VW Campervan Conversion Types

Discussion in 'Bay Tech Clinic' started by Deluxe, May 11, 2009.

  1. Deluxe

    Deluxe Active Member

    Messages:
    1,301
    Location:
    NSW
    I found a great article in Wheels Mag (1978 edition) that I bought off ebay. Threw some more light on my vehicle. I had been led to believe that Swagman conversions only came with fibreglass interiors - I now know that is not the case.

    The article covers other vehicles as well but I tried to edit it down to just the VW relevant stuff...I'm a slow typer so it took me soooo long but enjoy the read!

    Your Home Away From Home

    When Wheels last surveyed the campervan scene, in 1976, you could buy a small model such as Mazda’s F1000 new, reasonably equipped and ready to roll for less than $5000.

    Popular large models cost from about $7000 to $9000, fully rigged and on the road.
    Times change and so do prices. Today, with rego and insurance included you wouldn’t get much back from $6500 for a fully equipped Mazda F1000.

    Since that earlier survey, van prices have increased sharply. Conversion costs have climbed too.

    The steep price hikes are undoubtedly one of the main reasons why ’77 sales couldn’t exactly be classed as buoyant. But some observers believed the campervan industry was due for a levelling-off period anyway, regardless of the price rises. It would have been a bit to expect the thriving growth of recent years to continue indefinitely.

    Still, as Confucius said from his cyclone-proof shelter, it’s an ill wind that blows no good. And the slowing of campervan sales hasn’t been all bad for makers and buyers. It has encouraged buyers to shop around even more carefully than before to compare prices and features. It has also meant that makers have trimmed fat from their operations (to help contain prices as much as possible), getting production on more efficient footings. It hasn’t stopped new conversions being introduced and older ones being revised, with more rationalisation between the floorpans and furniture used for different vehicles.

    The keen would-be campervanner needn’t necessarily fork out a bundle for a brand new, fully converted unit. Most camper companies will fit their conversions to your existing van. Though the accompanying price table only lists conversions for current models, some earlier (cheaper) models are still popular bases for the job; Toyota Hiace and Commuter for example, and Volkswagens of course, remain high on the list of campervanner’s favourites.

    There’s also yet another option open to the handyman would-be campervanner looking for other ways to save. In that case do-it-yourself furniture fitting is an answer. The idea is that you trundle the van along to your local friendly conversion specialist and have the pop-up (or high-top) roof fitted. For that the price is about $650 to $825 depending on maker and model. You then fit some, or all factory-furniture, or make your own.

    And so to the survey of what’s available. While it’s beyond our scope to include every conversion from every converter, the guide covers most popular models from major firms, main standard features and prices.

    Dormobile
    Head office: Dormobile Australia Pty Ltd, 9 Wiluna St, Fyshwick, ACT, 2609
    Dormobile conversions are produced for the VW, Bedford and Ford Transit vans. Complete and partial conversions on new and used vans are available direct from Dormobile.

    The Dormobile conversion is readily identified in the crowd because instead of being raised vertically as usual, the roof is hinged along the offside and tilts up to add a relatively big area above the normal roofline. The fibreglass roof has 2 fixed windows and two hatches. With the roof up there’s more than 2.4 m (8ft) headroom. Two folding single bunks are the upper berths.

    The three conversions share similar features which include a three-way fridge, plastic sink and drainage board with water foot-pumped from a 21-litre plastic jerrycan in the cupboard, a two-burner grill, fluorescent light, and roof-up warning light. Tow-bar, cabin bunk and electric water pump are among the many options available.

    The fully lined roof costs about $885 and the van can then be left empty for commercial purposes or have furniture added for campervanning.

    Land Cruisers
    Head office: Land Cruisers Conversions Pty Ltd, 33 Alleyne St, Chatswood, NSW 2067.

    Land Cruisers don’t quote specific prices for its conversions but because they range from $1800-$3000 depending on layout, furniture and features. A spokesman said that most Land Cruisers conversions have custom features, so it’s rare for any two to have the same design and price.

    Equipment and features shared by most LC conversions include 240v/12v/gas fridge, two-burner griller or a stovette with oven and two burner top, stainless steel sink, Melanime-finished furniture and solar insulated curtain. A selection of furniture is available for fit-it-yourself van projects.

    Land Cruisers concentrates on the popular vans including VW’s.

    Sopru
    Head office: E. Sopru and Co, 6-22 Antoine St, Rydalmere, NSW 2116. Branches in Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane.

    Sopru’s best known conversions are the Campmobile Volkaswagens, with new complete models marketed through VW dealers.

