Here's one of my 1967 VW Campmobiles. This one is a super-rare unrestored Westfalia Deluxe model SO-44 sold only through VW dealers in Europe. The more common SO-42 Campmobile sold by VW dealers in the U.S. and other countries throughout the world has a completely different camping interior than the European SO-44.

My SO-44 comes with a fascinating true story of the original owner's early hope and eventual disappointment. Check out the story and the rarely seen SO-44 camping package of this one-of-a-kind special order Deluxe Westfalia.

My SO-44 has a mere 48,000 original miles on the odometer as of June 2003. Other than a few minor improvements, it is unrestored.

I've loved camping all my life. Our family vacationed in the Rocky Mountains in our 1959 Chevrolet Nomad station wagon when I was a kid, and as an adult I've owned numerous classic station wagons including a '59 Nomad. During a conversation with a friend a few years back, I mentioned that I might soon be shopping for a camping trailer to tow behind one of my classic wagons. The friend suggested that I consider a 1967 or earlier Volkswagen Westfalia Campmobile - an "RV" that would not only furnish the rustic camping experience I prefer, but would easily fit inside my garage.

I instantly recalled childhood memories of my Dad behind the wheel of our powerful '59 Chevy Nomad wagon cursing slowpoke Volkswagen campers in steep Rocky Mountain terrain. The VW's small engines (the very same ones that powered the much smaller and lighter Beetle) just didn't have the power to move a bus much faster than 30 mph on an uphill grade. But I also recalled seeing a 1967 VW camper at a classic car show a few years ago and admiring the beautiful and functional camping interior. And the "cute as a bug" exterior styling of the early VW bus charmed everyone who saw it. I took heed of my buddy's warnings of loud engine noise, lack of power, and unpredictable handling in windy conditions, and began the hunt for my own classic VW Campmobile.

I learned that Volkswagen outsourced the conversion of the basic Kombi model bus to a "camping box" from the earliest days of the "Transporter." Westfalia was the primary company that worked directly with VW, although other variations such as the Sundial were sold. The first Westfalias from the early 1950's were very basic, giving the outdoorsman a place to eat and sleep within the camper, but they were quite spartan. By 1959, the Westfalia (seen to the right) was becoming more elaborate with beautiful birch cabinetry, a dining table and a more comfortable bed.

1959 Westfalia on display at the VW Classic Show Irvine, California - June 2003

But after discussions with my VW afficianado friend, I decided to seek the last year of the split-windshield VW Westfalia, a 1967 model. The VW Transporter bus had become more advanced by '67, offering a 12 volt electrical system for the first time, safer dual-circuit brakes, more powerful 1500cc engine (underpowered, nonetheless), and a more practical and useful camping package. By '67 much of the camping cabinetry was sheathed in durable wood-grain Formica, but Westfalia still used plenty of real Baltic Birch plywood which gave the campers a cozy and surprisingly elegant feel. In 1998 I located and purchased a nicely optioned 1967 Westfalia SO-42 Campmobile through one of the VW resources on the internet, but the old bus required considerable restoration and would not meet my standards for sometime. That SO-42 Westfalia is featured elsewhere on my site and is now fully restored and has provided many great camping experiences.

Volkswagen factory brochure photos of SO-44 Deluxe Westfalia Campmobile

My 1967 model SO-42 Campmobile was undergoing the final phases of restoration in January 2001 when I discovered an unusual SO-44 Westfalia on eBay. I had never seen one of these Deluxe Campmobiles with an entirely different camping package than my SO-42. The SO-44 models were never offered in the U.S. by Volkswagen of America. Any SO-44 that found its way into the U.S. was privately exported from Europe. In the 1960's and 70's, it wasn't uncommon for a vacationing American family to arrange European delivery of a new Westfalia built to U.S. specs (bumpers, lighting, speedometer), then tour the Continent in their new Campmobile. At the end of the vacation, the European VW dealer arranged export to the U.S.

But my SO-44 found its way to American shores through entirely different circumstances as you will discover. By January 2001, it was offered on eBay with a mere 46,000 original miles in almost new, unrestored condition. Knowing it would be several months before I would finish the restoration of my SO-42 camper, I jumped on the chance to own this mint and unusal SO-44. My eBay bid was successful, and just a few days later I flew to Oregon to take delivery of my SO-44 and drive it over 1,000 trouble-free miles to its new home in Los Angeles.

Because this SO-44 was ordered in Germany for export to the U.S., it was equipped with U.S. spec bumpers, speedo, and exterior lighting with the mysterious exception of the European style headlamps.

The M-code plate behind the front passenger seat reveals the VIN number and factory installed equipment. The silver sticker below the M plate shows this Microbus was painted in Velvet Green and Pearl White. Note that most Westfalias were assembled from the basic Kombi bus rather than a higher level Microbus. My Westfalia may be a one-of-a-kind to fill the original owner's special order.

When shopping for a classic VW bus, always check the floors for rust. Moisture is typically trapped under the rubber floormat causing serious corrosion. It is quite unusual to find completely a rust-free floorboard like this. Obviously this Westy didn't see much wet weather!

It seems that every old VW bus has a story, and this is a good one! CLICK HERE to find out why this Westfalia SO-44 is especially unique and how it eventually found it way to eBay and into my classic car collection. There are lots of detailed photos of the unique SO-44 camping package.

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