It's a totally different experience driving a VW camper van with its iconic design and technology from a bygone era! It's a back to basics driving experience, stripped back and real where you actually have to 'drive' the vehicle. Don't be scared though its great fun as you discover all the different quirks each vehicle has. Just don't expect power steering, power assisted breaks or on-board computers!
Every camper is different with its own driving style where you sit up high with a big bay windscreen to look out from and you will love the smiles and waves you get from other drivers and pedestrians as you drive by. Be realistic though these campervans are heavy - weighing over a 1.5 tonnes and have an engine design from the 1960s and 1970s - it's not a speedy vehicle. If you try and push these vehicles hard they will break so you need to be driving around at a maximum of 50 to 55mph and enjoy the journey rather than rush to your destination.
In terms of fuel economy then you will probably be looking at around 20mpg if you average 50-55mph. These vehicles are not for long distance trips as they are not the most comfortable or economical by modern standards.
Ok so its not a Fred Flintstone car but you do need to apply some decent pressure to the brakes to make sure you stop in time. These aren't your power assisted variety from the modern era so make sure you allow decent longer braking distances.
Unlike the modern car the hand brake is not in between the front seats on the floor! The hand brake is found in the middle of the dashboard, which you pull out to apply. Whilst you are getting used the camper it's always best to leave it in gear and wheels facing the pavement just to be safe.
So you have a big bus steering wheel and it's not power assisted! At low speeds it takes some effort when manoeuvring the camper to park but is fine once you are moving. When you are being overtaken by cars and trucks you will feel a pull from crosswinds as the vehicle weight is at the back of the van but this is normal and you just have to compensate. Equally if it's a windy day you will feel the affect so you just have to react to the wind.
It is fun to drive so don't be overawed by it - the camper is actually shorter and narrower than a Ford Mondeo Estate so its not that big. Just take your time and you will have a great experience!
All campers have different gear finding experiences and you have to get used to each camper van's unique quirks. That's said they are not as tight as modern cars but they have standard H configurations for first, second, third and fourth gears and another gear for reverse which is left and down of the H. Once you get used to it, its fine! We always recommend a quick spin around the industrial estate where we are located to get your bearings first and we can give you any tips necessary.
Once you are on the road you will be part of the VW crowd, which ellicits a totally different reaction from cars and pedestrians. You will get waves, flashes and beeps on the horn from others on the road - especially other VWs! Also prepare for passers by wanting to take photos and have a chat about the van. It's a great experience and never ceases to bring a smile to your face!