- This German makes Americans cheer
- "This bus is amazing!"
- “Is there a bed up there too? Amazing! "
- The VW bus arrives, the cell phones are pulled out
- "Why is Volkswagen missing out on such a deal?"
This German makes Americans cheer
Meeting in Venice Beach: Old Bullis are often seen in the USA, the current VW California only for its 30th anniversary
Source: Stephan Lindloff
In the USA people resent Volkswagen a lot. However, despite the emissions scandal, the people there love the old Bulli. And with the new VW California you are even treated like a rock star.
W.what does the guy want from me? Zigzags in front of me in his white open BMW 428i convertible, gesticulating wildly. Am I to fast? Too slow? Did I cut it or am I just in the way? In Berlin that can be enough for wild horn concerts.
But I’m not in Berlin, I’m in Los Angeles. And I don’t struggle along the congested Leipziger Strabe, but rather along the even more congested Pacific Coast Highway in the direction of Malibu. My car: a white VW T6 California.
The BMW driver keeps appearing in front of or next to me for the next ten kilometers. When he’s not taking photos of the VW bus with his cell phone, he makes lasso movements with his right arm, as if trying to catch me. But maybe he just wants to signal to me that something is wrong with the camper not true.
With the VW bus through the USA: By American standards, the T6 is a rather small van
Source: Stephan Lindloff
At the next opportunity I take the exit and stop in a supermarket parking lot. Next to me, the BMW driver jumps out of his convertible. Before I get out, my inner voice tries to warn me: “Are you crazy? You don’t drive into a parking lot with a complete stranger! ”But then my pursuer is already facing me.
Love for the VW bus
Do you want an old Bulli? This man can help
VW buses are in the USA No rarity. Especially in California and Oregon one constantly encounters older models of the T2, T3 or T4 series. Many are in daily use, as surfers, craftsmen or family cars. Some are in a shabby condition and have been standing unused by the roadside for years, while others have been perfectly restored and are only used for classic car meetings.
Bulli owners like to paint their buses in bright colors and cover them with political messages: "I’m so glad – Obamacares", "Hillary for America" or "Zappa for President". However, you will look in vain for the current bus in the American VW range.
"This bus is amazing!"
The Bulli, which is being built near Hanover, was taken out of the program in the United States 15 years ago. And the California camping model, which was first offered on the basis of the T3 in 1988, never even made it to California made.
In the supermarket parking lot, a youthful-looking man in his mid-sixties beams at me, introduces himself as Neil and rattles off: “What’s going on here? That’s great! This bus is amazing! ”His vocabulary seems almost entirely from Awsome! Amazing! and great! to pass.
While I tell him that I’m driving the current camper through California on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the VW California, he looks for something on his cell phone. "Look at that. That’s me, my younger me, with my bus. ”In the photo, a long-haired hippie is standing next to a T2 van. He even owned "two Folkswaggn campers". "And now I want the one you have there."
Hotel California: With a VW camper you always have your small holiday apartment with you. However, without a toilet and shower
Source: Stephan Lindloff
Neil wants to know everything about the bus. How many PS? 204. Diesel? No, a 2.0 TSI petrol engine with dual clutch transmission and all-wheel drive. How does he drive? As easy as a VW Golf. How fast does it go? 125 miles per hour, so just under 200 km / h.
My judgment? I tell him that I once had a VW bus myself and that I like this mixture of a not-so-big motorhome, which you can easily drive on ferries in, and a practical everyday car.
Weak points? I report that the bus swallows too much for me (rarely less than 10.5 liters) and that it takes some practice to convert the rear bench seat into a bed. And that there is no toilet or shower.
“Is there a bed up there too? Amazing! "
That doesn’t scare Neil off. He has me show him everything in the supermarket parking lot. The small kitchen with gas stove, sink and refrigerator. “Awsome!” The rotating passenger seat, the various storage compartments and the retractable awning, the two camping chairs that are housed in the tailgate and the camping table that is hidden in the sliding door. “Great, that’s clever and saves a lot of space. We used to just throw everything we wanted to take with us onto the bus. "
I raise the red pop-top roof automatically (it takes exactly 22 seconds) and show him where I’ll sleep tonight, namely up there. This saves me having to remodel my dining and living room. “Amazing, there’s a bed up there too! A tent on top of the car. Great! ”Of course, he slept in his buses, too, but he converted them into a camper himself.
Tent on the roof: the pop-up roof can be raised at the push of a button; this creates an additional bed
Source: Stephan Lindloff
Neil is absolutely over the moon. Only the information that Volkswagen has not been selling the Hanover-built VW bus in the USA since 2003 – i.e. after the end of the T4 – does not please him. At that time, the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles division had withdrawn completely from North America because the sales figures were too low.
It may look different with the next Bulli. If you believe in the I.D. Buzz, the next generation could drive electrically and then also be offered in America. However, this should not be expected before 2022.
The VW bus arrives, the cell phones are pulled out
Later on my trip I met Martin, a suntanned, muscular Californian with long, blond curly hair. Just like you would imagine a Californian surfer.
He’s sitting bare-chested in a folding chair in the Venice Beach parking lot, with his old VW camper parked behind him. He lived in it for several years. Today the bus serves as an office and material store for his surf school. The VW bus as a symbol of freedom, as a never-ending summer of love.
