Adventure 8: Vanfest ’03

Monday, September 22, 2003

Friday 19 – Sunday 21 September 2003

For our first full VW van festival we went to Vanfest. We’ve never seen so many VW campers and vans in one place! There were 5500 to be precise.

The run up from London, after work, on Friday took four hours and by the time we arrived it was 11.30pm and we were directed into the “Early and Late Arrivals” field by the main entrance. We were exhausted.


We were woken by the warm sun and sounds of people waking up. Emerging from the van we got our first view of the Malvern Hills that provide a beautiful back-drop to the Three Counties Showground.

After coffee and toast we explored the site. There were stalls selling parts, novelties and whole rusting vans. Later we drooled over some gorgeous split screen vans in the display ’50 years of VW Transporters’. There were some great examples of vans in the Show and Shine. They inspired us to polish up the Devon 21 a bit more!

In the afternoon we chilled out for a few hours back at the van. A chap approached us and introduced himself as Dave and looking at the van asked “Do you know what you’ve got there?”. We said “Err, a 1977 Devon?” “Yep and it’s a Devon 21”. Dave went on to explain that to celebrate their 21st year and the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, Devon made a limited edition of 50 campers called the ‘Devon 21’. He knows of six still intact with the original interior, as the Devon 21 has. We were delighted to find this out and equally deighted to find out that this meant our van would be worth £8000 if given a fresh paint job! Mark went to look at Dave’s van and saw he’d had a graphic made for the side door to match the one in the manual (see the picture above). Yet more encouragement for us to look after the Bus well.

With big grins on our faces we prepared sirloin steak with new potatoes and baby vegetables. As an aperitif Dave made cosmopolitan and sea breeze cocktails with ice suplied by a site bar. As darkness fell we explored the fun fair and entertainment hall. It wasn’t our type of thing so we got burgers and chips, then turned in for the night.


A cooked breakfast was what we needed in the morning. The first thing to do was to buy the bits for the van we needed; a chrome effect badge, new rear light lenses and front windscreen seal. Our last thing to see before we headed home was the Big Split. It looked great from the ground and probably even better from the helicopter.

The drive home was great fun as the roads were swarming with campers. Other road users seemed mystified about where all these vans had come from! We were very tired when we staggered into our flat, but what we saw when we got home was horrible. The kitchen sink was over-flowing with waste water and sewage from a blocked down pipe! It took four hours nearly £600 before the drain-man had left and we still had to clear up the mess. All we could do was think of all the fantastic camper-vans we’d seen that weekend.

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