A 1979 Volkswagen Camper, unearthed in a field, has been given a new lease of life during lockdown by a businessman in Skipton.
While walking his dog in June, Andrew Mear found the van near his home in Norwood Green, 20 miles from Skipton. It had a mere 24,000 miles on the clock when it was found, and although it wasn't in the best shape after years of being exposed to the elements, it was able to turn over with the help of a new battery.
Mear paid the owner £9,000 to acquire it, then spent six weeks working with local mechanics to restore it – adding a new starter motor, as well as upgrading the engine, repairing the passenger door, and giving it a full repaint.
The van is based on the Transporter T2, and features a pop-up roof and sliding rear door. The roof has been reworks into an expanding canopy with room for advertising banners, while the rear of the van opens up to reveal a small exhibition space. The whole idea of restoring the van was the help promote tourism once again, with staycations set to increase in popularity this year.
A new wrap, showing famous landmarks from around Skipton has been applied, too. Landmarks include the 700-year-old High Corn Mill with its historic waterwheel, Skipton Castle, High Street House and the town’s famous cobbled streets.
"It was one of those lightbulb moments when I realised I could help both my tenants around Skipton and the town itself, to be promoted in a novel new way," said Mear, chairman of the Skipton Business Improvement District (BID). "After the COVID-19 crisis, Skipton, like everywhere else could do with a bit of a boost and this seemed a great way to present some of our best-known sights in a fun and interesting way.
"The plan is that the van can be used by businesses in Skipton as a way to promote themselves during market and festival days. I’m particularly keen to help my independent tenants promote their businesses but the idea was for it to be a showcase piece for the whole town."
The van, which was funded by Mear's business, Eagerlux, with support from Jess Wright Graphics, local photographer Stephen Garnett, and Pelican Garage in Batley, will now be regularly displayed on the High Street during market and festival days, and will also be shown outside High Corn Mill, one of several historic properties around the town owned by Andrew.
"We are delighted that new life is continually breathed into one of our most iconic vehicles," Kate Thompson, head of press and PR at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. "Today’s iconic California and Grand California would be nothing without their heritage which dates back 70 years and the birth of the first ever Transporter.
"Over the years fans have continually restored and renovated the classic camper and we’re delighted this model has been rescued and put back into use for a worthy cause."