Emblems of alternative culture since the Sixties, campers can trace their roots back even further – to 1950 when the first Type 2 Transporter was manufactured. Since then it has been through numerous versions, with many being sought after by those who wanted its practicality for heading to festivals or the beach – or who had simply fallen in love with the quirkiness of the vehicle.
And while it is informally known as the ‘Hippie Van’, these days the camper is seemingly just as likely to be driven by a celebrity, with Martin Clunes, Jamie Oliver and The Who’s Roger Daltrey claiming to be fans – even former F1 world champion Jensen Button, who apparently liked the change of pace, owned one for a time.
So, if you want to join the cult following, what should you bear in mind?
Cool? It’s in the details
Although the most sought-after models are inevitably among the oldest – particularly the split-windscreen versions – expert Adrian Chandler advises thinking carefully about post-1967 versions. These were produced with improved suspension and stronger engines – meaning they tend to driver better – along with better electrics.
As with any second-hand car, rust can be something to watch out for. Places to inspect in particular include the bottom 6in portion all around the vehicle, on the roof sills and wheel arches, and on the floor of the vehicle in front of the rear wheels and behind the front seats.
Meanwhile, it could pay to check the engine for oil leaks, and the gearbox to make sure that it does not jump out of gear. In terms of suspension, Chandler also advises steering clear of the numerous versions which have been lowered for aesthetic reasons – this makes it difficult to perform repairs, and can result in an unforgiving ride.
Some owners also note that steering can be heavy and brakes somewhat lacking, while the cabin itself can be rather draughty, meaning that it could be closer to the experience of sleeping in a tent than you may care for.
A price on happiness?
Of course, with campers being so popular, they are not cheap – especially if you are after a particular model, or one that is in good condition.
In fact, you can spend £20,000 on good, classic models, while the most sought-after can cost £50-60,000. The most advanced, modern versions – which arguably have less of the charm, but rather more of the creature comforts – can be almost as expensive.
In addition, while they are tough and relatively simply engineered, many are likely to need more love and attention than the average car – all of which adds to the cost.
If you are determined to follow your heart, though, you would probably do well to spend some time thinking about exactly what you want from a camper – and your ability to deal with the downsides of owning an older vehicle. And if you find the vehicle of your dreams, although it may not be cheap, one way to get your hands on it could be to take out a loan.
Remember, you aren’t just buying a car. Owners note that you are buying into a lifestyle and a community – all you need is the British summer to hold up.
Issued by Sainsbury’s Finance