Representing an era of freedom and fun VW’s Split Screen vans are cherished by owners and enthusiasts alike. The first-generation vans were originally produced in Germany in 1950. Initially designed to be workhorses and available in Kombi and Panel van models, the ‘Splitties’ earned their name for their iconic split windscreen and V shape on the front panel. Rear-engined and air cooled, these vans were uncomplicated and reliable.
In 1950 the Microbus was introduced with its iconic two-tone look, and this was quickly followed by the ultimate conversion, the Westfalia campervan model in 1951. The single cab pick-up was introduced in 1952 and over the next 15 years, the range saw several varieties reach the market as well as changes to engine sizes. By the end of production in 1967, 1,477,330 buses had been produced, with the model eventually being replaced in 1968 by the ‘early bay’ window version. Including the versions made by VW in Brazil up until the 1990s, these iconic vans are still as popular and sought after today as they were back in the heights of their production.
Let us introduce you to the Split Screen Van Club
The Split Screen Van Club is dedicated to all VW Split Screens Vans regardless of age or country of manufacture. As the only national club exclusively for this type of vehicle, the club aims to preserve and celebrate these unique vintage Volkswagen vans, and to help owners and enthusiasts with the expertise needed to maintain and restore them.
We caught up with Dougie, SSVC President, to find out more…
When did the club first form and how many members do you have?
The SSVC is a nationwide subscription based club. We have approximately 900 members, including 30 international memebers from Australia, Europe, Asia and the USA. First formed at the Stanford Hall VW show in May 1983, our inclusive, friendly and helpful club is celebrating is 40th birthday this year!
The club is run by a committee of a dozen willing volunteers. Some roles like Membership can take several hours a week, where others are much less. All the committee roles are open for any of the members to put themselves forward should they wish to get more involved.
Tell us about the vehicles covered by the club?
The club is for any VW split screen van or derivative regardless of when or where it was built. Most are German 1950-1967, but we have many members with later Brazilian built buses. All are welcome.
Does the club offer technical support or maintenance advice to members?
Prior to Covid, the club had been running a members-only technical weekend and we are hoping to reinstate this event in the summer. Previously we’ve covered basic servicing, steering box, and engine rebuilds.
The club has a useful spares shop which is run by Jamie Clough-Murray, available on firstname.lastname@example.org. The stock varies, but VW owners are spoilt for choice when it comes to parts suppliers.
How about you Dougie, how long have you been involved?
I bought my first air-cooled VW, a Beetle, in 1989 and have been involved with shows ever since. I bought my first Split in 2007, joined the club soon after and became a committee member in 2016, and president in 2019. I have two splits, a ‘66 and a ’67 – one day I will add a VW 23 Window Samba to my collection! The ‘67 was a wreck when I bought it; for the first 4 years of its life, it was used as a Police van in Salzburg, Austria. I do all my own work including welding, spraying and mechanicals.
Do members receive benefits or discounts for being part of the club?
Club members receive a quarterly magazine and an annual calendar. These rely on club members contributions. Members also enjoy discounts with most of the main spares suppliers, plus the insurance discount with ClassicLine. The club also produces free of charge ‘date of manufacture’ letters which are accepted by the DVLA and needed when registering an imported van, as well as facilitating a Van Register. The Van Register covers about 8,000 vans with many thousands of photos. Obviously, due to data protection the details we can give out to new owners is limited, but it is still a valuable resource.
Split Screen Van Club members receive a 15% discount on their VW campervan insurance premium with ClassicLine Insurance. Be sure to mention that you are a member of the Split Screen Van Club when requesting a quote.
Does the club organise any meets or events?
There is no set social calendar as members are spread throughout the country, we are hoping to set up small local meets this summer. The Annual Rally and AGM is held each year at Victoria Farm near Lutterworth. Held over the early May bank holiday weekend, it involves a convoy of up to 200 Splits to the nearby Stanford Hall VW show on the Sunday.
It is a really chilled family weekend. We hold a charity auction on Sunday evening selling donated spares and memorabilia. Its always a great laugh and we usually raise around £1,800-£2,000 for a nominated charity. Every Annual Rally is special, the vast majority of participants are in Splits and there are never two the same. I doubt you will get so many Splits in any one place at any event anywhere in the world!
We do also try to have a presence at all the major VW shows with convoys are organised by the members through the club’s online forum and Facebook.
What makes you feel proud of being a member of the Split Screen Van Club?
Membership continues to grow and they love it. The magazine and calendar are very well received, members are friendly and welcoming. It doesn’t matter if it’s a stock show winner or a modified rat look scrap yard refugee, if it’s got a VW badge and two front screens it’s all good.
What are your thoughts on the future of the VW scene in the UK?
The VW scene continues to be strong in the UK. It attracts younger owners possibly due to the VW image and the whole laid back surfer type vibe. It is good to see people at shows who are quite clearly nowhere near as old as the car they’re driving!
Does the club support any charities?
Each year a charity is supported through the AGM, with the charity being chosen from nominations made by the members. In the past we have raised money for Prostate Cancer UK, CALM, a local hospice among many others. This year the charity is Help for Heroes.
Are there any interesting projects in the pipeline for the 2023?
This year is the clubs 40th birthday! We are doing all we can to make this year’s Annual Rally a real celebration. Various things are in place but instead of £15 per night to camp, members in their Splits will be paying a Back to ‘83 price of just £5 per night. We are hoping to get over 200 Splits in the convoy.
If this sounds interesting, check out the pictures from last years event here and save the 28th April – 1st May 2023 in your diary.
Our membership fees are £25 for UK membership and £30 for overseas for the year. It’s easy to join online at www.ssvc.org.uk and various payment methods are available, but I’m always happy to answer any questions, contact me on email@example.com.
So, these are the people behind one of our favourite car clubs. Working hard behind the scenes to put on memorable events for Split Screen owners and helping the VW community preserve their cherished vehicles. Split Screen Van Club, thank you for being our club of the month.
ClassicLine Insurance offers a range of car club insurance schemes that can provide revenue for your club as well as benefits and discounts for your members. To find out more about this and our specialist club liability insurance, visit our car clubs page.