In a move indicative of the times, the VW Campervan is to be consigned to the annals of holidays past after the health and safety bureaucrats decided it was no longer fit to traverse the roads of the UK.
It borders on the criminal that the very icon of an alternative and relaxed lifestyle has finally fallen foul of modern Britain, and all because the VW Campervan can’t be fitted with airbags.
The whole point of the VW Campervan is not safety, or fuel efficiency, it’s all about freedom and fun. The move to cease production of the vehicle based solely on the lack of an airbag is a decision which limits people’s freedom of choice. If safety was a priority, Campervan drivers would all go out and by a Hyundai. But would they have any fun? No, of course not.
Production of the vans, which were originally made in Germany, was switched to Brazil when strict European safety laws meant that Brazil was a more suitable location for production. But now even Brazilian laws have caught up with the charming hippy wagon, with all vehicles manufactured in the country now requiring both airbags and antilock brakes.
Over 10million VW Campervans have been produced since the model was introduced 63 years ago, with 1.5million having been produced in Brazil, where they were used until recently as mail vans.
Initially the Camper was known as the Type 2, because it was the second type of vehicle made by Volkswagen, after the Beetle. During the 60s and 70s the van became intrinsically linked with youth culture across Britain and in large parts of the US, partly because of its low cost.
There have been a few grumbles over the years regarding the VW’s mechanical reliability, and it’s rather dawdling pace, particularly uphill, where it essentially grinds to a halt. But for many this only reinforced the vehicle’s innate charm, and because its simple engine was so easy to fix, it imparted a deeper sense of ownership.
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