In this guest blog you can hear from Brian the brains behind the Devon Conversion Celebration, read on to find out just what has been the catalyst to Brian doing this.
My first bus in 1968 was a rotting 54 barndoor with a home-made interior and 1200 engine. Bit of a shock on the first hill so I soon bought a 64 Devon – my companion for the next 10 years. Since then I’ve had many bays and splits, almost all with Devon conversions. When I heard about DDF I thought “why not gather together as many Devon conversions as we can?” – after all, DDF is just up the road from Sidmouth where most Devons were converted. So I contacted Mart, Bonny and Zoe with this idea and it’s all gone from there.
My next thought was “I wonder if Pat Mitchell who designed all these amazing campers is still around?” After a few enquiries I found him still living in Sidmouth, fit and well in his eighties. Nobody in the VW community (with the honorable exception of David Eccles in his book “VW Campers the Inside Story”) has really recognized Pat’s role in revolutionizing the way people camp. He and the White family who built the campers made it possible for thousands of people to enjoy being camped up in a cosy vehicle with water, a bed and a cooker rather than in a soggy cold tent! His designs ultimately led to the great motor caravan industry we see today.
So it would be a fitting tribute to Pat and his designs to invite him to the Devon Gathering at DDF, partly to show him how much his campers are enjoyed today, but mainly to say thank you for creating these iconic buses that we all value so much. We are planning a few surprises for him, and he has agreed to give a talk about his life and work – a real treat for Devon bus nutters like me.
I’m really looking forward to the cruise to Sidmouth with Devon splits and bays of hopefully all years from 1957 to 1979. We hope we can do this every year at DDF to celebrate Devon Conversions – our local link with the VW story!