I thought the "pop-top camper" concept was the best compromise of the VW Westies, with the late Vanagon Westies fairly close. I DON'T want a mini motor home, ala the Rialta. I also want it for heavy duty, extended remote country camping. Retain the basic dual purpose use and still be able to fit into garages. I want to use it for day trips, moving the kids, then turn it into my hunting vehicle in the fall and then load it for 2 months to the Arctic Ocean. It needs to stay that versatile. There was an era in the '70s when half of the buses sold in Amercia were campers and demand was such that it supported a couple of aftermarket conversion companies.
Many of these items would have to be incorporated at the factory, not just Westfalia conversions. Please use a basic VW designed & manufactured LT van, NOT some damn Chrysler rebadge -- I wouldn't even consider one of them!
Starting with the Vanagon as a base idea . . .:
Optional engines including TDI. At least one “clean” or eco-friendly version.
4-wheel or all-wheel-drive option.
At least 5-speed MANUAL transmission; 6-speed preferred. A/T as an option, NOT required or standard.
Granny gear or dual range with limited slip and locking differentials unless auto engaging.
4 wheel ABS (on discs) standard & optional traction control.
Wheel & tire size (probably 16") that has great availability in standard pick-up truck lines that include all-terrain, snow & studdable ice. Never again the nightmare of Type II & Vanagon 14" wheels & tires. Not oversize or super low-profile.
Large fuel tank; optional auxiliary tank that has own pump and discharge (for filling other items or transferring).
Bumpers to be easily interchangeable with aftermarket HD, bumpers with fittings, etc.; basically bumpers to be a true bolt-on rather than integrated plastic.
Heavy undercarriage damage protection and good clean-ability to prevent rust from ice salt or the calcium chloride used on remote country dirt roads. (Minimize voids & dirt trapping areas.)
Major use of inorganic zinc, stainless steel, galvanizing or aluminized metal to prevent rust. However minimal use of plastics.
HD & high air intakes for dusty roads. Dirt pre-trap ala Vanagon Syncro. Cabin air filter.
Decent, working A/C with front & rear ducting.
Interior to be a vinyl and HD cloth that is dirt resistant and can be cleaned on the road with 409 & a paper towel. Also colors that don’t show dirt. The pale gray velour of the late Vanagons was dumb for a camper.
HD rubber flooring; any carpet to be removable to allow use of the rubber mats underneath; cabin may be linoleum.
Good insulation; space-age 'survival blanket' technology for canvas top and under mattress.
Full instrumentation including voltmeter, oil pressue, oil temp; turbo boost & exhaust temp on turbo models.
Inside/outside thermometer, compass. Battery condition gauges for each.
Maximize use of LED or fluorescent cabin lighting to minimize battery drain.
Dual, isolated batteries. Built-in recharge to both available when plugged into AC shore power. DC to AC inverter as an option.
Two or more DC power plugs for 12v accessories. At least one in cabin.
Factory mount adaptors for awning &/or tent.
Optional exterior lighting including driving AND fog lights, work & cargo area lights, rear fog tail light.
Louvers or jalousie windows so they can be opened in rain.
Pop top to have side vents under fiberglass so can be opened in rain ala Bay Window OE.
Small luggage rack not part of pop-top as late Bay WIndow & Vanagon; some items should not be carried in vehicle so one piece pop-top as in factory Eurovans not acceptable.
Easy to access jack and jack-stand points for shop work.
Retain 3-way fridge & LP stove. LP level gauge or indicator.
Aux. heat. From vehicle fuel tank or LP. If LP, req’s larger tank.
If skylight, use std. RV size and offer options such as exhaust fan.
High-efficiency glass or tinting to reduce interior heat.
I was quite satisfied with the basic Vanagon cabinet layout. Felt fridge, sink & LP stove were adequate. I missed the old Bay Window P27 stool/trash can container and would like securing points for a port-potti.
Would like remote control radio/sound system so it can be controlled from cabin. New vehicles probably need to be satellite radio ready.
Optional arrangements for owner cell phone, computer and GPS installation. Perhaps harnesses and mount points for external antenna, hands free.
Optional arrangements for owner solar cell installation. Harness to feed battery charging & 12v aux. power equipment.
Optional arrangements for owner tow hitch installation. Frame mount points for standard aftermarket hitch and trailer harness.
Optional external mount of spare gas cans, tire and bike racks.
Optional head, tail-light (all around) & grill guards; bug deflector.
Optional 5th seat fittings.
Optional road service tool kit to supplement much better basic tool kit than current models. Similar kits from the '50s - 60's that had a basic tool box & tools with space to add the factory tools (usually just wrench, screwdriver & hub-cap puller.) Beetle had one in round container that fit into spare tire; buses had a metal box with trays.
Many of these items could be sold as dealer items through the Autobahn accessory line.
Last edited by Capt. Mike; 12-14-2008 at 05:00 AM.