The classic VW campervans are the symbol of cool!
They first appeared shortly after WWII as Germany started the road to recovery, beginning as nothing more than ‘transporters’, helping shift goods around towns and villages. Little did people know back then that the van would become an icon for the hippy-trippy days of psychedelia and surfing.
Their appeal continues to this day, more than 70 years since they first rolled off the production line.
In this gallery we’ve got some real beauties that we’ve photographed on our travels, one of which has been owned by the same person for almost 50 years! But just before we get to the gallery, let’s ask a few important questions about the classic V-Dub campervans…
- Why are Volkswagen campervans called T1 and T2?
- Why do we love the classic VW campervans so much?
- How much do classic VW campervans cost?
- Are classic VW campervans reliable?
- What are the essential spares you should always carry in a VW camper?
- Are VW campervans worth the money?
- Our gallery of classic Volkswagen T1 and T2 campervans
- Classic campervan #1 – seen at Woolpit Car Boot Sale
- Classic campervan #2 – VW T2 seen at Bawdsey
- Classic campervans #3 and #4 – seen at Shotley Gate
- Classic campervan #5 – a 1967 split-windscreen!
- Classic campervan #6 – on the Christmas Lights Cruise
- Classic campervan #7 – seen in Stowmarket
- Classic campervan #8 – at Landguard Point, Felixstowe
- Classic campervan #9 – on the Suffolk coast at Dunwich
- Classic campervan #10 – another VW at Dunwich
- Classic campervan # 11 – a ‘rat-look’ Bay Window
- Classic campervan #12 – at Alive and V-Dubbing Festival
- Classic campervan #13 – our second T1 Splitty
- Classic campervan #14 – 1970s VW orange!
- Classic campervan #15 – at Suffolk Bugrs auto jumble
- Classic campervan #16 – eine Deutsche Post wagen?
- Classic campervan #17 – 20 years in the same family
- Classic campervan #18 – a 1975 Bay
- Classic campervan #19 – guess the year!
- Classic campervan #20 – a 1957 Splitty
Please note: If you’re serious about buying an old V-Dub make sure you check out our page about what you need to look out for on older motorhomers and campervans
Why are Volkswagen campervans called T1 and T2?
Back in 1938 when Adolf Hitler commissioned the production of a ‘people’s car’, the Beetle was known simply as the Type 1. After the war, allied engineers were put in charge of the VW factory in Wolfsburg and it soon became clear that a larger vehicle was needed to transport goods.
It was Dutch car dealer, Ben Pon, who drew the first basic design of the transporter in April 1947. Along with the Beetle, this simple design would go on to transform not only VW but help get Germany back on its feet.
These first vans were referred to as Type 2s (to distinguish them from the Type 1/ Beetle cars). They were used mainly as delivery vehicles, ambulances, fire engines, ice-cream vans, and the like. The idea of ‘camper van’ didn’t exist until later.
When it comes to the vans themselves we refer to them as T1, T2, and so on, right up to the VW T6 of today. On this page we’re focusing on the first two generations, the T1 and T2.
A T1 campervan has a ‘split’ front windscreen and is known as a ‘Splitty’ (sometimes spelt ‘Splittie’). They were produced for almost 18 years, from 1949 to 1967, first at the Wolfsburg factory then, from 1956, at a brand new factory in Hanover.
As the campervan craze took hold in the 1960s, the T2 came along. T2 campervans have a curved front windscreen and are known as ‘Bay Windows’ or just ‘Bays’. They were made from 1967 to 1979 (though production continued right up till 2013 in Brazil, only finishing because of the introduction of new safety regulations).
You can see the differences in the pictures below…
Why do we love the classic VW campervans so much?
What exactly is it about these old classic campers that make them enduringly appealing? Why, after all these years, do we still see so many of them on the road?
Perhaps one of the appealing things about the VW camper is that it harks back to a time when life was simpler. To simple design and simple mechanics that, with a little know-how, you could fix yourself rather than wait by the road side for a mechanic with an ‘electronic diagnostics kit’.
You won’t need one of those with a T1 or T2, that’s for certain!
Maybe the classic campervan is the ultimate symbol of freedom (at least in the world of motoring). Freedom from the 9 to 5, freedom from ‘the system’, freedom from our everyday obligations. It’s what we all want, surely?
That sense of freedom is exactly what we feel in our VW T4 Cree every time we turn the key. But it does seem that it is the early campers that encapsulate this sentiment, more than any other van or RV.
But how much is this sense of freedom going to cost?
How much do classic VW campervans cost?
