Iconic Camper VW Combi. A Van that Moved People for 63 Years

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When people think of living out of their car, this is often what comes to mind. A refined step above the original Volkswagen bus, newer models of the Westfalia-equipped bus came complete with a pop-up tent, modern air conditioning, power steering, and an engine that has more horsepower.

There is something undeniably exhilarating about crossing the globe for camping funs, a car that can be both comfortably lived out of and driven at the same time. Vehicles that offer many of the amenities of home are oftentimes in short supply these days, especially with the increased popularity of the VW Combi in recent years. So can living out of one’s car really be considered camping? Consensus around the Cheat Sheet office says no, not really. You got to have a tent to technically be camping in our book. But when the mercury suddenly hits below zero, that heated interior sure looks fantastic and makes sense to us.

So what really makes a car livable, and why would anyone opt to live out of a car in the first place? Not everyone has the financial means to own a car and a house, so just having a car and a P.O. Box is oftentimes all that the underemployed really require. There also are the people who suffer from automotive wanderlust, the uncontrollable urge to explore the world from behind the wheel of a particular vehicle. And finally, there are the weekend warriors, people who want to get out into nature but don’t want to deal with all of the headaches associated with lugging 20 tons of camping gear with them everywhere they go.

There will be no pitching of tents under the setting sun here today. Convenience is key: We want to build our camp around us and take it everywhere we go, pre-assembled. So do we recommend living out of one of these vehicles permanently? Personally I would not recommend it, but if a sudden desire to sell all your belongings, along with your house, sounds like a solid choice, we are not going to stop you. Just please be sure to take one of these following vehicles into consideration before heading out onto the open road in a junk.

These clever campers were produced from the early 1950s all the way up until 2003, 63 yrs of VW Combi and they are one of the most long-lasting staples of vagabond culture in the world. Clever amenities included a built-in sink, laminated folding tables, attachable awnings and side tents, a camping stove, and a child sleeping cot on the driver’s side of the cab. This house on wheels was especially popular among hippies, and many a child was surely conceived in one of these German-engineered machines.

For 63 years, it has carried families of hippies, hauled surfers in search of killer waves and served as a workhorse across many developing countries. But, the Volkswagen Kombi’s epic journey reached the end of the road 13 yrs ago. The iconic vehicle succumbed to environmental legislation, meaning it will no longer be produce in Brazil, or anywhere else in the world. It is the camping spirit that I remembered the once famous combi. It is good to note that Volkswagen unveiled a new version of the camper van at the 2011 Geneva Motor show, but it never went into production. I have no idea why or when we can expect a comeback.

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