Buying a Classic Air-Cooled Camper

Style of Camper

Split Screen

  • Design Icon of the Camper World
  • Tend to be a bit slow (unless they have been modified), however this can be part of the charm!
  • Often tin tops, unless modified - you will find you are bent over alot more!
  • Very few have walk throughs from the front to the rear. 
  • Cooker is often in the door.
  • Amazing experinece, nothing quite like it!

Bay Window

  • A more modern design in comparison with the Split Screen, including  brakes, suspension, steering and engines.
  • Many different conversion styles to choose from, allowing a lot more options to find the right one to meet your needs. 
  • Tend to be cheaper than the Split Screens

T25 / T3

  • The earlier models of these campers are air cooled and then the later models switched to water cooled engines.
  • Still fairly slow, but later models also include a 5 speed gearbox, allowing you to cruise at motorway speeds.
  • Doesn't have the same iconic feel of the Bay or Splitty, and a very different shape to get used to!

Body Condition

Once you have chosen your style of camper you will probably want to jump in and find one to visit, and buy! However one of the biggest problems of these beautiful vehicles is the rust. 


Where possible, do take someone with you how knows campers/vehicle mechanics. However we do have some tips for you to help check if you are buying a solid camper!


  • Visit on a dry day, in daylight! Seeing a camper in the rain is not ideal as you will not spot any blemishes, paint bubbling (hiding rust) , and it can be hiding any potential leaks. Seeing a camper in the dark (trust me, we have done this after misjudging the sunset times!) leads to the same issues.
  • If the Camper is being sold as 'restored', this does not mean that it will be perfect, or even that is has been done properly. Ask for photos of the resto before, during and after the work so you can see if new panels have been used, rather than filler. Ask to see receipts as well. If there arent pictures/receipts available you may well start seeing rust coming through quote soon, leading to costly body work!
  • If you suspect that lots of filler may have been used, you can carry out the magnet test.  Put a thin cloth such as a handkerchief between the magnet and the bodywork and see if it sticks. 
  • You can also spot filler by standing at the corner of teh camper and looking along the body panels - filler can show as rippling on the panel. (You can see a rippling on the sliding door of the yellow camper to the right).

Under Body Rust

Under-body rust is not just an issue for passing and MOT, it can cause catastrophic failure in the structural integrity of the camper, cause a very dangerous situation and it can cost an arm and a leg to sort our very bad rust issues. 


The first place to look is by viewing the underneath and bottom 6 inches of the camper. You will need to get underneath the camper so we recommend taking a towel to lie on, and a torch.


  •  The Box Chassis. THese are the two box rails running underneath for the length of the camper. They provide the structural strenght and should be free from rust. If you see any rust areas and can tap them and see if they are solid. You may see some welding on these - if you do check to see if the welding is of good quality as it can affect the structural integrity.