If you are thinking of buying a classic VW campervan you’ve got to be prepared to spend around £15,000 for the Bay Windows (T2s) in good condition. Immaculate examples sell for more.
The T1 ‘Splitties’ can be double the price of T2s. Splitties are rare and they are the ones the VW purists want, like classic Beetles.
It all depends on condition of course, but it’s fair to say that prices have continued to rise over the last few years and we don’t see this changing anytime soon.
See the purchase of a classic VW campervan as an investment. Sure, you’ll have the usual running costs and repairs but the vehicle’s value will probably continue to rise. And you’ll have loads of fun along the way!
But like buying any classic vehicle, do your homework. Research online to get an idea of prices (as we point out in our ebook) and make all the proper checks before parting with your cash.
Are classic VW campervans reliable?
The classic VW campervans have fairly basic mechanics and these engines have proved themselves to be reliable over decades. Simple is always best in our book. But because these vans are old they will go wrong at times, no matter how often the engine has been reconditioned or had parts replaced. That’s only natural.
And even though the engines themselves are basic (unlike most modern cars with their computer chips) we say leave things alone unless you know what you’re doing. Take a mechanic with you if you’re going to view one of these classic VW campers.
Surviving T2s are often in better condition than the T1s, have slightly more interior space, are easier to handle, and have more engine power. They are also easier to maintain and source parts for.
Despite VW being renowned for reliability, these older campervans do break down but they are fairly easy to fix by yourself or a roadside rescue-mechanic – as long as you’ve got the spare parts with you. (Any breakdown service you belong to is unlikely to carry spares for a classic camper!)
What are the essential spares you should always carry in a VW camper?
If you do go on to buy a T1 or T2, it’s a good idea to carry a well-stocked toolkit and basic spares if you’re planning longer road trips.
Along with a full set of spanners, sockets, allen keys, spare bolts, washers, cable ties, and jubilee clips, these are the essential spares we recommend you carry at all times in your classic VW campervan…
- Fan belt
- Accelerator cable
- Clutch cable
- Brake fluid
- Spark plugs
- Jack and wheel brace
- Light bulbs and fuses
- Wiper blades
- Full engine gasket set
Are VW campervans worth the money?
As we said earlier, buying any classic vehicle should be seen as an investment. The price of campers are no different and they should continue to rise in value.
People often ask, ‘why are classic VW campervans so expensive?’ or ‘are they worth the money?’
We would answer, ‘expensive compared to what?’ Sure they might be more expensive than say, a Ford Transit camper or a Mazda Bongo but which is going to hold the price best? Surely the VW.
And even the price of a classic T1 Splitty is nowhere near the price of new campervans and motorhomes which you might have to pay over £80,000 for!
It’s all about figuring out what type of van you want and what you want to use it for. If you want that classic look and don’t mind a smaller van, you can’t go far wrong with a V-Dub. But if you want something bigger go for a motorhome.
If it’s a VW you’ve got your heart set on, let’s whet your appetite with some of the pictures we’ve taken whilst on our travels…
Our gallery of classic Volkswagen T1 and T2 campervans
Classic campervan #1 – seen at Woolpit Car Boot Sale
Look at the shine on this VW ‘Bay Window’!
This is a K reg (1972) classic campervan and you won’t find a much better example than this anywhere. We simply had to stop and take a picture. We love the roof rack. What style!
The owners must have been busy at the ‘boot sale so we weren’t able to find out anything about the van. All we can add is that it celebrates its 50th birthday in 2022 and by the looks of her, she’s got many more birthdays to come!
Price wise, T2s in this condition will set you back around £15,000, if not more.
Classic campervan #2 – VW T2 seen at Bawdsey
Although nowhere near as shiny as van #1, this is another lovely example of a T2 campervan and you’d still expect to pay in excess of £10,000, perhaps as much as £12,000.
Notice how this one has the exact same pop-top roof as van #1, suggesting that both vans might have been made by the same company.
This is an L reg (1973) and goes by the name of Boris. (There is bunting proudly displaying his name in the back window).
We were intrigued by the ‘I love Kenya’ sticker and wondered if this elder of the tribe has made some epic road trips. If he’s your van, we’d love to find out more about his adventures! Contact us here.
Classic campervans #3 and #4 – seen at Shotley Gate
On a trip to Shotley, we’d been for a walk and when we returned were delighted to see these two beauties parked up next to our Cree. It was like a little VW convention for an hour or so!
Gav got speaking to the owners, Jackie (who owns the blue van called Flump) and Shelley (owner of the green ‘un), who told him they did the NC500 three years ago at an average 24 miles per gallon. Yes, the classic VW campervans are not that economical, even though they are small.