    For the VW, Sopru’s range begins with a Handyman conversion, consisting of extending roof and other minor parts for about $699. There are three complete conversions – Basic, Traveller and Deluxe. The £1825 Basic features include table, rear seat-bed, side cupboard, wardrobe, stainless sink, hand pump, fluorescent light, kangaroo bar with covered spare wheel and under-floor 45-litre water tank. No gas, fridge and cooker. Those items are added in the £2697 Traveller version which also has an additional utility seat, retractable side step and roof rack. The £2960 Deluxe model has all those features plus 240v hot plate and power point, extra lighting, deluxe upholstery and a folding exterior table.

    Sunliner
    Head office: Swagman Conversions 150 Frances St, Lidcombe, NSW 2141 (not sure if this is a print error)

    Sunliner campers are made by Hunter Conversions to suit Nissan E20, Bedford CFS, Toyota Hiace, Mazda F1000 and Volkswagen.

    Hunter doesn’t list standard prices for the conversions. Depending on the vehicle, Sunliner conversions vary from $2000-3500. Standard features include low-profile roof , fibreglass roof, Melanime-finish cabinets, stainless steel sink, galvanised under-floor water-tank, fluorescent lights, tinted side windows, two-burner cooker and 12v/240v/ gas fridge.

    Swagman
    Head office: Swagman Conversions 150 Frances St, Lidcombe, NSW 2141

    One of the most prolific producers of van conversions , Swagman makes fibreglass and wood furniture, offering either or both depending on the vehicle.

    There are four varieties of Swagman Volkswagens: Deluxe and standard fibreglass at about $2850 and $2650 respectively, and the equivalents in timber for about $2795 and $2545. The Deluxe features are similar to the Nissan (roof rack, fluorescent light, filtered roof vent, shade awning, upper berth boards and mattress, indoor/outdoor table, two-burner cooker, 12v/240v/gas fridge, 45 litre fibreglass under-floor water tank, 240v double power point & vinyl floor), but the standard editions have more deletions including the under-floor water tank, fly-screened centre window and 240v power point.

    Trakka
    Head office: Trakka-Bout Sales (NSW) Pty Ltd, 116 Military Rd, Neutral Bay, NSW 2089.

    Trakka’s van conversions revolve around Volkswagen, Nissan E20 and Toyota Hiace with four basic floorplan layouts for each. The VW conversion averages about $2700 according to Trakka, but there is no list price as such because you start with the low-profile pop-top roof at about $640, then choose your floorplan, and from there the price depends on how much furniture or features you order. You’re limited only by your imagination and budget because the range of options is pretty big.
     
  2. Deluxe

    Deluxe Active Member

    Messages:
    1,301
    Location:
    NSW
    These old mags are great if you're into a bit of history on VW's! Just finished flicking through and there are so many adverts to do with Kombi's and conversions...
     
  3. Nigel

    Nigel Member

    Messages:
    619
    Location:
    Canvey Island, Essex, UK
    Australian VW campervan conversions

    I didn't know Dormobile campervans were made in Australia; presumably under license to the parent British company. I cannot recall any British Dormobile conversions on Ford Transit vans, but there were certainly some based upon the long-wheelbase Landrover 109; Carawagon International being the only other British campervan convertor of this base vehicle

    We didn't get Nissan E20 (aka Datsun E20) vans in Great Britain, but in early-1980, I drove a hired Datsun E20 high-top campervan, in South Africa.
     
  4. emby

    emby Active Member

    Messages:
    2,018
    Location:
    Wights Mountain, QLD
    Friends of our family, from Liverpool, had the dormobile conversion on a transit (a shiny yellow one) way back in about 1976. At the time I looked on with envy.....but now I know that the kombi is the only realy true camper.
     
  5. Nigel

    Nigel Member

    Messages:
    619
    Location:
    Canvey Island, Essex, UK
    Campervan conversions

    As each year passes, I learn of additional 1968~79 VW Type 2 campervan conversions, of which I was previously unaware, including some British ones! :eek:
     
  6. syncro

    syncro Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,425
    Location:
    Southern Highlands
    I've been to 4 of those factories.:lol:

    Mods, can we move this, rename "Camper Converters" and sticky.
     
  7. notch65s

    notch65s New Member

    Messages:
    25
    Location:
    melbourne
    i think we should make get pictures of all models of campers so we can all look at the designs and see the differences... ?
     
  8. Deluxe

    Deluxe Active Member

    Messages:
    1,301
    Location:
    NSW
    I'll kick it off. Mine has components from 2 of the companies listed, Swagman and Land Cruisers....

    Pop-top is Swagman....but windows were cut by Land Cruisers

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Majority of the fitout is Swagman (I think)...

