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What is a Pop Up Camper Van?

camper van

Roy A. Faye of Cambridge, Massachusetts, built his concept of a yacht on the land vehicle in 1908 by converting a Matheson touring car that would feature four foldable bunks within its cabin. The canvas tent installed was fourteen feet long and was sewn into the hood of the Matheson so that it could be folded up and down as a means to create shelter for Faye and his friends would make use of during their hunting trips in Maine. This little invention served as the beginning of the "auto-camping craze that swept the American nation from 1910 until 1921. It was during this time many owners of the Ford Motel Ts into campers that would grace the newly developed network of roads that accommodate what are the earliest examples of pop-up camper vans.

Tin Lizzy, Kamper Kits, and Splitty

Zagelmeyer is the company credited for coming up with the Tin Lizzy, which served as the earliest examples of pop-up camper vans for the categorized group of people known as Tin Can Tourists. To offset the effects of America's Prohibition laws, Anheuser-Busch got in on the pop-up camper van action by converting their fleet of delivery trucks into what became commonly referred to as Kamper Kits. When the year 1949 rolled around, Volkswagen officially raised the bar of recreational vehicle design by introducing the first official pop-up camper van with a model affectionately named Splitty. This Tier 2 split-window camper version of Volkswagen's van line was available with pop-up roofs offered by Westfalia, an outfitter the German-based vehicle manufacturing company recruited to specialize in a market they still dominate to this day. Pop-up campers, like every other automobile, have evolved over the years since their original roots. Volkswagen led by example how to properly assemble the ideal hotel on wheels that are easily driven around as a street-safe van, yet becomes a cozy hangout when its time to take a break. As time and technology continue in their quest to keep up with the demands of the consumer base, pop-up campers have done the best they could to keep pace. However, with the evolvement of recreational vehicles growing much larger in size than a regular van, the competition to keep families interested in pop-up campers became more intense. Granted, the size and comfort of pop-up campers increased significantly since its 1949 origin, but when it comes to measuring them up against recreational vehicles that are sometimes larger in size than a singular width mobile home, it seemed to become obsolete among family-size travelers who felt it was too compact for their taste.

Along Comes Minimalism and Tiny Living

Now with the growing movement against climate change, the demand to produce more eco-friendly vehicles has caused many manufacturers to reinvent themselves and their products. Between this issue and fuel costs reaching levels that have also contributed towards the push to break away from the usage of fossil fuels, a big race has developed to bring forth electric vehicles (EV). This race started with smaller e-vehicles such as motorcycles and scooters, which were then followed by compact and subcompact cars. Since then, as knowledge and technology revolving around e-vehicles has improved, larger machines have begun to introduce themselves to the discerning consumer base of car enthusiasts. This also happens to include enthusiasts of recreational vehicles, including pop-up camper vans. While more consumers demand and engage in the lifestyle choice of either minimalism or tiny living, the pop-up camper vans are now coming back in style, especially now that e-camper vans have begun to grace the highways. Furthermore, with fuel prices reaching cost levels that no longer make large recreational vehicles drive around anymore, the far more economical benefits of pop-up camper vans are becoming more favored by the day.

Modern Pop Up Camper Vans

Today's pop-up camper vans have never been so convenient. For singles and couples who literally live on the road with no real fixed address, the pop-up camper van is not just a hotel on wheels for them. It is their home. The more luxurious lines of these specialized camper vans are equipped with their own kitchen, seating area and sleeping area, and even a full bathroom. When looking into the 2021 solar-powered Thor Motor Coach Tellaro 20AT, this recreational vehicle has everything a person needs, including its own toilet and shower facility. According to Motor Trend, this particular pop-up camper van is the best money can buy for 2021. On average, the 2021 Thor Motor Coach Tellaro 20AT sells for $93,000 USD. At $93,000 USD, the 2021 Thor Motor Coach Tellaro 20AT actually sold for less money than the 1978 Volkswagen Microbus that has recently been nicknamed the Bitcoin of classic cars. At an auction held in France, the successful bid of nearly $110,000 USD. It came already equipped with the highly coveted Campmobile Kit, which is facing the same trend patterns as the Tin Lizzy, and the Kamper Kit. Owners wishing to convert their regular passenger vans, cargo vans, and even school buses, are doing this by having retrofits installed to turn them into pop-up camper vans. Because of the rise in popularity of pop-up camper vans, the value of the Volkswagen Microbus (otherwise known as Type 2 or Bulli) has been climbing, especially now that Volkswagen has offered its factory restoration program to modernize the classics to meet with today's technological demands.

Full Breakdown of a Pop-Up Camper Van

The classic pop-up camper vans that started it all in 1949 merely started out as a regular van that allowed its roof to pop up to serve as a more comfortable sleeping area. Over time, there has been an installment of mini-kitchens, and other amenities that helped make overnight or weekend trips a bit more convenient. Those conveniences include electrical outlets to run small appliances and televisions. As the world becomes more technical, so have the pop-up camper vans. While Volkswagen is the official grandfather of the actual concept, design, and production of pop-up camper vans, they are as dominant now as they were back in 1949. Yes, they are still regarded as one of the top leaders of the pop-up camper pack, but there has been stiff enough competition that has given this German-based automotive company a good run for their money. The infamous Winnebago specializes in recreational vehicles and has recently come out with its 2021 4x4 Revel series, which is modeled after the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis. It's much pricier than Thor's 2021 Motor Coach Tellaro 20AT as the 2021 Winnebago 4x4 Revel asks at least $196,000 USD for this brand.

Benjamin Smith

Written by Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith is one of the managing editors of Moneyinc. Ben's been focusing on the auto and motorcycle sector since 2005. He's written over 1000 articles in the space and continues to learn about it each day. His favorite car is "any Bugatti" and he's a die hard Harley Davidson fan.

Read more posts by Benjamin Smith

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