Note: this camper isn’t currently available in the US…but oh how we wish it was!
Volkswagen vans have had a place as an RV platform for almost half a century. From the hippy conversions of the ’60s and ’70s to commercially produced Vanagons – to today’s custom hybrids built out by luxury RV builders, like Tonke. The T6, one of Volkwagen’s latest vans, makes an excellent foundation and Tonke’s work turns the basic vehicle into an exquisite family camper.
The original Volkswagen van was sketched in 1947 on a notepad by a Dutch Volkswagen importer visiting the German manufacturer: ‘This is what we need!’. Thus the legend started.
The Volkswagen T6 Camper from Tonke with the popup top expanded.
The modular design takes the cake as one of the best features, making the most of the interior by placing a lot of living space outside the van proper. Two noticeable examples include the somewhat traditional, tent roof popup that’s been a part of VW camper vans for decades. And second, the swingout kitchen that allows for cooking outside (or inside) while ensuring maximum elbow room in the rear living area.
Overhead view of the van from the pop top tent.
Other innovative features are spread throughout the camper, like the two LED gooseneck lamps that allow you to put light exactly where you need it, instead of just in the tiny area (non-camping?) designers chose.
And unlike some pop top campers, the Tonke T6’s roof top tent provides multi-use capabilities.
The sectional mattress platform can be removed easily to make more headroom for a space that most adults can stand up in. Try that in your Mom’s minivan.
Swing out kitchen module with expanded prep surface provides lots of cooking room.
Yes, the dining space might be cozy. However, the driver’s seat and rear bench provide seating at the table for at least three, while two others can join the conversation from the bench and the rotating passenger’s chair. Or the table can be folded flat against the face of the swingout kitchen module for extra space.
The kitchen seen from the inside.
The kitchen itself provides everything you need to cook full-on meals, with a small, two burner camp stove and a pressure driven sink that hides beneath a hinged glass panel. While in the swung-out position, the sink can be accessed from both sides for convenience, and then quickly hidden away when you’re finished.
Kitchen with dinette folded down, ready to be swung in.
The interior bench seats collapse to transform into a spacious double bed big enough for two adults, making the sleeping capacity 4 or 5, depending on how cozy you plan to be. An integrated, powered cooler is an option beside the rear bench seat for refrigeration. Power outlets are installed throughout the van.
A view from the front showing plenty of sleeping space for four.
With the rear door hatch open and the weather flaps zipped down on the popup, the van is open to natural ventilation, but can be buttoned down for rougher weather. Even with all of the conversion elements in place, the van can also serve as a comfortable transport for everyday use.
Interior view, with dinette extended. Plenty of room for four.
Tonke has a reputation for well-executed conversions and the T6 appears to be no exception. The design is thoughtful and elegant, providing everything you need and little you don’t. For full time road warriors, the T6 may be a bit labor intensive, with the kitchen and popup mechanics, but for weekend excursions and inexpensive getaways this one looks like a winner.
LED gooseneck lamps, able to reach the pop top or the main van.
According to gizmag, the Tonke T6 camper retails for around €40,000 (about $45,000), with a nicely featured van running to around €60,000 (about $68,000).
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