Steely Van

We traveled north to visit Monica and her family in Philadelphia, Pa last month.  While there, we decided to tour Eastern State Penitentiary, an old prison built ca. 1820 that housed some very well-known criminals in its day (I fully recommend checking it out if you find yourself in Philly – great tour, great stories, great architecture).  On the drive over, my son yells out “Papa, do you see the bus?”  Turns out he was the only one who managed to identify the top corner of a bus peaking out from behind a parked truck.  Unfortunately, we were not able to stop and investigate why there was a bus parked up on the sidewalk at the time, but, as luck would have it, Monica’s brother ended up walking his commute that week.  He graciously agreed to stop and check out why the bus was parked up on the sidewalk in front of the National Museum of American Jewish History. Continue reading

1971 Tin-top Camper

While bus hunting last spring, Tom got a line from a friend about a bus sitting at a local VW dealership.  His investigation turned up a ’71 tin-top Westy in mid-restoration and was kind enough to share his photos.  While I never found the tin-top camper quite as comfortable as the pop-top version (it’s always nice to be able to stand when putting on your pants), the tin-top holds a special place in my memory – my family’s first VW camper was a white tin-top.

Photo Credit:  All photos by Tom (Thanks!!)


Beautiful exterior paint.


Bumper guards are very popular these days. I encountered them on one of my past buses and found that, while I don’t mind them aesthetically, if the bumper collides with an object, the guards bend backwards and dent the body (think poor drivers in a parking lot!).

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1969 Camper for sale ad

A few months ago, I came across an ad for a ’69 camper.  I see ads all the time, but what struck me about this one was the unique pop-top canvas replacement the owner installed.  Poor ventilation aside, it seemed like a pretty good idea for an inexpensive alternative.  The For Sale note gave me a chuckled too: “you have to love it more than I do!”  Well, obviously anyone wanting to buy this bus is going to have more commitment than the seller at this point 🙂


Overall looks to be in nice shape.

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All Air-Cooled Gathering, Flanders New Jersey

On September 17th, I headed north to my home state of New Jersey for what was rumored to be one of the best VW shows in the Mid-Atlantic region.  I first heard about the All Air-Cooled Gathering during our first Dubs-in-the-Shrubs trip and it seemed that a lot of folks had high praise for the show.  In the ensuing years, I tried to fit  the show into our schedule with no luck, however this year, the timing finally worked out for me, but alas, not the rest of my family.

Sponsored by the Central New Jersey Volkswagen Society, the Gathering started with camping and air-cooled camaraderie on Friday night into Saturday at the Swim and Sport Club of NJ.  They had plenty of camping space split for quiet campers and those who preferred a livelier time.  On Sunday, the main show took place in a large field opposite a hedgerow from the campgrounds with over 250 air-cooled cars in attendance.  Not limited to VWs, the show included any air-cooled model, such as Corvair and Porsche.  The dismal weather report reduced overall attendance no doubt, Continue reading

Westfalia accessory tent

I posted long ago about the tent Westfalia sold as an accessory for their VW bus camper conversions and wanted to return to the topic with a focus on their setup.  Let me start by saying I always admired these canvas tents when I came across them at shows.  Often referred to as the drive-away tent, standalone tent, bus tent, or, in the more modern variations, the add-a-room tent, they always seemed so practical to me.  Four people can easily sleep inside and, sans people, there is ample room for extra gear, getting dressed, board games, or escaping the elements.  And those colors!  The great 1970’s color scheme always reminded me of a circus tent and is many levels higher on the cool-factor chart than the drab green canvas tents in which I slept as a kid. Even with today’s brighter colored tents, it remains easy to find your campsite with this tent.  With the arrival of Moby, we quickly adopted the tent as mandatory equipment because the space became so useful when camping with kids.

Yet, despite their usefulness stated above, drawbacks associated with this canvas dwelling Continue reading

71 Super along the road – for sale

Martha discovered this beetle for sale after our trip to Assateague, but before leaving for North Carolina.  I did not get a chance to visit until today; luckily for me no one bought it while we were away.  The owner was not around so I could not investigate all the details for the bug.  Overall it looks like a great beetle, most likely repainted at some point, but the roof has some worn paint that does not conform to the condition of the paint on the rest of the car. It could be an older paint job or perhaps they only painted portions of the bug and matched the color really well. The interior appears to be solid, but the car was locked so I could not verify any reupholstering.  No major rust, at least on the body – unknown pan condition, but I would think they are in good shape or replaced based on the overall Continue reading