Bay window camper vans age really well, and there are lots of great examples around. But could you tell the difference between a solid example ready for the road and a rusty heap ready for the breakers?
This VW Bay Window camper van buyers guide should help you find a great example.
When buying any camper look out for...
- Rust, particularly on the bottom 6 inches all around...
- Rust on chassis box sections
- On front and rear outriggers
- On roof guttering, sills, wheel arches
- On floors in front of the rear wheels
- Behind front seats
- Under cover plates which can hide a horror story of trapped moisture and rust
Be careful of campers with suspension lowered to make them look cool...
- The ride can be harsh
- Visibility is reduced
- You can't crawl underneath to do repairs
Check the engine carefully...
- Oil leaks near the gearbox flange usually mean an 'engine out' job
- In gearboxes listen for bearing whines
- Check all gears work and don't jump out of gear (a floppy gear change is normal)
- Pull and push the bottom pulley wheel: if you feel a loud 'clunk clunk' the engine needs a rebuild. Very small movement is OK
Other things to look out for...
- Inoperative heaters and controls - requiring new heat exchangers,
- Smell of petrol inside the vehicle usually means rubber pipes need replacing
- Tanks can also rust through where they come in contact with more rust
- Steering should be direct with hardly any play. If not check the steering box Get repairs advice from...
- Any experienced VW camper repair shop that's been there for more than 5 years
- Inspect a car they've restored or get a customer reference
Get spare parts from...
- eBay.co.uk, www.justkampers.co.uk
- Alan Schofield for most body panels.
- VW Motoring magazine for other leads
Prices you can expect to pay for a Bay (1967 onwards)...
- Totally original and unrestored with MOT £5000 - £15,000
- You can still buy new Bays built in Mexico, vans (c £10000), minibuses (c £13,000) or campers (c £30,000) - see VW Motoring or Volks World for prices
- Restored with MOT £5000 - £15000 (Watch out for hidden patched over horrors)
- MOT'd but needing work £2000 - £6000
- A 'basket case' £1000 - £2000
Reasons why you shouldn't buy one...
- Because it looks cool or restored but you haven't looked underneath and don't want to constantly maintain it
- It has a six volt system when you want reliability, though conversion to 12 volts is easier than people realise see www.nls.net/mp/volks/
- You think it will be fast and/or economical