Split screen insurance
Just after the war, Dutch Volkswagen importer Ben Pon had the inspired idea of creating a van based on VW’s Beetle car. By 1950, the Volkswagen Type 2 (T1) ‘ Split Screen’ (or ‘Splittie’ to its millions of devotees) was born.
The versatility of the VW van meant it could be produced in many different forms. The first official camper van conversions were completed by sub-contractors Westfalia-Werke in 1951. These were known as the ‘Camper Box’ and over 8,000 were produced in the years up to 1958. Similar conversions to split-screen Type 2s were completed in Westfalia, as part of VW’s Special Model range, until German production ended in 1967.
The popularity of the split-screen camper soon spread worldwide, with companies including Devon Conversions Ltd in the UK and Riviera Motors/Automotive Services Inc. in the US also carrying out conversions.
The first split-screen conversions were supplied with a simple awning, supported by a pair of poles and guy-ropes. This was soon upgraded to a small, enclosed vestibule style tent, and then larger, fixed versions were introduced. From 1965 until the demise of the ‘Splittie’ in 1967, colourful ‘Big Top’ style awnings became available, offering the added advantage of a stand-alone construction.
Further improvement came in the form of larger engine sizes, with power increasing from 1131cc in the early days, up to 1500cc by the end of split-screen production.