Non-westy tents for splitties (-1967)
-- and other VWs

Note: per Bobbitt (p. 84), the English Danbury camper had an awning option. No pix or description. His book also has photos of Devon (Lisburne Garage) camper awnings on pp. 81 and 102; it's a fairly plain square generic thing with two outer poles and a peaked roof. Meredith (p. 115) has a photo of a Devon awning that is very similar to the modern QuickCanopy (I've seen an almost identical one elsewhere in literature for a Pitt Moto-Caravan). On p. 118, Meredith also mentions an "optional extension tent" for the "rare" Moortown Motors (Leeds, UK) conversion.

Volkswagen of America
Sundial/EZ Campers/Riviera/ASI
Dove Manufacturing / "Cool Tent"
Carbak Kampers
Puck Trailer Tents
Brazilian, Dormobile?, and the Mother of All Tents

Yes, the rightmost photo shows Jose and Miguel Ferrer setting up the tent while modeling the 1962 Brooks Brothers line. ;^)

According to Hedges, VWoA offered this tent through dealers for panels, kombis, and standards, as well as camper conversions. They have "flat roofs, longer awning design [than the privy style - jc], externally mounted frame poles, and often came with a three-quarter roof rack that included a matching roof tent for additional elevated sleeping capacity." (p. 42)

rear viewAgain relying on Hedges, the Sundial tents have frills along the edges of their flat-roofed awnings and use a shower-ring design for attaching the side panels. Stripe widths and styles varied. Hodges says there's even a two-sided Sundial tent for double-door busses (cf. below).

front viewAt long last I can show you a few photos, thanks to helpful readers. First, in April 1998, Scott Fraser posted a pic of a neighbor's tent that was for sale (at $350, and reportedly only set up twice in its life). That's what you see in the first two pictures here (Scott has offered to take more photos & pass them along).

Meanwhile I got a reply from the seller (Steve) -- all he could add was that "[the PO] only pulled it out of it's bag once & I the same. Poles are out of galv. steel. Brackets ( 2 ) mount to top of bus & sides hang from shower hooks."

image by Scott DoeringImmediately, alert type2 list readers Todd S. & Carrie W. and Rick confirmed that this was a Sundial. The third image is drawn from the late Josh Rodgers' very good Sundial Page, which I believe has been replicated somewhere but I've misplaced the URL.

All is not clear, though. (Compare the Privy Tent-like legs on the photo from Josh's site with the blue tent above!) Charles \"Luke\" Lukey wrote to say "The tent that has been called "Sundial to a T" is probably a tent made by the Beckel Canvas Company in Portland, OR. It's an exact match to the tents seen in the Northwest on Riviera campers. I've got one just like it (in green & white) for my '67 Riviera. The Beckel Canvas Company is still in business in Portland. They specialize in heavy pack tents for hunters. Great people - they sent me (free) a few small latches for my tent." Luke is looking for more info to add to his Riviera article.

riviera tentThe plot thickens: Jack Maynard submits this photo of "Dustin Mitsch, with a tent I sold him which matches perfectly his 66 Riviera camper. It is a Riviera tent, evident by the fringes, and hooks that allow it to be set up several different ways as far as the doorway. It has no floor, and is supported at the bus by a strip of metal that a bead in the end of the canvas rides into, and three poles out from the bus in the roof, and two down to the ground, fitting with normal american style plastic spike-ends into holes in the canvas and the other poles."

Jack added later: "I have seen what folks were calling a sundial tent and it had more of a scalloped overhang with very short fringe. Who knows who made the tent I call a riviera tent, but I know I have seen several on riv splitties that were obviously part of the original package sold at riv motors. Colors matched too well, and tent rail attached exactly like other examples of rivs. I confess I have much less experience with sundial, and for all I know sundial got their tents from the same place riviera did. I did see an ez camper here in corvallis with a similar tent, but it looked like it had been added to the bus much later than its original conversion."

