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Camper vans come together at Fritton festival

PUBLISHED: 11:18 23 August 2010 | UPDATED: 11:57 16 September 2010

THEY are iconic vehicles which have been the wheels of choice for globe trotters, festival-goers and rock stars for six decades.

And at the weekend more than 3,000 van owners and fanatics descended on Fritton Lake Country Park to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the VW camper van.

THEY are iconic vehicles which have been the wheels of choice for globe trotters, festival-goers and rock stars for six decades.

And at the weekend more than 3,000 van owners and fanatics descended on Fritton Lake Country Park to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the VW camper van.

The three-day festival, named the VW Whitenoise Weekend, was the eight of its kind, celebrating all things Volkswagen and giving owners a chance to share their love of the iconic camper vans.

Owners of vintage VW camper vans are a dedicated bunch, lavishing care, attention and money on their beloved wheels. Ash Pursey, 37, had travelled to the festival in his 1963 split screen panel van from Bedford with his dog Toby.

He believes his Polifac Autowax panel van is the last in the world.

“I have had it for about a year and a half. The company went under in the 1970s and I found it in Austria,” he said. “I restore them as a hobby and I restored two or three to get this one. It is in its original condition and is worth about £10,000 to £12,000 as it is.

“I totally rebuilt the engine and rewired it and I have done everything underneath. This one has taken me about 150 hours.”

Asked about the appeal of the camper van he said: “It is a California surfing thing. It is the van everybody wants to put their surf boards on the roof.”

Mark Thomas, 43, from Norwich, was at the festival with his partner Heather and son Benjamin, five, in his left-hand drive 1959 German ex-firebus, with split screen.

He said: “I have had this one for about four or five years. I have also got a '72 bay window and a VW Corrado. They are just iconic and as long as people maintain them, they are very reliable.”

A festival-goer who referred to himself as Mossie, 40, from Clare in Suffolk, took along his 1955 split-screen Kombi, which he has had for about 10 years and has spent about £20,000 on.

“It was originally from Switzerland and was delivered to Berne in 1955,” he said.

“People just smile when they see them and that makes me smile. When I am driving along everybody stops and points. They make people happy. They are just really iconic.”

Kevin Baker, 37, from Gorleston, took along his 1957 Kombi van with split screen. “I have had it for 18 months. I have always wanted one as long as I can remember. I was not getting any younger and I thought it was now or never.”

Barry Craske, from Norwich, imports camper vans from America and helped organise the event.

He said: “I like taking the family away to events like this and camping at the weekend. They say you get smiles per hour rather than miles per hour. You are buying into a lifestyle and the surfing scene.”

The event was organised by Lucy Haughey and her husband Neil, who live at Thorpe St Andrew, near Norwich.

Mrs Haughey said: “We have been doing it for eight years and it has just grown and grown.

“I think Fritton Park as a venue is really good. The VW scene is very inclusive. It is a lifestyle people are drawn to.”

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the VW camper van, festival organisers attempted to find one from every year from 1950 to 2010. As well as the 60th anniversary line-up there was a Show 'N' Shine competition with owners of top-notch camper vans fighting for a coveted trophy, along with live music and dozens of trade stands.

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