We bang on a bit about how much we love the Westfalia conversion, but what exactly is it and why do we love it so much? I hope to be able to answer these questions in this post…
Contrary to what most people think, VW never actually made any “campervans” as such for the European marketplace. With the type 2, as far as I know, they basically made three derivatives; The Window van (minibus, or kombi), the panel van (no windows in the rear) and the pick up (both single cab and crew cab). These would then be shipped off to the various coachbuilders and conversion companies to create their own, bespoke versions of the bay window transporter, then sold onto the end user.
Some of the main conversion companies included Westfalia, Dormobile, ASI/Riviera, Devon, Danbury and Holdsworth, amongst others. They all had/have their differences but Westfalia have always generally been looked up to as one of the highest quality conversions available. One of the main differences, apart from the actual internal layouts, was that Westfalia were about the only one to use actual window vans as the donor vans. Most others choosing to buy the cheaper panel vans and cut holes in the sides, retro fitting the windows. This gives a certain look and is obviously not quite as good as having factory fit windows either (Westys usually also have the more luxurious, opening “louvered” side windows too, meaning you get more ventilation and a more comfortable experience).
Westfalia First Created VW campervans way back in ‘52, the first conversion being their “SO-32” conversion, based on a splitscreen and have been developing their ideas ever since, right up to the present day. Their converted campers then went on to be offered for sale within Volkswagen dealerships around Europe. They offered a “Tourist Delivery Option” at the time where you could go to Germany and test drive one, then have it delivered to your home. When the First Bay Window Vans started to roll out in ‘67, Westfalia introduced some new interior designs for them. After the initial conversion saw success, they went on to release some more complex interiors, some only available in certain countries like the European LHD “Helsinki” and “Berlin” models, then the “Campmobile” and “Continental”. The company itself was actually setup in 1844 and originally produced agricultural equipment
At the time of writing, both our vans are the “Continental” models. This was a design that manages to acheive so many things from a campervan, that conversion companies still struggle with to this day; A FUll width Rock n Roll bed, L shaped seating with a dynamic, folding table, a walk-through interior, plus all the mod-cons like a sink witth running water, a gas cooker, a wardrobe complete with tall mirror, a pop-top roof for standing space and an extra bed up there and plenty of storage. They even managed to build in a very useful roof-rack design up top too, accessible through the zip-up window at the back of the pop-top. Another great feature of these vans is the gas hob that folds up and hides away next to the wardrobe, meaning that when not in use it’s right out of the way and you can “walk-through” from the front of the cab to the rear.
One thing that amazes me is just how well these interiors have stood the test of time. Our vans are knocking on for 45 years old now and the interiors are pretty much as new, despite a lot of use over the years and this is the case with pretty much every other Westfalia interior I’ve seen. All credit to them really. Westfalia still convert campervans to this day, having released conversions for most of the modern VWs along the way and also other marks like Ford Transits etc too. They are also quite famous for their other products, like trailers and towbars too.
So hopefully you can see that we’ve made the right choice here for our vans, we’re fairly adamant that a full width bed is always the right place to start when looking for your ideal campervan, and if you’re looking at a Westfalia, then you probably can’t go far wrong!
Thanks for reading, as usual, any comments, questions or suggestions (corrections!?) gratefully received, there’s an opportunity at the bottom of the post
Image Credit: Pink Camper Image – Yahya S.