To start off, so that you can get to know me a little better and see whether you want to follow me on my adventures for a while, let me introduce myself. My name is Volker. Typically we do not like to talk about our age but I must say I am pretty proud of mine – I am 22 years old, born in 1992 in the pretty unexciting city of Hannover. Germany. I have covered respectable 297971km since my day of birth. If you want to know some more of my specs (this information is pretty personal but I guess now-a-days these things are supposed to be part of a profile): I have the 2.4l engine with 5 cylinders, 2370 cubic capacity & 78 PS. For those of you who haven’t studied car mechanics & for whom all of this is Chinese, these specs basically mean I am a pretty sturdy but slow guy. I can get you across very long distances reliably but you have to be patient with me when you are trying to race another car at the lights or when you want to get me up a steep hill. And although I might not be able to compete in the light-racing or hill-driving category with any of my close siblings who have the racier Turbo-Diesel engines, I want to see any of them who are my age, have covered as much distance as I have and are still as healthy as me. We slow & sturdy cars are definitely an undervalued species.
Now, lets talk about some things that I am not. First thing, something that almost everyone gets wrong (and you know that these identity questions matter – as a Quebecois you would not want to be mistaken as a Canadian, and as an Irishman you would not want to be mistaken as a Brit) – I am not a Westfalia. I am a Volkswagen T4 Multivan. Models almost identical to me were also called Caravelle, Transporter or California. In North America my brothers & sisters of the same build were sold under the name of Eurovan. So call me T4, or call me Multivan, or even Eurovan if you want. But please don’t call me Westfalia. Westfalia didn’t even ever build any cars themselves. And no car model was really ever called a Westfalia. Westfalia is a company building camper equipment & converting vans to camper vans. Westfalia paired up with VW and provided the camper equipment for many VW van models, like an expandable roof for sleeping, kitchen cupboards, sinks & stoves. That’s why many VW vans have the Westfalia name written on their roofs. But you can find Ford & Mercedes vans with the Westfalia logo as well. I have some of this same equipment but it was not Westfalia who pimped me into a camper van but it was a no-name company who exchanged my roof for a sleeping roof & my owners who added a stove & fridge to my interior. So I am NOT a Westfalia.
I am also not a hippie van. I am actually pretty demure. I am all white with grey interiors, I have no flowers printed anywhere, I have no collections of stickers from all the different places I visited on my back, I am wearing no peace-sign & I typically have no weed hidden in my interior lining. Most of my life I have been a family van, driving around screaming toddlers & frowning teenagers, being used as playground & diaper changing room. I am far too young to have attended Woodstock, I have not travelled around the world, haven’t been to India, have never had any incense burned inside me and I do not run on biodiesel. You for sure will hear some Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones & Patty Smith coming out of my speakers. But you will also hear electronic beats, indie rock, pop, classical music, & sometimes even hip hop. My owners are also no ardent supporters of Eastern philosophy, they do not really believe in anarchy, they do not take many drugs, they are not practising free love. They are simply a bunch of pretty average people who want to live life fully & enjoy themselves. Idealists at heart, opportunists in practice. I think they are all still pretty cool, but they are no hippies & I am no hippie van.
But I still have had a pretty exciting life. I have lived in three different countries on two different continents & I have travelled in dozens more. I have accompanied my family for more than 20 years. I have been their home for many road trips, I have helped them build three different houses, helped them move across mountains, oceans & continents. I have been their battling ground, their love nest, their escape from the grinds of everyday life. I have seen their children grow into adults, leave me & then come back to me. I have seen many trends, styles, presidents, prime ministers, crisis & hopes come and go. I have seen my fellow cars on the roads change from the box-shaped cuddly Fiat Pandas Type 141 of the 1990s to the sleek & futuristic Fiat 500s Type 312 of the late 2000s.
In this blog I want to tell you a little bit about my life & my adventures. But I also want to tell you a little about how this world looks through the eyes of a car. Imagine you are driving through 20 years & 2 continents as a car. There are many things I am unable to experience. But believe me, a lot of things happen on roads in your society. Roads are fascinating windows into your worlds & your lives. And maybe you want to come with me & have a look at this your society from my – a cars – perspective. It can be pretty enlightening to look at things through someone else’s eyes. So I hope you will bear with me & accompany me on this venture. Let me take you on a road trip with me.