The van camper culture never made it onto our shores. Quite a shame really. But not surprising. There’s a bunch of stuff that doesn’t make it here. Blame it on our crippling import taxation systems or our nitpicking for the absolute best for the absolute cheapest or our fuel-efficient state-of-mind. And that has transformed the automotive scene here to somewhat of a nightmare, with only a sliver of exciting and unorthodox cars actually available for the common public. But in other major countries, the van is as much a part for their culture as 3-cyl fuel-efficient hatches are to ours. And that’s why they get the Volkswagen California. What began as a sketch of an ‘overgrown loaf of bread’ based on the Beetle by Ben Pon in 1949 gradually evolved into an icon loved by surfers and campers. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the Type 2 van really gained traction in America. But when it did, it paved the way for the single largest contemporary counterculture episode: the hippie movement. Now the van’s roots can be traced back 70 years, but VW has been constantly upgrading the fleet. In 1967, came the Bay (an evolution of the Type 2). Then from 1979, the company rolled out the T4, T5, and the T25 which were immensely popular, but didn’t really gain the status of a cult icon like the Type 2 did. Well maintained examples of the original, humble Type 2, fondly called “Splitty”, can cost as much as $50,000 or roughly 34 lakh in Indian rupees. And it’s now the era of the T6.


In its sixth generation, Volkswagen takes the ‘camper van’ concept onto the next level with the California Ocean. The camper has basically everything you’ll need – including a sink, two-burner stove, on-board fresh and waste water tanks, gas storage compartment, four-berth accommodation, masses of storage and the signature pop-up roof that’s been a hallmark of Volkswagen campers down the ages. There’s also an optional fold-out awning, in case you feel the need to chill outside. But what will you sit on, you ask? Two full-size chairs are hidden within the tailgate and sit flush when not in use. Up front, there are 180° swivelling driver and passenger seats along with armrests, numerous storage compartments, atmospheric lighting, and a pull-out folding table. And of course, the living areas of both the Beach and Ocean variants double up as a cosy bedroom with pull-down blinds, while the Ocean’s electrically operated and the Beach’s manually operated pop-up roofs create a generous upper berth.

The campers have a 2.0-litre mill available in both, a diesel and a petrol guise. Both of which are offered in a 147bhp and 201bhp option. And if you feel like exploring terra firma unknown, there’s also an all-wheel drive variant to pull you out of tough spots. All of this, however, comes at a price. A base level California Ocean will set you back by £53,267 in the UK. Roughly about 47 lakh in Indian rupees. There are a lot of optional accessories which bump the price up by quite a margin. But what one should keep in mind while opting for this is that you’re not just buying a motor vehicle. But along with it, a home too. So once you buy one, you can checkout anytime you like, but you’ll never want to leave.

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