The SO42 is to many the pinnacle of the VW camper evolution. Built not only with blessing from Volkswagen but in partnership with them (VW would give Westfalia early sight of prototypes and production changes to suggest improvements that could be made to the camper), it came to be regarded as the Rolls Royce of campers because of its high quality furniture & fittings as well as its practical use of space.
By the time this SO42 rolled out of the Westfalia Werks in ‘66 they had evolved into highly specialised and versatile campers. Driven across almost every continent and under all conceivable conditions, the early marketing material promised a picture-perfect camping experience often in exotic locations, and their rugged design and bulletproof mechanicals meant they would happily live up to this dream.
Taking my cue from Porsches own use of the VW Kombi as a support vehicle for it’s 1950’s and ‘60’s racing…
it seemed a natural choice as a support vehicle for my race exploits. This particular SO42, ultra-rare in RHD form, was exported to Australia and was obviously well cared for, requiring little more than a rub down and repaint by Luke Theochari of Terry’s Beetle Services in the original velvet green back in the mid-Noughties, before I bought her (Lottie) in 2008. Everything is original other than the CSP ventilated front disc brakes and heavy-duty Avo/Bilstein shocks, CSP Python exhaust and a pair of very correct 42 DCNF Weber carbs as the only concessions to cope with modern traffic. Neil Melliard of Prosign (ph 07768 901853) hand-painted the sign written logos on the bus to complete the transformation.
Perhaps surprisingly the 1600cc engine happily pulls the fully laden camper, complete with 60 litres of fuel, tools, camping equipment and spares at 55mph on the flat with the racecar in tow. Hills are a problem though and there are a surprising number in the UK so a period correct two litre engine with 84mm Okrasa crank, Scintilla magneto, and NOS EMPI 88mm slipper skirt pistons in Mahle aluminium barrels, providing stump-pulling torque will be fitted shortly. Coupled with a taller differential it should happily bumble along at 70mph up hill and down dale.
And the best part? Relaxing on the plaid seats with the roof up after a days racing with a glass of red wine, chatting to mates about the days adventures. Here’s the bus leading the 356 parade down the hill at Hedingham as part of the Porsche GB club’s ‘Classics at the Castle’ in 2014: