An iconic 1979 Volkswagen Camper has been rescued from a field and converted into a moving monument to Skipton by a local businessman aiming to boost tourism in the area following the COVID-19 lockdown.
Andrew Mear unearthed the classic campervan in a field near his home in Norwood Green, some 20 miles from Skipton, while out walking his dog in June and ended up paying the owner £9,000 to give it a new home.
Based on the Transporter T2, the camper features a pop-up roof and sliding rear door. The ‘barn find’, with just 24,000 miles on the clock, was in poor condition having been left to the elements – although with a new battery and a helping hand the engine still ran.
Within six weeks, the camper had been fully restored by Andrew and local mechanics with a new starter motor installed, the engine upgraded, the passenger door repaired and a fresh coat of paint applied. The pop-up roof has been re-purposed into an expanding canopy for advertising banners, while the back pops open to reveal an exhibition area which can be used to display product or offer food and drink samples.
It has also been fully wrapped in new graphics, showing famous landmarks from around his beloved Skipton. Features of the new livery include the 700-year-old High Corn Mill with its historic waterwheel, Skipton Castle, High Street House and the town’s famous cobbled streets.
Andrew, chairman of the Skipton Business Improvement District (BID), said: “It was one of those lightbulb moments when I realised I could help both my tenants around Skipton and the town itself, to be promoted in a novel new way. After the COVID-19 crisis, Skipton, like everywhere else could do with a bit of a boost and this seemed a great way to present some of our best-known sights in a fun and interesting way.
“The plan is that the van can be used by businesses in Skipton as a way to promote themselves during market and festival days. I’m particularly keen to help my independent tenants promote their businesses but the idea was for it to be a showcase piece for the whole town.”
The distinctive camper van will now be a regular sight on the High Street during market and festival days, and showcased outside High Corn Mill, one of several historic properties around the town owned by Andrew. The renovation project was funded by Andrew’s business, Eagerlux, with support from Jess Wright Graphics, local photographer Stephen Garnett and Pelican Garage located in Batley.
Kate Thompson, Head of Press and PR at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said: “We are delighted that new life is continually breathed into one of our most iconic vehicles. Today’s iconic California and Grand California would be nothing without their heritage which dates back 70 years and the birth of the first ever Transporter. Over the years fans have continually restored and renovated the classic camper and we’re delighted this model has been rescued and put back into use for a worthy cause.”