Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is celebrating 25 years since the launch of the California model, a van specially prepared for family vacations on wheels.
Volkswagen celebrates the 25th anniversary of the California model in April. An exotic name for a camper van made for holidays. For many, this type of car meant freedom to travel and explore new places, and California marked an important point in the construction of recreational vehicles dedicated to families who want to spend their vacation on wheels.
In the ’80s, air travel was not available to everyone, and the tent was no longer fashionable. Western Europe vacations enthusiasts were looking for an alternative to these two options. Trailer caravans or traveling by train were not appreciated and did not provide enough flexibility so that European tourists, especially those who wanted to explore Southern Europe, have turned to motor homes or camper vans.
A more practical solution from all points of view, these campers were based on utility models, but transformed into mobile apartments that allowed a new style of holiday: two days here, three in another place without worrying about accommodation. This represented an unprecedented freedom for many tourists.
The Volkswagen California Family
Volkswagen took advantage of this new trend and created a new model: California. It was not a totally new idea. There were already a number of independent builders modifying utility models in this respect. Westphalia, for example, was a producer that already had a history in this area and even one about Volkswagen.
What’s next? Volkswagen Westfalia
Volkswagen Westfalia was the official partner in the recreational vehicles segment, the first model modified in 1962 being SO34, an original VW Transporter changed for vacations. Westfalia SO42 followed based on the same model, but with a greater number of specific facilities.
SO42 was very popular in the United States. Westafalia continued to produce models dedicated to holidays in the 70s using vans as the basis and other brands. They bore the names of explorers like James Cook, Sven Hedin and Marco Polo.
Volkswagen California Westfalia SO42
In the early ’80s, Westfalia struck lucky with the Joker model, based on a T3 Transporter. The Joker was basically a modified Transporter with the rear seat being converted into a bed and a small kitchen with fridge, gas hob and sink placed inside. Joker was well designed, but due to the many changes and amenities it had an adequate price.
When designing the first generation of the California, Volkswagen aimed at this: a holiday home on wheels, but simple and affordable. At launch, the Volkswagen California had a price of 39,900 Reichsmarks.
Westafalia was subsequently acquired by Daimler Chrysler group in the early 2000s, but continued to use models from a variety of builders to modify them for tourism. In 2011, the Westafalia group was acquired by Rapido.
Thus the Volkswagen California was born, a Volkswagen model kept for 25 years. The most important element which debuted on California and was preserved until today is that it can raise the ceiling to create an extra sleeping space on the inside. Previous models were modified to have an elevated ceiling fixed element that may affect its stability or its ability to pass under low areas.
Over the 25 years of existence, Volkswagen produced 100,000 copies of three generations of the model California. The present VW California is available in a variety of engines: two 2.0 TSI engines of 150 and 204 hp and five TDI engines ( 84, 102, 114, 140 and 180 hp).
Some of these engines can be associated with automatic transmission and all-wheel DSG drive or integrate 4MOTION drive. To celebrate the 25 years of the California model, Volkswagen has launched an anniversary version called Edition25 based on the Multivan.