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The VW Camper Van: A Biography [Hardcover]

Mike Harding
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
RRP: £14.99
Price: £10.49 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

23 May 2013

It was invented immediately after the war, in the factory a far-sighted English military man had set up to turn the German economy from making machines of warfare to more pacific products.

By the seventies that dream had been amply fulfilled, as the VW Campervan became the conveyance of choice for West Coast hippies, Australian surf bums and Europeans taking the overland route to find enlightenment and good karma in India. It had also become – indeed, still is – the first choice for any couple, or family, seeking a cheap camping holiday with wheels attached. So never mind the oddly off-centre driving wheel, the vagaries of the aircooled rear engine – the VW Campervan had become more than a vehicle – it had truly become a way of life.

Mike Harding’s first ride in a Volkswagen Camper Van was back in 1961, when it was the carrying around the gear and bandmembers of his rock band the Manchester Rainmakers. Finally, in 2009, he could wait no longer, and bought his own, a 2001 Type 2 bay window Brazilian import Danbury conversion in hot orange and off white. Add in the endless curiosity of the author of eight monographs on church architecture, and the hilarious sense of humour of one of Britain’s best stand-up comics, and you have a wonderful social history of the postwar years through the prism of a single transport icon.

Frequently Bought Together

The VW Camper Van: A Biography + VW Bus Buyers Guide - The Essential Buyer's Guide (Essential Buyer's Guide Series) + The VW Camper Story
Price For All Three: £24.77

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd (23 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845136055
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845136055
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 146,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'This is a very personal and highly readable book, and will appeal equally to hardcore bus freaks as well as those who know little about the VW bus. I was sad to reach the final page and wanted more!'

(VW Camper & Commercial)

';Harding has some great anecdotes.. strangely enthralling.'

(Classic Car Weekly)

'Well written and really engaging.'

(Auto Express)

'This paen to the 'Bulli' is part tribute, part novel, part history book, and a fun route into the model for the non-obsessive.'

(Classic & Sports Car)

'It's as much a cultural history as one of the vehicule itself, Harding recalling his first dalliance as an owne, falling in love with 'Molly' on first sight in the romantic environs of Preston... A fun read.'


'Mike Harding's engaging account of his love affair with that icon of laid-back hippy chic, the VW Camper, tootles along as niftily as a well-preserved Splitty.'

(Eastern Daily Press)

'Love letter to a vehicle forever associated with peace signs, surfer dudes and Aussies making the overland trip to London's 'Kangaroo Valley.''

(Lonely Planet Traveller)

'Harding writes as a fan.'


About the Author

MIKE HARDING is the author of A Guide to Tying North Country Flies and eight Little Books for Aurum, including the perennially successful books on the Green Man and Gargoyles. For many years he has presented the weekly folk music show on BBC Radio 2, and hosteds the annual BBC Folk Awards. He lives in West Yorkshire. He is also in perennial demand for his one-man show of stand-up comedy and music.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A book for a Friend 27 Mar 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
My mate Andy loves Animal T-shirst with pictures of camper vans so I thought I would enlarge his knowledge of these iconic vehicles. Originally a bit of a joke to cheer him up. Rather wish I had bought it for myself.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great present. 10 Feb 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This was a present for an enthusiast and delivered everything I hoped it would. My friend was delighted with it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 15 Aug 2014
By L A.
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Just what we were looking for a speedy delivery
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I owned one Westfalia for 25 years... and several others... 13 Aug 2013
By Jonc - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed my experiences ... on several continents Africa, north and south America Europe from Finland to Turkey.. I thought I would like this book but I did not... I could not connect with the writer or his experiences... 500,000 miles in Westies was much more interesting that anything that book had to say... Deadly dull
4.0 out of 5 stars A second opinion 18 Nov 2013
By Robert M. Dunshee - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"There is not accounting for tastes". Or is there?
Contrary to the other reviewer, I very much enjoyed the book.
My wife and I own a 1991 Vanagon. We have not traveled to Africa or South America; only to Québec (from Seattle) often with a canoe on the roof or bikes on bumper rack. Or both.
Perhaps owning a VW camper van is like having children: talking about it/them may not be very interesting to those who don't have one/them?
In any case, I liked reading about the "genealogy" of these vehicles: the inspiration of a Dutch bicycle, for instance, with the "power" (the cyclist) in the rear and the cargo space up front: the moving of the cyclist (the steering) to the front, leaving the cargo space in the middle and the power in the rear. Thus, the VW camper van.
And I liked reading about what other people are doing with their camper vans, like the woman who stages plays in hers.
But then, the Vanagon is my "baby".
Finally, four stars compared to what books? Five compared to some novels I can think of; three compared to books by Jonathan Raban.
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