A while back I feel like I was being sent one particular internet-found video far more often than any other. And, it was easy to understand why, as the video was remarkable, especially for a Volkswagen Beetle geek like myself. It was that video that I’ve bet you’ve seen before, of a Beetle towing a camper via a roof-mounted gooseneck hitch, allowing it all kinds of bonkers manoeuvrability. We’d written about it long ago, but more recently one of these has been found and restored, likely the only one in the world.
Here’s that original video, a segment from a deep-Malaise-era car TV show called, imaginatively, Car and Track. I guess Road & Driver was taken:
OK, while, sure it would have been slow and a nightmare in crosswinds, you have to admit that setup is pretty cool. No need to attempt the painful cerebro-physical gymnastics of backing up a trailer when you can just turn around and shove it wherever it needs to go! It almost looks fun!
The trailer was built by a company called International Travel Trailer, and the model was the El Chico, and was intended for use with a number of small cars of the era; I suspect they tested it with Beetles and Pintos and probably Civics and maybe some Datsuns, too.
The son of the man driving in the famous video, Joe Bostian, wrote about it earlier this year, marveling at the continuing popularity of the video, knowing that his dad would have been delighted were he still alive.
He also suggests that very few seem to have actually been built, but actual numbers are still unknown. In the actual world, they seem all but extinct.
In 2014 one was found, the first time one had actually been even seen in the wild:
Incredibly, a few years after this one was found, another was discovered in Colorado, and this one was fully restored and paired with a lovely matching yellow 1971 Super Beetle. A full video of that one, with never before seen interior shots, came out last March on the Volkswear YouTube channel:
It’s pretty incredible to see this in all its restored glory. I’m impressed it has a bathroom with a toilet, though I think the position of the kitchen and stove right under the bedroom area is an invitation to put your foot into a pan of cooking bacon or something equally miserable.
Campers aren’t as common a target for full restorations as cars are, for a number of reasons including the presence of toilets and old bedding, but when it’s something as rare and striking as this, I’m delighted there’s people around with the time, resources, and will to make it happen.