So did Beckel make tents for Sundial and Riviera (and others?)? From some additional shots taken at the 1998 Bulli Brigade, you can see that this Sundial (?) tent has the classic shower-curtain sides, scalloped/fringed edge, and roof brackets:

shower curtain scallops & fringe roof bracket

Here are a couple of pics of Sundial roof brackets sent to me by Karl von Salzen from a bus in a junkyard:


Dove Manufacturing

These fold-out car-top tents with optional side awning/tent may be the ultimate accessory for those wanting to camp in style. A brochure sent to me by Michael Heron shows this device attached to the roofs of bugs and busses -- even freestanding on its own set of folding legs.

[Beetle Parts List]
[Beetle Version w/Text]
[Cartop Carrier]
[Java Time]
[Bus Version w/Text]
[Bus Parts List]
[Bus Version Drawing]

Available with a soft vinyl cover or optional padded and upholstered shell. Extras include a child's cot, folding table, flourescent lamps in 6 or 12V, and a ladder.

Clicking on any of these thumbnails will give you more details, including an almost unbelievable shot of an adult couple having a relaxing cup of java atop their sunroof Beetle. Enjoy.

West Coast Classics was reproducing the Dove as a "CoolTent", available in several colors and with optional extras like an awning and eating table. Supposedly they fit busses, beetles, ghias (wow!), and squarebacks. However, in March 1999 I heard from Jeff Kritz that manufacture was discontinued due to lack of consumer interest!

Carbak Campers

 John "Grungy" Gladu sent in these compelling shots of his Carbak Camper atop Frunobulax (ask him, not me). The main assembly is a flat-bottomed conestogaform tube with screens and rain flaps at either end.

Three internal metal hoops support the tube. At the rear, a plywood entry-step platform assembles with a vestibule (or perhaps, a non-Westy foyer?) to give access to a penthouse Bob Guccione never dreamed of.

John reports a few mysterious features: the D-tab/pocket thingies in the vestibule opening, as well as small pocket/windows on either side of the main cabin.

The remaining thumbnails link to additional views. John sent me a whole roll of shots of this well-constructed shelter, but I'm being lazy and selfish as usual. These should give you the idea. (Note that Frunobulax is equipped with the optional child's sleeping area instead of the stock powerplant.)

Thanks, John! BTW, he notes that he tried to contact Carbak 15 years ago and they were already out of business. And yet, rumors persist of a small, jungle-draped parts house just down the road from Busch Gardens.... Look for "Treasure Hunting in Seffner, Fla." in the next issue of Dumb Bunnies and Not VWs!

PS: John also sent me a copy of the instructions for the tent. (Update 2011: I've bought the Carbak from John but really don't have a way to use it, so I'm taking offers. Email me at jsclarkfl at gmail dot com.)

The Midwesty

The Midwesty was produced in the 1990s by an outfit called Red Bug. Since discontinued. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of this retro-styled tent.


There's a whole separate page devoted to canvas products that were formerly available from the Bus Barn.


Although not, strictly speaking, a tent for VWs, the tent attachment for the Puck camping trailer qualifies because the Puck was marketed as a trailer for VWs -- and it has a tent. December 1997 Hot VWs has more info on these, or check with Jim Ellis, who graciously supplied these images.

brazilian tentJack Maynard provides this bittersweet shot of "Eric Tipsword and his girlfriend Kim and their 65 dormobile that they later sold to a fellow who was hit while trailering it to Reno Nevada. The dormo was a total loss, but the tent and dorm top are supposed to be making a comeback on a panel bus sometime soon. The tent is plastic, with fabricado en brasil labeled on it and really authentic looking westy poles with westy hooks on the bus in the right places. Susan Crandall ... who owns more westy tents than probably anyone else alive, said she had never seen anything like it, and that the poles and hardware would pass for real german. The tent had windows with plastic curtains that opened up onto clear plastic sections with yellow plastic window pane markings, making it look like there were four panes of glass on each. Really different."

dormobile?Here's another mystery: a Dormobile roof with pink/white canvas (love the AC boot!) and matching canopy with windowed side curtains. A Dormobile tent? Homemade?

Last but not least, check out this ultimate groove:

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