Next September we hope to see them both when we do the VW charity-raising parade ‘Run the Ring‘ around the M25.
Classic campervan #5 – a 1967 split-windscreen!
This was the first ‘Splitty’ we ever saw.
This classic VW T1 campervan first hit the road way back in 1967 (E reg). Unlike many of the classic V-dubs which have had suspension modifications, this beauty is all original and we think she looks fab.
And get this…
Owner, Chris, bought this van when he was a student in London in 1976…for £100!
It was the first thing he ever really owned and, in Chris’s own words, the van has ‘become part of my psyche’.
The full story about Chris’s classic split-screen VW campervan – including some brill photos – can be found on the Adrian Flux ‘Forever Cars’ website. It’s a must read article!
Classic campervan #6 – on the Christmas Lights Cruise
Each year Suffolk Bugrs arrange a charity run from Ipswich to Felixstowe. Up to 100 different V-Dubbers make their way along the A14 before lining up along the seafront for fish and chips.
Naomi and Andrew – owners of the immaculate K reg (1972) red T2 above – told Gav her name is Poppy. Fantastically decorated for Christmas, we must say!
Naomi actually runs Suffolk Bugrs, so get in touch with her if you’d like to join the club. And the brown VW T3 – also in really good nick – was recently purchased for £6000 by a young chap who plans to use it as a mobile shop at festivals, selling T-shirts and the like.
Brilliant idea and we wish you good luck with that.
Classic campervan #7 – seen in Stowmarket
On a walk through our home town Gav stumbled upon this classic 1973 VW T2 ‘Bay Window’ parked in a little car park.
It’s in great condition with interesting green bucket seats inside.
We wondered if the VW logo has been lost or left off on purpose? Remember those crazy days when VW signs went missing from cars? Did vans suffer the same fate? Something to do with the Beastie Boys, if memory serves us correctly.
Looks like VW has had the last laugh, far outliving those second-rate rappers!
Classic campervan #8 – at Landguard Point, Felixstowe
Wow, what a beauty!
Spotted at Landguard Point in Felixstowe, this classic VW is a 1972 K-reg T2 all the way from California.
Owner, Simon, told us he’d imported her several years ago already in this immaculate condition. Must be the West Coast weather! He puts her away every winter and she comes out again in May just in time for the annual Ipswich to Felixstowe Classic Vehicle Rally.
We love the little windows on the sides of the roof and the wheels with the circular ventilation holes – a new thing in ’72. And look at the roof itself! We’ve not seen another T2 like this.
Perhaps it was made by Spirit Campers in California, as shown in this YouTube vid of a 1975 model with almost identical styling.
It was a delight to chat with you, Simon, and we’d love to know more about the van. Hopefully we’ll see you at the rally!
Classic campervan #9 – on the Suffolk coast at Dunwich
It wasn’t easy to get the best view of this classic VW camper and by the time the car park had cleared a bit she had up and left. It might not be the best pic but she still deserves a place in our gallery.
She’s a 1970 H reg model and is in immaculate condition. Whoever has done the respray has done a mighty fine job. Looks like there is a pop-up roof as well, though we didn’t get to see this open up. And the suspension has been lowered but not ridiculously so.
Sounded lovely when she drove off and we’d love to have the chance to take a better pic next time.
Classic campervan #10 – another VW at Dunwich
At the other end of the car park in Dunwich was yet another T2. It really was like a VW Fest as we snapped away for a couple of hours as vans came and went.
Like the one above, this T2 ‘bay window’ looks superb and also has a pop-top roof but there’s no lowered suspension here.
She’s an R-reg, making her a 1977 model, and we reckon she’ll be on the road for several more decades. If she’s your van we’d love to hear more about her. Contact us here.
Classic campervan # 11 – a ‘rat-look’ Bay Window
Another oldie spotted in our home town. Indeed, we often go past this one, parked up on the roadside. It seems to be having some repairs done to its paintwork.
A true 1971/72 vintage, we love this little van even in its current condition. Full of character and charm.
We wonder if it’ll be fully restored? Perhaps we’ll have ‘before and after’ pictures? We’ll keep you posted.
Classic campervan #12 – at Alive and V-Dubbing Festival
We go to Alive and V Dubbing at Haughley Park near Stowmarket most years and there’s always a great mix of all things VW, from classic Beetles and campers, right through to things like this T2 Red Cross ambulance or, as they say in Deutschland, Krankenwagon.
