In the world of recreational vehicles (RV’s) there are many types and styles. From your small tow behind trailer to your amazing class A’s that will do everything with the push of a button except make the bed. But there is one RV that has a following that is legendary and that is the VW Vanagon. The VW is not a luxury machine in any way, It is practical, comfortable and some would even say fun but luxury is not on the list. Neither is reliability or speed on the benefit list in anyway. But the VW has a insane following that is unmatched in the RV world. If you want to know how insane just drive a VW camper down a highway. When you pass another VW you will see the other person waving and
celebrating for miles before and miles after you pass. Waves, horns honking, flags or clothes flying out windows it is to the point of extreme! I still have not figured out why this celebration happens. Whether it is happiness at seeing another VW or just a sense that there is someone else crazy enough to also drive a VW – but it is a sight to see. Even more so when you camp next to another VW. They act like magnets and draw the owners together with stories of breakdowns, repairs, upgrades and things that you have put up with for years like a fridge that cools when it wants to, freezes when it wants to and warms your food when it wants to – sometimes in the same hour.
My introduction to the VW Vanagon was from my Dad, he owned a truck and camper that was an amazing unit but had an issue with gas consumption. A trip from the house to the local grocery store was a half a tank of gas and a vacation took the planning of an elite military squad to be able to find the gas stations within range to stay mobile. After a couple of years of owning the truck and camper he upgraded to a VW as this was an RV that suited him. The VW would be able to travel for a week on the same fuel that the truck camper would use in a day.
The problem with the VW was that it would breakdown as often as it would run. One trip my Dad calculated his fuel mileage and found that he was getting almost 200 miles per gallon. The issue was that most of the travel was on the back of a tow truck or being towed by me or a friend back to the shop for repairs. I don’t think I ever went camping with my Dad in the VW as someone needed to have a vehicle to tow him back in case of breakdown, so if we went someplace I would take my camper just in case. But this frustration just made my Dad love his VW even more, it was like dealing with a kid that would throw a temper tantrum at the worst times.
Is a VW practical?
I got my love for the VW from my Dad, but fortunately I got the practical part of me from my mother so I have never owned one. When my dad got sick I was told to sell his VW and for some time I struggled with the decision as to keep it or sell it. The history, the uniqueness, the challenge all seemed like a reason to keep it but I honestly knew better so I sold it. Even selling a VW was a event like nothing else!!! You would get people that never drove a VW coming to test drive it with comments like; Where is the cruise control? Why does it not accelerate? Why duct tape on the steering wheel? There is wind noise! Why is that part attached to the engine with picture wire? These were the people that never knew anything about a VW especially the uniqueness.
Then you would get the VW people with comments like; WOW it started – AMAZING! Cool you have that part still, I lost mine years ago! WOW we are almost doing 60 kilometers per hour and it has only been 15 minutes that is great! In fact the guy that finally bought the VW took it for a test drive and a number of things did not work and he was so happy that a few things did work that he bought it on the spot. He left to get the money and when he returned he had a flatbed trailer that he rented. When I asked why he said he worked the next day and figured this was the fastest way to get it home (2 hours) and at least on the trailer it would not break down. A true VW person!
Selling a member of the family
But VW’s still have a following and I count myself as one of them. I am an armchair VW person. I LOVE looking up listings of units for sale, reading blogs about people that have one or looking at pictures of ones that were just rebuilt. Just about every VW for sale will have an ad like “Selling our most amazing VW van”, “We have to sell a member of our family” and then they will go on to tell you the name of the van and the history – “Snowball came to us 10 years ago and has become a valued member of our family, taking us on may memorable trips and adventures. We must sell Snowball as our family has outgrown him and we are looking for a loving individual or couple to continue to look after him”. The funny thing is that I have never seen these ads with so much love for other RV’s. Not for a $500,000 class A or an amazing Class C, but for VW’s they are the norm.
Some photography equipment can get a following
This is the same with many photography items, they may not be the newest, shiniest or the best but they are used and loved. For me it is a old tripod that I bought years ago. I could not tell you the brand without looking at it as the brand means nothing to me. I can tell you all the issues that it has like the legs refusing to retract in really cold weather, I know the parts that will fall off at the worst times, I know that in the worst weather it will start to tip as the legs will not lock. BUT I love it. It is heavy but strong. The right size for me when set-up but will not fold down like newer ones. Can be dropped and will not get damaged but it also will start to tip if I am not careful.
So if you have a piece of equipment that you love and works for you make sure that you take care of it, it might not be fashionable but it is yours and it works…. okay most of the time!