Martin is a surfer as you would imagine. He used to live in his VW bus, today a VW bus serves as an office for his surf school
Source: Stephan Lindloff
You can also rent this Bulli lifestyle. Bill Staggs, for example, rents out T2 and T3 campers in the small town of Costa Mesa south of Los Angeles. The Bullis have no power steering or air conditioning, the demand from "VW Surfari" is still great.
Back to Neil in the parking lot. He cannot understand why VW is no longer offering the bus in the USA. Surely he is not the only American who also likes this new camper.
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Right. He is photographed almost everywhere I go on my bus trip and I am questioned about him. People who watch their Lamborghini refuel in Santa Monica, or passers-by on their Uber on the side of the road in downtown L.A.-Drivers are waiting – almost all of them pull out their smartphones.
The two young guys who are standing next to me at the traffic lights in a black Dodge Challenger on my way to Los Padres Forest keep pointing at me, discussing wildly, and just before the traffic light turns green, they raise their thumbs.
Kitchen, living and dining room in one. And if you fold down the back seat, you also have a very comfortable bed
Source: Stephan Lindloff
Neil will have been the only one on the tour who literally threw himself in front of the car to take a closer look.
It is well known that Americans are enthusiastic, but these reactions to a VW still surprise me. In contrast to the first Bulli generations, such a T6 is designed in a rather cool Lower Saxony style. Still, people are freaking out as if the iconic T2 has risen again.
"Why is Volkswagen missing out on such a deal?"
I tell Neil about these encounters and that something like this would never happen to me in Germany. There is a VW bus on almost every corner, regardless of whether it is a van or a camper van. Neil feels confirmed. "Well, you see, the people here would buy the car too."
And it’s good for the brand’s image, especially after the diesel scandal. “Why don’t they sell this here? Why is Volkswagen Missing out on such a deal? ”In response to my objection that it might be because of the price, Neil replies:“ Oh, what will the car cost? Let me guess. 50,000, maximum 60,000 dollars! "
In 1988 the first VW California came on the market. It was based on the T3 and cost 39,900 marks
Source: Stephan Lindloff
When he learns that he has made a mistake by almost half – the fully equipped bus, which he is leaning against, costs around 80,000 euros – he says “Oh Shit!” For which he apologizes immediately. “Man, that’s really a lot of money.” He wants to know whether we Germans really spend that much on a small camper.
I tell him how crazy my compatriots are about mobile homes in general and about the VW bus in particular. If I could remember the numbers better, I would have reported to Neil that in 2017 more VW California cars were sold than ever before, namely 15,155 units. Around 160,000 California were built in three decades. This makes the compact camper the most successful motorhome of its kind.
"Well, that’s a lot of money, but it doesn’t matter, I would still buy it." He dreams of selling his house and traveling around the world in a hippie bus with his wife. Finally, he suggests a swap: his BMW convertible for the VW bus. How about it?
Many older Bullis in the USA are brightly painted. This specimen from Portland is called Doula and enchants with its long eyelashes
Source: Denise Juchem
The trip with the T6 California was supported by VW. You can find our standards of transparency and journalistic independence at www.axelspringer.de/unabhaengigkeit
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9 thoughts on “VW T6 California: This VW bus makes Americans cheer”
VW no longer comes into my house, I now had to have my Passat TDI from 2014 (cheat diesel) converted, actually I wanted to refuse the software update, but I was threatened with shutdown. Now he needs almost a liter more fuel and I waited in vain for compensation, like in the USA -> VW, no thanks!
With American driving style and fuel prices, the petrol engines are exactly right, the TSI pushes well and in the long term maybe not everyone is concerned with 8 or 12 liters of consumption. You have to like it, then you can do it. In Europe too, because the United States doesn’t even have a car…
The price of a T6 California is high, but anyone looking for one today will find that the T3 / T4 / T5 Calis also cost a lot. Drive for a long time and don’t complain after three years.
When specifying the price, did the editor also take into account that the prices in the USA are quoted net? 80,000 euros net would actually be a lot for a VW campervan.
I took a good look at the Calfornia and ended up with the Ford Nugget. I was particularly impressed by the ingenious room concept with the kitchen in the back, along with the unbeatable price / performance ratio.
According to the price list, the basic VW California model is available from EUR 42,500. For EUR 80,000, the editor must have chosen the ultimate equipment.
No folks, you don’t need to worry about a product from the Volkswagen Group anymore. My VW that I once owned was a permanent customer in the workshop.
It was already very bad before because of the absolutely poor quality. My uncle and aunt in Seattle had VWs and they were just shitty.
Interesting, over 10 liters. I have a T5 California – a very comparable vehicle with a BlueTech diesel of 144 hp. The way I drive it, it consumes less than 7 liters per 100km. So much for the VW diesel scandal. Go ahead and buy gasoline engines that eat up 10 liters. And hardly anyone needs four-wheel drive in a Bulli. No automatic either. The TDI is so elastic that it can also be driven with Speedcontrol. Saves everything on fuel.
@ Manfred H.
To put your comparison into perspective: Your vehicle needs just under 6 kg (7 l) of diesel per 100 km, which corresponds to 71 kWh. The petrol engine requires 8.5 kg (10 l), which corresponds to 85 kWh. As a result, the gasoline engine needs 20% more energy than your diesel and that with a 40% higher available maximum power (204 vs. 144 PS)!
Well, the fact that the one presented here was fully equipped is one thing. But you can get a BEACH for less than € 80k.