Friday, 28 September 2012

Sum Doood’s VW Camper Vans

Sum Doood’s VW Camper Vans

Posted on February 24th, 2009

Sum Doood's VW Camper Vans

This weeks guest post comes from Sum Doood, a regular reader of the VW Camper Van Blog and a member of the VW Camper Van Blog Facebook Group. In this article, Sum Doood tells of his lifelong dealings with VW Camper Vans:

In 1959 at the age of three somewhere in Gloucestershire I was introduced to my first VW, a Kombi in which the family took holidays in wildest Wales and highland Scotland. I remember sleeping over the engine and waking to dodge the overnight condensation dripping onto my ex-WD sleeping bag.

We progressed to a comparatively sophisticated Devon Caravette and in 1966 moved to Wales where, with our hip-displaced Labrador puppy, we lived for three very wet autumn months in an old, crudely converted and totally immobile Bedford bus, what some might call a non-starter home. Perhaps for adults it represented too much camping because shortly afterwards the Caravette was sold.

In 1970 Alice’s Restaurant, a truly wonderful film, brought VWs back into my life. By then we were living in a converted chapel – the significance of which you’ll understand, if you’ve seen the film.

In the ’80’s I bought a 1959 Beetle for £100 from my Dad. Hand-painted a deep yellow, it had the dreadful 6 volt electrics and a huge folding sunroof. To compensate for dozy semaphore indicators I quickly relearned my hand signals, and to operate the reserve petrol tank lever with my left foot, but after about twelve months I managed to kill the engine while driving too fast on the M61. The roof was cut off and the remains of that fine little car went for scrap.

I then bought another Beetle, a 1303S which was pretty dreadful, until a so-called VW specialist garage made it worse.

It wasn’t until 2000 that my wife, Jo and I managed to get our own VW camper, a T3 hightop which for a couple of years seemed to be the best van in the world. Despite having needed two more engines and three more gearboxes, over four years it took us on many long trips around the UK, Eire, France and Switzerland and always brought us home again.

In September 2006 we bought a 2.5 TDi LHD VW T4 Westfalia California Freestyle in which we’ve made several trips to Western Europe and then (in 2008), a carbon-offset six week journey around much of Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway.