate copy of a Westfalia roof rack which has been further galvanised as per the original. The refurbished wheels have been sandblasted and repainted and fitted with the correct specifaction van tyres and a full set of new rubber seals fitted throughout.
Now complete, this extremely rare, desirable and carefully restored van is awaiting its registration number from the DVLA, which should have arrived in time for the sale. It is MOTd until April 2017. Ready to show, this extremely rare 51-year-old ‘Westy’ Campmobile is sure to create an enormous amount of interest where ever she goes.