Volkswagen Camper Types

This section will give you a brief understanding of the the types of VW Camper Van and the basic differences between the models. We have written this purely as a rough guide so that you are more familiar with the types available so that it can aid you in deciding which model and type would best suit your particular need. It will also assist us in helping you understand some of the questions that we may ask when we are sourcing / inspecting a vehicle

Split Screen Manufactured 1954 - 1967

In 1954 the first of Volkswagen Commercial vans rolled off the Hanover Line. The design and style has become iconic and even in the 50's VW new they had struck gold with this classy look that has never been equaled !

Typical Split Screen mini-bus

Although not fast, they served their purpose as early workhorses and quickly became available as a Kombi option aimed at the family camping market particularly in the USA where uptake was greatest. The advent of the 60's saw the Split rise to popularity in the UK

The split screen bus was originally produced with a 34BHP 1200cc engine with 6Volt electrics, so unmodified performance is poor by today's standards. The driving position can be strange to get used to as the driver does not sit directly over the wheel, but many do not find this a problem. Many vans have been subject to upgrades to the suspension [IRS] and engine upgrades to the 1600cc 50 BHP later engines

Buying a used Split Screen has been very expensive, but prices appear to be dropping considerably due to the vast amounts being imported from the US and Brazil. However certain models such as the rarer 'Samba' multi windowed models are highly sought after and still command premium prices as do early Westfalia and Devon conversions

Prices range from £6000 up to £30,000 and more for the top spec Sambas


Bay Window - Manufactured 1967 - 1980

In 1967 Volkswagen introduced a vastly improved vehicle in the form of the Bay Window which offered superior safety, handling, and performance over its forerunner. Disc Brakes became available from 1971, and all bays benefited from 1600cc single and later twin port engines. Both these engines perform surprisingly well considering they generate only 50 BHP and will cruise all day at 55-60 MPF returning 25-32 MPG. Maintenance is simple and basic and reliability is excellent provided they are serviced every 3000 miles

The early Panel Van proved an instant success due to its easy maintenance schedules, maneuverability, reliability and workload capacity. The Kombi was produced for Westfalia conversions, but it wasn't long before the likes of Danbury, Dormobile and Devon started converting panels and kombis to their interiors. Many RHD models were manufactured for the UK market, however only diminishing numbers survive today due to the dreaded 'tin-worm' effect. Many people are now importing from Australia but the interiors are not to everyone's tastes

The majority of good bays in the UK are predominantly LHD and originate from Germany and California, although many of these are still victims of 'tin-worm', so there are no guarantees here either!

Early Westfalia US spec Bay Window

Prices for Bay windows have steadily increased over the last 5 years due to the limited availability of solid. rust free busses. Prices can range from £6000 to £25,000 for a restored or original van with history and pedigree. The most sought after vans appear to be later Westfalia Berlin and Helsinki models which can easily accommodate a growing family and seem to be becoming quite iconic in their own right. Early models [1967 - 71] that incorporate wrap around bumpers and the smaller rear lights are also highly sought after, and premium prices are to be expected due to the rarity and attractiveness of these versions


Flat Screen [Wedge] Type 25 / T3 Manufactured 1980 - 1991

From 1980 onwards VW drastically changed the shape of their bus to the 'squarer' look incorporating the more distinct 'Flat Windscreen' hence the nicknames 'Fat screen' Wedge' 'Brick'. Although not as aesthetically pleasing as the earlier models, there were many improvements to the earlier models in terms of performance, safety and handling.

VW 1988 T3 Westfalia 'Atlantic'

Early models up to 1983 incorporated the same basic 2000cc aircooled engine that was found in later Bay window campers. From 83, the 1900cc & 2100 cc WaterBoxer Suitcase engine, as well as a Diesel Option in the form of 1.6, 1.7, and 1.9 Turbo & non-turbo models, were incorporated into their range. Performance is noticeably better in the Turbo Diesels and larger watercooled petrol engines

Many Conversions are available ranging from the sought after Factory installed Westfalia range through to Devon, Autohomes, Danbury, and Dehler Profi to name but a few.

Prices range from £3000 up to £14,000 for the top spec Westfalia's models which are again the most highly sought after. Prices appear to be rising as does popularity!


T4 / T5 Manufactured 1990 - present

In 1994 VW introduced their new style front engined Transporter range named the T4 that incorporated a new smoother rounded look. As a commercial vehicle uptake throughout the world was a great success. Kombis were also produced in the form of a variety of Westfalia California conversions which offered an facelift version of the interiors used in the T3 models that started life in the 70's Berlin models. Bodystyles varied from pop-tops to hi-tops - each style offering well thought out quality interiors for the modern road tripper. The more recent T5 models incorporated the recent 'Mercedes' interior manufactured and fitted under the established Westfalia brand

a 1994 T4 Westfalia LWB California Club

Early models up to Engine options include 1900cc, 2400cc, 4 or 5 cylinder petrol or diesel with or without turbo. Later models incorporated a powerful 2.5 TDi. Performance is noticeably better in the Turbo Diesels and larger watercooled petrol engines


Prices range from £2000 for basic T4 'surf bus' conversions up to £25,000 for the top spec Westfalia's models which are again the most highly sought after. T5 prices vary but as always the California versions fetch the highest prices.


Next step

Whether you are looking for a van to holiday in, show off in, or invest in, we are here to help! Buying any used vehicle can be risky, but spending thousands of pounds on a 20 year old plus VW Camper can be very costly if you don't buy with a clear head and fine toothcombe. Our service may not be for everyone, and not everyone can afford to hire us, but for a relatively small fee, we can offer you reassurance and peace of mind that your decision was the right one, or we could save you from making a very costly mistake ! If you would like to know more about how we can help you then please use our contact form, or call us on 0844 3109000


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