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The VW Camper Van : A Biography
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The VW Camper Van : A Biography

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It was invented immediately after the war, in the factory a far-sighted English military man had set up to turn the German economy from making machines of warfare to more pacific products. By the seventies that dream had been amply fulfilled, as the VW Campervan became the conveyance of choice for West Coast hippies

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By Mike Harding

It was invented immediately after the war, in the factory a far-sighted English military man had set up to turn the German economy from making machines of warfare to more pacific products. By the seventies that dream had been amply fulfilled, as the VW Campervan became the conveyance of choice for West Coast hippies, Australian surf bums and Europeans taking the overland route to find enlightenment and good karma in India. It had also become - indeed, still is - the first choice for any couple, or family, seeking a cheap camping holiday with wheels attached.

So never mind the oddly off-centre driving wheel, the vagaries of the air cooled rear engine - the VW Campervan had become more than a vehicle - it had truly become a way of life. Mike Harding's first ride in a Volkswagen Camper Van was back in 1961, when it was the carrying around the gear and bandmembers of his rock band the Manchester Rainmakers. Finally, in 2009, he could wait no longer, and bought his own, a 2001 Type 2 bay window Brazilian import Danbury conversion in hot orange and off white.

Add in the endless curiosity of the author of eight monographs on church architecture, and the hilarious sense of humour of one of Britain's best stand-up comics, and you have a wonderful social history of the post war years through the prism of a single transport icon.

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