April 08, 2013

The Volkswagen California celebrates its 25 year anniversary

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is celebrating the 25th birthday of the Volkswagen California at Techno Classica (April 10-14 2013). The vehicle's production figures are fitting for an anniversary: around 100,000 California vans have come off the assembly line over
the past 25 years.

Air travel was expensive, tents were no longer in vogue. The camping vacation in a camping van experienced its greatest boom in the 1980s. As in years before, visiting and exploring Southern Europe was the primary attraction - but no longer with a tent, towed camper, car or train, but with a camper van purchased especially for this purpose. This led to an entirely new type of vacationing - two days here, three days there. Greater individual freedom could hardly be experienced - far removed from everyday obligations. For Volkswagen, this was reason enough to put its own camper van on wheels - the California.

The idea was not entirely new. For a long time, Westfalia had been building a camper van named the Joker, which was based on the VW Transporter. The basic layout of this custom camper van proved to be very practical over the years. A folding bench seat for two persons at the rear, which could be laid flat for reclining, and a narrow kitchen counter along the left side of the interior with a refrigerator, gas stove and sink and storage space. This type of layout leaves a large space for entry through a wide sliding door. However, the Joker with its well-conceived detailed layout and many small extras had become unaffordable for the average customer. And this is precisely where Volkswagen stepped in. With a thick red pencil and an eye towards significantly higher production volumes, designers trimmed the features of the Joker down to a healthy level. The success of this diet: a low entry-level price of just 39,900 German Marks.

This set the stage for an entire generation of California camper vans, an idea that would be expressed over the next 25 years. Unlike high-roof vehicle models and those with a long wheelbase, the California featured a pop-top roof that articulated at the rear over all of its years and generations. The exhibited models also show this feature. While most are the T3 'base version' of the California model of those days, the 'Freestyle' is also on display - it is the most coveted and late special model and is based on the T4. The exhibition finishes with a current California Beach Edition, which once again embodies the initial basic idea of an economical camping van.

In the current fifth-generation California, two 2.0-litre TSI engines (110 kw/150 ps and 150 kw/ 204 ps) and five TDI engines are offered. Their power outputs: 62 kw (84 ps), 75 kw (102 ps) to 84 kw (114 ps) in the BlueMotion and 103 kw (140 ps) to 132 kw (180 ps). The two powerful TDI engines and the TSI engines are paired with a six-speed manual gearbox. It is also possible to combine some of the engines with DSG and 4Motion. 17-inch wheels are used in combination with all-wheel drive or the 132 kw (180 ps) biturbo. The driver is supported by ABS, ASR, ESP and hill hold assist as well as a trailer stabilisation system that comes when a towing pack is ordered. Today's entry-level price for the California is 38,187.10 euros.


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