Camper van enthusiast compares old and new in Exeter

It might have a few miles on the clock – but John Gough’s 1968 Volkswagen camper van looks like it’s just come out of the showroom.

And even standing alongside its 2012 equivalent, the California, at the Volkswagen retailer, Carrs Van Centre, in Exeter it can still hold its own.

But it wasn’t always the case.

When John, from Polsloe, bought the Westfalia Camper in 2006 it was in a pretty sorry state and it has taken him four years of hard work to get it into its current condition.

He said: “It might not have all the hi-tech features of the modern day equivalent Volkswagen camper van, the California – which is fantastic – but what it lacks in facilities it more than makes up for in its iconic feel.

“It’s a superbly well made vehicle and it deserves to be in the tip top condition it now is.”

The camper started life on the road in America. It was owned by a woman who lived in California but spent much of her time touring around the various states and over 20 years she covered some 110,000 miles.

When she finally had to part with her beloved Volkswagen it was brought back to the UK and had two subsequent owners before John bought it and started restoring it to its former glory.

He did most of the work himself, although he had to get a little help with the welding and the final spray finish.

But it’s testament to the quality of his efforts that the camper van scooped three awards from the two shows that he entered it into during 2011.

And there’s no doubting its reliability. John has been on holiday to France, Belgium and Holland in the camper since restoring it.

Stephen Weedon, Carrs Volkswagen Van Centre’s head of business, admitted it was good to see John’s restored vehicle alongside the current California.

He said: “John has obviously taken great care of his camper van and it certainly attracted some attention from staff and customers while it was in the showroom.

“I’m sure he would like some of the modern equipment found in the California, but his Westfalia looks as good as new and it was great to see it lined up against the models from today.”

John, who works in marine maintenance, is now anxious to contact the vehicle’s former Californian owner so he can show her photographs of just how good it looks after being fully restored.

He hasn’t quite tracked her down yet – but says he is getting close.