The explosion of the VW Campervan scene

There are many makes of campervan but none more iconic and instantly recognisable than the Volkswagen Camper. Possibly the coolest vehicle to own of all time, the VW Campervan still holds its appeal after more than sixty years. We have to thank the genius and foresight of Westfalia for the introduction to the world of the VW Campervan. Who would have thought that a designer’s doodling back in 1940’s could have inspired fanaticism, devotion and fervour decades into the future?

But why has the Campervan enjoyed such a monumental surge in popularity over the last ten years?

July 2010 marked the 60th anniversary of the VW Campervan, obviously this marketing opportunity was embraced by Volkswagen. This is however, only plays a small part.

In the last ten years we have seen many changes. The economic downturn and banking crisis has shaken people’s confidence in institutions that were once thought of as infallible. Folk are uncertain of the future. Add that to a level of 24/7 communication and information overload you start to realise that we are now subject to a level of stress that simply wasn’t an issue fifteen years ago.

Perhaps the most significant appeal of the VW Campervan is the fact that people are flooded with warm and fuzzy feelings of nostalgia when they gaze upon its friendly face, curved bodywork and general retro charm. This invariably prompts nostalgic feelings which whisk people away to a simpler time in their lives when they were young, free and carefree (even if in reality at the time they couldn’t afford to buy one!). The campervan conjures up images of the wild outdoors, freedom to travel the open road with no final destination or restrictions and all the many adventures that potentially await the intrepid Campervan owner.

Vintage and retro fashion is big business. And as people seek out vintage clothes and home wares this invariably extends to people’s vehicles. Many people love the Campervan for this very reason alone!

The beautiful design of the VW Campervan makes for an absolutely stunning vehicle. The famous ‘V’ design at the front combined with some classy bodywork gives an overall Art Deco feel. Perhaps people’s love for this quirky vehicle is a backlash against some of today’s vehicles which can appear soulless and frankly sometimes quite ugly. The VW Camper Van even has the look of a face with the headlamps as two big bulging round eyes giving the Campervan heaps of character. How can someone not find this appealing?

The VW Camper Van is now firmly embedded in our popular culture. This iconic vehicle pops up time and time again in films such as Cars by Pixar, Little Miss Sunshine – 2006 (featured a sunshine yellow Type II van) and in television programmes. Campervans frequently appear on The Simpsons and Futurama. It even inspired the name of an alternative rock group Camper Van Beethoven.

Above all, the Campervan is ultimately practical as well as aesthetically pleasing. These beauties not only hold their value, but they are actually appreciating day by day. Many people hire before they buy but once tried they are not easily forgotten. Campervan virgins often find that these vehicles not only look quirky, but they also have plenty of quirks when it comes to driving them. But as long as you don’t expect a Campervan to handle like a modern car there’s every chance that you’ll love the experience. Who knows, you might even get the bug!

Most people will agree that when someone mentions the Camper Van an image of travelling on the open road in the height of summer springs to mind. The associations with travelling and freedom are integral components of this brand’s appeal, and this is a very cool brand! The VW Camper Van has a huge cult following that is only reserved for the elite of classic vehicles such as the Mini Cooper, Ford Capri, E Type Jag and, of course, the VW Beetle.

People who love the retro chic of the Campervan also identify with its links to the counter culture, the hippies and surfers. They are buying into the bohemian image and lifestyle. The Camper Van is the ultimate festival accessory.

Another huge part of the Campervans’ appeal is the fact that it lends itself so well to customisation. People love to express themselves and their individuality. Owners lavish hours of care and attention and hundreds or even thousands of pounds on the objects of their affection. The result is a Campervan that is as unique as they are.

Any icon will invariably become part of the landscape of popular culture, and the Campervan is no exception. Countless fashion shoots have featured the Campervan as it’s the perfect prop for boho and festival fashions. You also frequently find Campervans on magazine covers and editorial illustrations.

In addition to this t shirts and sweatshirts with pictures of campervans on them are also popular. May retail outlets sell ranges of clothes and items that feature Campervan designs. This is understandable when you take the vans friendly countenance into account. But the public’s appetite for Campervan paraphernalia doesn’t end there. Mugs, clocks, tea towels, coasters, money boxes – the list is endless.

The advertising industry has caught onto its mass appeal. The VW Campervan has earned the accolade of actually being used to sell other people’s products. The image is often used to advertise quite unrelated items where a ‘cool’ image is required.

Using the VW Campervan in this way shows just how much of a premium product it has become. Television advertisements sometimes feature families in a bay window VW Campervan.

Make no mistake about it; the Camper Van is an object of desire. Like a fine wine its charm and value burgeons with age. How many of the cars and vans of today will achieve this sort of iconic status and cult following?

The social side of the VW Campervan scene must not be overlooked. All the specialist publications, forums and websites coupled with the regular meet ups give people a real sense of identity and belonging. Owning a Campervan, for many, also means being part of a community of likeminded people. You don’t buy a VW Campervan for a one-off holiday: you buy it for life.