The Volkswagen Campervan is one of the most iconic vehicles on the road, and one of the most desirable to own too. We caught up with Heritage customer, TV sound technician, and Bay Window driver Caroline Harris, who has been living the Campervan dream for 25 years!
Whilst some would wish for a ‘pampered camper’ to only use on sunny weekends, Caroline well and truly keeps it real, using hers daily as her only car. “I’ve only ever owned two cars” Caroline tells me “This and a Suzuki SJ410 Jeep. The Jeep was great, but being a soft top it wasn’t at all secure, so when you got out, you had to take everything with you!”
Camper vans can’t talk, but Caroline has plenty of stories to share with us about their adventures. She brought along a selection of snaps to show us before it was repainted. “This new green is a custom colour, it’s actually colour matched to a house opposite mine in Brighton” she explains “unfortunately that becomes a real pain when trying to paint bits again, and it looks like a Brighton Taxi too!”
“I had it restored 9 years ago by a so called specialist in Somerset. Sadly the only job they did well was the paint” Caroline tells me. “They gave poor advice, sold me a brand new 1600cc engine rather than attempting to fix the old one and then didn’t even bother to bolt the seat down or connect the brakes, before letting me collect it and drive it away. It could have all ended terribly”.
Doug to the rescue
Caroline relocated to Sussex, and fortunately stumbled across Doug Harwood of Dougs VW Werks, and took her beloved bus to him to sort out. “Nothing was too much trouble, Doug took time to go through it all with me, and eventually we got her back up and working”.
The original Devon interior was recreated in oak for Caroline by JedSi Interiors. “It all works perfectly, except the wardrobe by the tailgate, which I later realised opened the wrong way to get your clothes out of, while still remaining inside the bus. It makes getting dressed in the morning a bit of a game.”
Caroline’s bus understandably has a real homely feeling, as it’s been decorated and adorned with trinkets and furnishings for the past 25 years. “The cushions in the back were a birthday gift from a friend” Caroline tells me.
Time to say goodbye?
Caroline is now working freelance after being made redundant and is facing a very crucial decision. “I need something reliable, that I can just jump in and go, plus I’m not sure I want to spend the money restoring this again” she says. I try to convince Caroline she needs two cars… a small modern run around, and her classic camper van, but I appreciate that’s not ideal when parking spaces are at a premium, and that is the conundrum. Emotion vs. practicality.
But what do you think, should Caroline sell up after 25 years and get something modern instead?
We would like to say a huge thanks to Cissbury Barns in Findon, West Sussex for letting us use their beautiful location for this photoshoot.