    [​IMG]

    but I have a receipt to say that Land Cruiser fitted the sink, watertank and rear overhead shelf (as well as that wheelcover which I threw out because I thought it was some piece of modern crap that someone had chucked on a couple of years ago - oops!)

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Nigel

    Nigel Member

    Messages:
    619
    Location:
    Canvey Island, Essex, UK
    Swagman cum Land Cruiser campeervan conversion

    Looking at the front view, with the RHD windscreen wipers, the curved section below the windscreen, seems to retain the shaped portions with blanking-grommet-filled holes, for the missing, normal LHD pattern windscreen wipers. Are there also shaped portions in the panel, for the RHD windscreen wipers?

    [​IMG]

    The headlamp wire-mesh stone guards also look quite neat. Are they stainless steel or chromium-plated mild steel?

    If one can obtain some with a well designed fitting and good corrosion resistance, I would like to obtain some for my British specification, 1973 VW "1600" Type 2 Kombi, Westfalia Continental campervan, modified for retro-fitment of 1974~79 VW type 2, flat-lensed headlamp units.

    That's an interesting looking rear-mounted, kangaroo bar, in case one strikes a kangaroo or other large animal, whilst reversing at high speed!?! ;) Or could it be some sort of bicycle carrier?

    [​IMG]
     
  10. syncro

    syncro Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,425
    Location:
    Southern Highlands
    Kangaroos can run very fast and can sneak up on a Kombi while it is going up a steep hill. They have a very good sense of smell and are attracted to the food carried in a camper. Their hind legs are extremely strong and have been known to smash the rear lights as they think that they are eyes.

    [​IMG]

    I had to kill this one with my bare hands as it wouldn't let me back into my van.
     
  11. melissa

    melissa Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,171
    Location:
    Newcastle NSW
    Phill!!! :lol:

    You forgot to mention the barb in the tail that can poison and kill! ;)



    Nigel, that rear bar is just an extension on the towbar. It would also serve to protect the rear bumper and tail lights from little old ladies that like to "bump park" in shopping centres.
     
  12. syncro

    syncro Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,425
    Location:
    Southern Highlands
    Whatever you do don't mention the drop bears!
     
  13. BrianK

    BrianK Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,118
    Location:
    Mount Gambier, SA
    Love the drop bears, i think they are extinct , :lol: dont see them any more.
     
  14. syncro

    syncro Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,425
    Location:
    Southern Highlands
    The problem is that due to not having any teeth, they cannot defend themselves against feral cats,
     
  15. melissa

    melissa Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,171
    Location:
    Newcastle NSW
    Renamed and stuck but not sure where to move it to.
     
  16. Deluxe

    Deluxe Active Member

    Messages:
    1,301
    Location:
    NSW
    I believe that there are shaped portions for both LHD and RHD windscreen wipers. It's defo a RHD model and always has been so maybe all of the Aussie ones were constructed using an interchangable blank??

    The stoneguards have no rust so I am guessing that they are stainless steel - they came with the vehicle. Have seen them fetching a couple of hundred bucks on ebay...sorry I can't be of more help

    I had that problem when posting it as was going to put it in the T2 section...
     
  17. Nigel

    Nigel Member

    Messages:
    619
    Location:
    Canvey Island, Essex, UK
    Headlamp stone guards & RHD windscreen wipers

     
  18. jon ward

    jon ward Active Member

    Messages:
    5,787
    Location:
    Travelling Australia
    Is this close enough?

    [​IMG]
     
  19. syncro

    syncro Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,425
    Location:
    Southern Highlands
    The wipers are an Australian ADR regulation. This is one of the reasons that we don't have any pre '90 Golf 2s here.
     
  20. Nigel

    Nigel Member

    Messages:
    619
    Location:
    Canvey Island, Essex, UK
    Australian, 1968~79 VW Type 2, RHD windscreen wipers

    Thank you Jon for your efforts. :)

    Regretably, I cannot discern from the above picture, whether or not there is a shaped profile, around the RHD windscreen-wiper spindle.

    The ideal picture(s) would zoom-in to the region of the RHD windscreen-wiper spindle, windscreen-washer jet-housing & redundant LHD windscreen-wiper spindle-hole, on one side only, with directional lighting to create contrast shadowing, in the region of any shaped profile. A tall order perhaps!?! :umm: :eek:

    P.S.

    Is your 1973~79 VW Type 2, equipped by any chance, with North American specification, front direction-indicator lamp units, having two bulb holders; one for a twin-filament 21/5W, BA15d direction-indicator cum side-light bulb, and the other, for a single-filament 5W, BA9s side-marker light bulb?
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2009

Share This Page