Breadloaf-era (68-79) tents

Note: per Bobbitt (p. 95), the English Devon camper had an awning and side tent option. No pix or description.

The Drive-Away

(AKA "Add-a-Room", "Motent" [Bobbitt, p. 113])

Tent on the Beach Here's the prototypical Jungian sex-and-death wet-dream image of baywindow add-a-room eschatology, courtesy of Joe Chanin.
I'll go out on a limb and say the Westfalia conversion is the only VW product that seemed to keep getting more practical year after year. The seats and cabinets got roomier and less view-obstructing, and the "upstairs" double bed introduced in 1974 is a real godsend!

So it goes with the tent: introduced in 1967 for the second-generation Campmobiles, this version was the most practical yet. It has a boot that fits snugly against the side of your bus, and -- finally -- a floor! No more wet feet when it rains. This one makes such a nice shelter that I've seen them used as stand-alone camping tents by people who didn't even know what a Westfalia was! (Or people like me who've sold their thrashed Westys but can't let go of the tent -- I used mine for three days in the Florida Keys back in '94; looked way cool next to the Prelude. :-)

The same blue and yellow color scheme from the Big Top is repeated on this tent, although the front flap isn't as colorful. The frame is now on the outside, and consists of 28 interconnecting poles. Once you've set up the frame, the tent hangs from it with over two dozen little plastic hooks -- like hanging up a weird shower curtain (Note: you don't clip the plastic hooks to the metal frame -- they go over the frame and back down to hook through the metal grommets on the tent!). Generous screening covers the front door and side windows, while the front flap doubles as a nice awning to keep out sunshine and rain.

(Note: As pointed out by Sami Dakhlia and others on the vanagon list, when it rains you must undo a couple of the plastic hooks or else water will pool on the roof -- as I found out on Bahia Honda Key!) Also, Larry Clark (no relation) of Seattle reports finding one of these with a rain fly with grommets so that it fits over the frame and the grommets slip onto the guy-rope pins. I've never seen this in any of the pix or manuals, though.) Luke Lukey says he's seen the tent, too -- and that Larry has since sold it to Susan Crandall, one of my references for these pages. I've asked Susan for pix if possible.

The floor is 6'6" by 9'8", giving plenty of room for extra cots or gear storage. When you drive away for a day trip, the camper-side zips up sung as any other "cabin" style camping tent. There's even a length of beading sewn into a flap that clips onto the rain gutter (assuming it hasn't become stiff!) to keep the boot dry. Handy storage bags complete the set.

The orange Westy photo is courtesy of Jack Stafford.

Variations on a Theme

windowed flapThanks to Jon Hathaway for this pic of a variation on the inside flap (the one you zip shut when the bus is away from the tent). Note the curved corner (others are sharp) and the zippered window (others have no window here).

Jon says he was told by Bill Kline of VW Bus Heaven that "this style was made from '72-'74 (date of manufacture stamp is inside to left of screen door on side canvas just above floor/side seam, should also be a round Inspectors stamp and penciled "inspected by" initials)." I've seen this stamp on other tents.

I've noticed a variation in the tent peg loops that may be related to this change, too. Later ones seem to have rubberized grommets where the tent peg loops are. Can anyone clarify model changes for the Drive-Aways?

Jon also sends tantalizing word of a rare find: a tent bag for this model that straps into the 68-73 roof rack. Pics soon?

Got Pole Problems?

Dan Houg made his own. Check out the pictures and story here.

For another source of poles and fittings, visit CanopyMasters (thanks to Mark Van Dam).

White Stag?

Good old Michael Heron sent me a mixed bag of photos a while back, and thanks to alert reader D. Axel Simmons, I've finally identified one of the tents as a White Stag model. The photos here (along with the instruction sheet supplied by Daniel) give a good idea of the appearance and construction of this tent, which was possibly a generic van tent rather than strictly for VW. Like the Squareback mounting?

More confusion! See the accessory tent in the ASI/Riviera Brochure at Jim Arnott's site. It looks just like this one; maybe White Stag made 'em for Riviera.


There was a tent pictured on Steve Haney's Sportsmobile page (it has since gone offline), but I'm not sure if it attaches to the vehicle. It was similar to the Campertent below (other photos on that site suggested that maybe White Stag made all the Sportsmobile and/or Campertents?? Anyone??).

VWoA Campertent

This picture is also from Michael Heron, taken from a 1977 brochure. Until I recently heard from Bill Bowman, this one's provenance was a mystery to me.

[campertent on late loaf westy]No longer. Meet Part No. ZVW 199 101, distributed by Volkswagen of America, Inc. From the copy of the 1973 instruction manual sent by Bill:

"Add a free standing, 90 square foot guest room to your Volkswagen in minutes. Specially designed, Campertent will add a separate bedroom or family room to your Volkswagen. Also serves as a base camp to hold your campsite when Volkswagen is used for that trip to the country store or sightseeing. Rear of Campertent is designed for easy attachment to Volkswagen. A zippered flap affords privacy between Volkswagen and Campertent when desired.

[Wolfsburg crest and campertent logo]"Campertent has large screened side and front windows with zippered privacy flaps. Seven foot ceiling enhances roomy effect. Reinforced vinyl floor is sewn in. Approximately 90 square foot, 9'6" x 9'6" floor area. Approximate net weight 50 pounds.

Further comments from Bill:

"Many folks who bought the regular passenger models back then (and now) would still like to take their families out camping, and needed to buy the sliding door mounted "Add-a-Room" style tents to use with their normal Busses to make them more functional while camping or on vacation. I believe VW had these tents made for those folks in particular, as well as for the folks who initially ordered Westfalia's but didn't opt for the Westy tent. In fact, your website sales brochure photo [the color one above - jc] shows it mounted on a '77 Westfalia Campmobile. I've seen it marketed in Bubble window Bus VW accessory pamphlets. This tent would be very "correct" for the "VW purist" , as well as very functional for any Transporter. In fact, they are much more than the '68 and up Westfalia tent."

The instructions and parts list/diagram should give you enough information to pitch one and find out what's missing.

A few years ago, Harris Upham described a tent that attaches to the rear end of a non-camper VW van. It includes an extension to the rear luggage area that makes a bed behind the back seat.

Meanwhile, this image was sent to me by alert reader Dan Soiney, who said:

"This tent was made by Westfalia for use on passenger vans. This tent allowed people to camp in their passenger vans by providing an extra 3 feet of legroom. It is held on the car by two small brackets on the car, as well as two supports which hook over the hatch supports. The neat thing about this setup is that the tent uses the westy screen snaps. Everything lined up perfectly when I snapped it on the car! This tent makes the bottom bed in a westy usable for tall people."

(The other tent in the image is a "Drive-Away" tent.)

More pics arrived 8/1/02 from Jamie Auch. See the pix at this location. Jamie says:

"The alcove adds an additional three feet on the back of the bus. My guess, the rear ender was made for passenger buses without the z-bed. It is very strong. the base has two tongues ( for lack of a better word) that slip into two brackets, then there are two arms that hook onto the hatch's hinges, then there are two more rods that attach to the bottom of the hatch. My plans are to put a full length z-bed in my '71 Deluxe (for my wife and me) the rearender for one of my girls, and a child cot over the front seats for my other daughter.

These tent pages are originally © Joe Clark, 1994-2000.