2002 VW Westfalia California V6 "Black Magic"
We love to travel, experience new places and get in touch with new people, cultures and expanding our horizons. Travelling by car is a great way to get around, see the landscape and investigate the area you are visiting. On short trips far away from your home or home country, it is therefore okay to rent a car for the purpose, but what about trips to the areas you want to explore and stay for a while, are there other options that are tempting and appropriate? For us it was natural to try travel by campervan. We sat on Bali early spring 2015, on our Around-the-world travel, and had fervently wanted to explore our own country. Norway is an elongated country with 2532 km coastal line from south to north, and we wanted to explore it at our own pace, thus the thought of campervan was born. We surfed websites looking for campervan for sale, and since we are VW enthusiasts, it was natural to look for VW Westfalia California, but most of the vans available was VW Multivan Westfalias, a simple built weekend camper. The VW Westfalia California "full-fledged" campers has been in production since the late 50ties, it started with the VW T1 and until today is the VW T6. We ended up with a 2002 mod VW Multivan Westfalia weekend camper, and the reason we chose just that was that it looked well maintained, affordable, looked great in black and with a V6 gasoline engine with automatic transmission. We bought the car without any inspections (not really recommended, but we were thousands of kilometers away... 😉), and a friend of us collected it and parkt it at his place. We were looking forward to take a closer look at what we had bought, but it went another 2 months before we returned home to Norway. Our Norwegian journey can you read about on our website HER
May 2015: We were excited when we picked up the car at our friend’s place, and it turned out that the engine was running great, and the mechanics was solid. But, the campervan missed driver side mirror, worn-out winter tires, flat battery, some dents and body marks. Seller ordered a new mirror and battery for us, but the tires kept exactly the mm-depth needed to stay inside the regulations, so we had to buy them ourselves. We headed down to the Svelvik Council and stayed overnight in the car for the first time. Since the car was a so-called weekend camper, it had simple but functional modules for water, a small gas flare and lockers for storing personal belongings and clothes. It is also equipped with a "westfalia pop-up roof", whitch is great since it provides full standing height in parts of the car, as well as options for accommodation for 2 people. If you use the sleeping area in the "tent" section, you avoid having to redo everything in the living area when you want to go to sleep. It was noticeably confined to maneuver 2 adult people when the bed was to be up down, and without swivelseats in the front, there was a little (too much) fuss. As days passed, we found our rhythm in the car and we made a list of what we wanted to have in it. The list featured among others; A small toilet «Porta Potti», thermomat covers for the front windows, swivelseats, and a refrigerator. But during our websearch, we found that a complete California camper interior would really be a gamechanger, and give a whole new experience of the car. The problem was that there were no such for sale in Norway.
We drove up north, with the goal of Nordkapp as the turningpoint. The car was incredibly smooth to drive and runs like a clock, the kilometers being fast to miles. We had seen that the Icaravan shop in Tromsø, according to their website, had both swivelseats bases and thermomats in stock. Porta Potti we had bought in Bergen, and it works fine for its use. On the way towards Trondheim amazingly enough one California camper interior on Finn.no showed up! We have followed the car-for-sale websites every day since the idea was born, and now we could be luckily and get one complete California interior, but only if we were able to come in contact th the seller before anyone else. The seller proved to be a nice guy who was rebuilding his VW T4 Syncro, to a Multivan with a Westfalia pop-up roof. He had bought a T4 California camper from the mid 90ties as a donor car, but did not need the camper interior. He was looking for the kind of interior we had, because he used the car in his job, and wanted to go camping on the weekends with his family. This was a win-win, and we just traded the one for the other. A little excited, and with some handtools, we drove up and met the seller a rainy morning in mid-june. It was a short drive to the container where all the interior parts were stored, and when the rain stopped, we started dismantled our interior from behind the front seats to the tailgate. The car looked a little bit “awkward” in the evening, standing on the campsite without anything in it. Fortunately, we could stay up in the pop-up aerea of the car, so we got a good night's sleep at least. The following day was a day of driving to various places for the procurement of various screws, bolts and metal bodyglue. On day 3 we were ready to assemble the "new" interior, and apart from a little bit of hustling about getting the backseat/fold-down bed to fit into the newly assembled rails on the floor (due to a cable that was smoked inside the sock and thus not working), it all went fast and smoothly. The greywater tank was fitted into the car body wall, just behind the sink aerea and is absolutely brilliant. The rest was plug & play, but with still a little bit left to fix, dinner was made in our “new” kitchen that night. The next day we headed towards the North Cape!
At the end of June we were driving south again and run by Icaravan in Tromsø to pick up the parts we have ordered. The swivelseat bases lifted the frontseats a little higher, but no worse than it was going alright. It only took a couple of hours to do the job, and since we were in it, we arranged the fresh water tank w/pump and mounted some USB point in the car altso. The trip down our elongated coastline and over some of the mountains, with a whole new experience of our campervan, was a fantastic journey that can be recommended wholeheartedly.
From the summer of 2016 until we sold the campervan in the autumn of 2017, it was diligently used for trips between Holmsbu in Hurum county, and Askøy/Øygarden county outside Bergen, with overnight stays along the way. With us, we occasionally had our classic Honda Nighthawk 750 for some extra spice on the journey, and with good towing capacity on the campervan we hauled various trailers when we started building our own micro houses and also super as a mobile office.