S-reg makes her a 1978 model and she is immaculate inside and out.
If you go to Alive and V-Dubbing you’re sure to see her there; we’ve seen her every time we’ve attended.
Classic campervan #13 – our second T1 Splitty
That’s Gav son, Isaac, standing next to this gorgeous D-reg (1966) Splitty.
We took this pic at Bures Music Festival a few years ago and Gav was given a good tour of the van. She’s as stunning inside as she is out and in this condition you’d have to pay mega bucks for a Splitty like this, in excess of £25,000.
The paint job and chrome is in tip-top condition and it’s obvious that this van has had a superb restoration and is well looked after.
Classic campervan #14 – 1970s VW orange!
We simply had to find an orange camper for this collection!
This Bay Window was photographed at Dunwich up by the cliffs. It’s an R-reg (1977) and is in really lovely condition. We like the white strips on the wheels and the chrome plated spare wheel housing.
A really lovely van and we only wished we could have gotten a better picture to show how shiny it was.
Classic campervan #15 – at Suffolk Bugrs auto jumble
Gav bought a 1992 tax disc for our van from a guy selling such things on his stall at the Suffolk Bugrs auto jumble in Ipswich.
What he really wanted was this gorgeous blue VW bus! This is a K-reg (1973) model and her condition is near-original, according to the owner.
With all those stickers in the window, it looks like she’s well-travelled and, by the looks of her, is set to keep going for years to come.
Classic campervan #16 – eine Deutsche Post wagen?
Before the camper craze took hold, this is what most of these VW vans looked like; a plain and simple panel van, made for load lugging.
This is the exact colour of the German postal vans and back in the 50s and 60s many of these classic Volkswagen vans would have been stuffed full of letters and parcels ready for delivery every day.
With this example, we weren’t sure if it was uneven ground that made this van look lower at the front or if it was meant to look like this. Certainly seemed like the suspension had been lowered at the front (or heightened at the rear).
We love the wheels, the ‘sleepy eye headlights’, the roof rack and what about that massive sun visor on the windscreen? Brill.
She’s an L-reg (1973) model and looks like lots of fun.
Classic campervan #17 – 20 years in the same family
Another L-reg beauty at the auto-jumble! We were having a field day!
The owners told us this van had been theirs for 20+ years and they had been all over the UK in it.
Fantastic paint job and the inside looks just as good.
This classic VW campervan looks set for many more adventures in the years to come.
Classic campervan #18 – a 1975 Bay
And one more from the auto jumble, this time a 1975 N-reg Bay.
Lovely shade of green and look at the steel wheels. Finishes it off a treat.
You can see clearly that this campervan has a ‘pop top’ so you can stand up inside. Something worth bearing in mind if you want to be able to stand up straight in your van.
Really lovely condition.
Classic campervan #19 – guess the year!
Another Bay Window with a pop-top roof and another stunner!
Very similar to van #1 – same colour, same roof rack – but most definitely a different van.
Gav’s son took this picture and although we can’t see the full plate, we know it was made after the ‘facelift’ that took place in 1973. How do we know? Well, earlier models had the indicators below the headlights. From ’73 onwards they were positioned either side of the grill.
Looks absolutely lovely and we want her!
Classic campervan #20 – a 1957 Splitty
Whilst strolling along the prom at Felixstowe we spotted this wonderful Splitty. And what a van for #20 in this VW gallery!
Gav got speaking to the owner, Joe, who had paid £19K for it. (You need big money for these old Splitty’s!)
This is a 1957 model and is the oldest one in our gallery (so far). The suspension has been lowered, and we love the yellow headlights and retro roof rack. And look at those wheels!
Joe told us he was going to keep the ‘rat’ look even though this van’s days of being a TV repair vehicle were well and truly over.
We hope you’ve enjoyed browsing through our classic VW campervan pictures. There sure are some beauties about.
If you have a T1 or T2 camper and would like it featured in this gallery just email us a picture or two and some info about the van. We’d love to add it to this page!
Check out our other VW galleries…
So, are you going to take the plunge? If you’re looking for an older vehicle – V-Dub or anything else – remember to read our article about 13 main problems you need to check before buying an older campervan or motorhome.
And to help you with researching and getting a better deal take a look at what’s in our new ebook.
After looking at all these lovely vans, you might be interested in becoming a member of the Volkswagen Owners’ Club of Great Britain or, if you’re based in Suffolk like us, how about The Suffolk Bugrs?
In the US, have a look at the Vintage Volkswagen Club of America.
There are also many different VW owners’ clubs listed on Just Kampers which is well worth checking out.