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We have power!
One thing that can take a little getting to used, when turning on the ignition of a classic VW, is the driving experience that lies ahead. For most people 10 mins is all it takes to relax into a laid back vibe, where the journey there is all part of the fun, not just the destination. Chugging along happily at 55mph feels great as you notice your surroundings more and revel in the simplicity of an upright driving position with a huge steering wheel to manhandle.
Compared to the car you’re used to driving, manually winding up a VW window is a novelty and actually quite cool compared to pressing a boring switch. A four-speed gearbox is just fine by me, I don’t need the latest flappy paddle tiptronic auto transmission. A couple of levers for lights and wipers is all that’s needed on a camper dashboard. Why do modern cars now consider drivers so dumb they come with automatic rain detectors and sensors to tell you it’s dark?
In summary, the old school feel of a VW is all part of the charm and that’s a welcome experience after the mundane efficiency of todays modern car, where the driver is often detached from real driving pleasure.
However, if there’s one thing that most owners can at some point admit to struggling with, it’s the heavy steering of a VW. It’s no big deal when you’re on the move, but parking, roundabouts and pulling away from junctions will usually have you flexing muscles whilst grappling with the steering wheel. Attempting to park in my, admittedly very narrow, garage which requires driving in at an angle can be a real pain in the backside too.
But there is a solution. Litesteer are a company that have developed power assisted steering for VW campervans and last week Mango was given the treatment by Neil from their base in the heart of East Sussex. I won’t go into detail on the technicalities of the system as there’s lots of information on the website, but speaking to Neil it’s clear that he is a very clever guy with real passion for what he does. Total installation time was just over three hours and after saying my goodbyes to Neil and Gaby, I must admit to being blown away by how easy the camper was to manoeuvre.
I stopped twice in the first ten minutes of driving to try out some u-turns! Pulling out of a petrol station with a coffee in one hand (naughty I know), was something that I would previously never have been able to do. And the best bit? Parking into the garage with the ease of just one hand gently turning the wheel as I backed up into my garage was bliss. Check out the video demo here
So Mango whilst retaining all the old school charm of a proper classic camper has been given the wonders of modern technology and is all the better for it. Thanks Neil & Gabby.