The van life movement is a phenomena that goes beyond Millenials’ infatuation with all things retro. It’s such a popular concept that vintage VW bus rental companies are popping up in the west. Now it’s easier than ever to bring out the hippie in all of us.
Hit the Road in Vintage VW Camper Van Rentals (without the hassles of owning one!)
Whether you’re a Boomer who experienced the hippie heyday of the 1960s or a young ‘un who wishes they did, everyone seems to love the classic VW Westfalia van.
Volkswagen camper vans first hit Germany’s highways in 1951, when the Westfalia-Werke company created the first Volkswagen camper van conversions. Later when the pop-top roof tents were added from 1968 to 1979, the “Westie” van’s popularity exploded here in the states too.
With cooking, sleeping and sometimes toilet facilities on-board, the vans had everything a wandering hippie needed for a weekend joy ride or an open-ended road trip.
Sadly, DaimlerChrysler’s 1999 acquisition of the Westfalia-Werke’s van conversion division spelled the end of the beloved Volkswagen camper.
But Westie devotees have kept the machines alive and humming through the years. With the van life popularity at an all-time high, a core group of private vintage VW bus rental companies are riding the wave. Licensed drivers with a heart full of wanderlust (and a knack for manual transmissions) can now hop into vintage VW camper van rentals.
If you’ve ever wanted to hit the road in one of these classic Volkswagen vintage camper vans, but without the hassles of actually owning one, now’s your chance.
Where to get VW camper van rentals (mechanical aptitude not necessary)
As the former owner of a 1973 Westfalia camper van, I have firsthand experience with vintage bus ownership. I loved that little slow moving beast. But in the short time I owned my bright orange home on wheels, I had enough problems to convince me to sell it to a more experienced owner.
A steady, faint whiff of gasoline constantly permeated the cabin every time I drove. Starting up on cold mornings always involved a prayer. And the rusty floorboards gave me a beautiful view of the road beneath my feet. Every funky quirk added up to bigger problems best left to a mechanic who knows Volkswagen camper vans better than I do.
Thirty years later, what a thrill to see that I can actually rent one of these beauties. They are restored to a former glory that most like mine never enjoyed. Almost all VW van rentals seem to be located in the west. Here are a few reputable companies that seem worth checking out if you’re headed this way, and if you know how to work a stick shift vehicle.
West Coast Vintage VW Camper Van Rental Companies
One of the newest companies on the scene is Retro RVs, located in the heart of Southern Utah. Their fleet is pictured above. For anywhere from $40 to $190 per night, you can hop into one of six Volkswagen van rentals. Then head into nearby national park campgrounds without worrying that you won’t fit.
retroVWs co-owner Kevin Kennedy told the St. George News that “With our vans, we are going for the full camping experience,” Kennedy said. “Some of our vans have refrigerators and propane, but we also provide extra stuff like firewood, marshmallow sticks, heaters, sleeping bags and camp stoves for an additional charge.”
The best part? Each retroVWs VW van rental comes with an automatic fire extinguisher in the engine compartment! You also get roadside assistance and a replacement van if necessary.
More vintage VW van rental companies:
Central California Coast: Highway One Rentals
Los Angeles, California: Peace Van Rentals
Santa Barbara, California: Dustie Wagens
Orange County, California: Vintage Surfari Van Rentals
Western Montana: Dragonfly Van Rentals
British Columbia: Honest Camper
Vancouver British Columbia: Westfalia Van Rentals
Have you owned a Westie camper van? If so, we would love to hear about your experience. Comment below or in the iRV2 Discussion Forums’ “Vintage RVs” topic.
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.