Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Complete Guide to Volkswagen Camper Vans

Volkswagen Camper Van

Volkswagen's first camper van was widely sold in the United States. 

It looks like the popular European VW Transporter may be on its way back to the US. With the original Volkswagen Transporter only being released stateside for a brief period around 20 years ago, rumors have been circulating about the return of the Eurovan after the opening of a VW headquarters in Tennessee. We shall have a look at the legacy behind the Transporter line of vehicles.

Volkswagen VW campers (or Volkswagen Type 2) are a popular van model manufactured by Volkswagen. Volkswagen produces several types of camper vans and panel vans which often undergo aftermarket camper van conversions. Transporter vans are a popular choice for commercial and personal use due to their size and the many types of features available when purchasing a new van. These features range from functional – such as a van with removable seats and space for delivering cargo – to the fun and personal, such as a camper van with beds, an oven and a kitchen.

There have been several models of VW Transporter vans over the years. Some consumers prefer the older models featuring a rounded retro appearance and bulkier style, but the newer vans are still very popular, and often have a cult-like following in European countries.

T1 model

This was the very first generation of VW Type 2 car, which includes the Volkswagen camper van, produced from March 1950 through 1967. The original VW T1 van was often called the 'Barn Door' due to its large rear engine cover, although the 1960s T1 models featured a larger engine cover and a slightly sleeker design. Camper vans in this generation often featured fold up travel beds, fold up kitchen sets and (due to the time period) funky retro carpeting and d├ęcor. This model was known as the Split-screen due to its v-shaped front panel. Today, original T1 camper vans are highly desired by collectors and fully restored T1 camper vans fetch high price tags on the collector’s market.

T2 model

The second generation of VW Transporters began in 1967 and was produced in Germany until 1979. The second generation van was larger and heavier than the first generation, and featured a uniquely large engine with hydraulic valve lifters starting in 1978, which got rid of the need to periodically adjust the valve clearances, a requirement of the earlier models. Camper vans in this generation were able to feature customisations which were more complicated than its predecessors, including full beds with mattresses, kitchen sets, dining room sets and more luxurious amenities. This model was known as the Bay Window and only used a one-piece windshield instead of the split-screen of the original T1 camper van. This model featured pop-top roofs, which allowed for passengers to stand up in the van and for the addition of bunk beds and additional sleeping space in the camper van.

T3 model

The T3 (or Vanagon in the US) model began production in 1980 and was one of the last Volkswagen vehicles to use an air-cooled engine, which was replaced with a water-cooled boxer engine in 1984. The T3 was larger and heavier than the T2 model and had square corners rather than rounded edges on the frame. The camper vans of this generation, like the T2 model, were able to accommodate more features suited to traveling in campers or using vans for camping and trip outings. The T3 finally featured the option for high-top roofs, which allowed for standing room without having to pop up the car top! This VW camper van was the first to set the standard for what we consider “traditional” camper van layout today. The kitchen cupboards and storage ran along the driver’s side, a rear bench converted into a double bed, and there were swivel chair seats with swivel tables for a lounge/dining room area. Proper plumbing and climate control were also introduced in this model.

T4 model

The T4 model was produced from 1990 to 2003. The T4 models featured a more stylish appearance and water-cooled engines. The camper vans in this era, beginning in the late 1990s, offered more electronic amenities and features such as televisions, DVD players, microwaves and more.

T5 model

The newest model of VW van belongs to the Volkswagen Transporter T5 range. This newest range, which began production in 2003, features a wide range of customisation, optional accessories and additional features which allow camper van enthusiasts to fully customise their camping experience. Camper vans in the T5 range may be purchased using factory variants of the Transporter T5, however many consumers opt for third party conversions for a more traditional camper van appearance. The T5 Transporter is highly regarded amongst enthusiasts and has seen the birth of many customisations, and there are many custom VW T5s for sale.
Volkswagen Camper Van

Converting a VW van into a VW camper van

Before the VW T5 range, Volkswagen consumers would turn to Westphalia, a company that had an official relationship with Volkswagen, for their Volkswagen camper conversion needs. However, in 2003 this relationship was ended and Volkswagen produced their own line of camper conversion, the “California.” This camper conversion from Volkswagen has a minimalistic outward design, features a pop top roof which is operated via automatic controls, and features state-of-the-art interiors. You can buy the California camper conversion from Volkswagen or Volkswagen dealers.

However, VW camper conversion can be done by third parties. There are many companies that specialise in converting VW cans into camper vans due to the VW van’s popularity among camper van enthusiasts. These companies provide consumers with a range of options for their camper conversions. Many companies specialise in fully equipped camper conversions which can provide consumers with sleeping areas, work desks, electrical plugs, kitchen sets, plumbing and more.

The pricing of a VW camper van conversion can vary depending on what type of conversion you are looking for. Many companies would require you supply your own T5 van, however there are a few which can supply the van, customise the interior and styling to create your own bespoke T5 camper. Just be careful if you are thinking of importing a Transporter van into the US then you will be facing a 25 percent tariff, commonly known as the chicken tax.

About the Author: Jack Dunsworth - As the creator of Jack likes to spend his time around cars, vans and all things Volkswagen. As a freelance writer you can follow Jacks articles and writing through his twitter account.

More on Volkswagen from GRAutoBlog:
Volkswagen in America: The Story Behind the Chattanooga Plant
The People's Champion: Volkswagen
2012 Passat Test Drive Event
2012 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn Packate at Betten Imports

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

2013 Dodge Dart Series: Part Two - Trim Levels

2013 Dodge Dart

The 2013 Dodge Dart: The new car on the block with an impressive amount of attitude, dynamic stylings and custom options. Poised to be the next big thing in the compact segment, the Dart will make its debut in Chrysler showrooms in June.

With a hint of Italian flair, provided by FIAT’s design contribution, the Dart has a dramatic exterior mixing clean lines and aggressive curves.  The Dart's distinctive split cross-hair grille, also adds to its sporty character. The Dart’s Charger-inspired racetrack style LED taillamp is another styling cue inspired from its Dodge heritage. The Dart may be a compact sedan, but there is nothing small about its bold engine choices, providing a level of affordable performance that packs a fuel-efficient punch. Take a look at the Dart’s roomy, feature-filled interior with Part One in our Dodge Dart Series.

The new Chrysler compact, the first in that crucial segment from the automaker in several years, is available with the choice of three engines, three gearboxes, five trim levels, and numerous amounts of custom options.
2013 Dodge Dart Trim Levels:

SE Model - MSRP starting at $15,995

  • 2.0L 160-hp Tigershark 4-cylinder

  • 6-speed manual transmission

  • 10 standard airbags

  • Projector headlamps & LED taillamps

SXT Model - MSRP starting at $17, 995

  • All SE features, plus:

  • 17-inch aluminum wheels

  • Power mirrors, locks, remote keyless entry

  • Available UConnect Touch Media Center 8.4 inch/RE2

  • Available 1.4L MultiAir Turbo

RALLYE Model - MSRP starting at $18,995

  • Builds off SXT model, plus:

  • Unique Black grille surround

  • Black headlamp bezels

  • Projector fog lamps

  • Integrated dual exhaust

  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel

  • Available Hyper Black aluminum wheels

  • Electronic Vehicle Information Center

  • Trip computer

  • Steering wheel mounted audio controls

Limited Model - MSRP starting at $19,995

  • Includes all SXT equipment, plus:

  • Bright grille and door handles

  • Projector fog lamps

  • Available UConnect Touch Media Center 8.4 inch/RE2

  • 7-inch reconfigurable display

  • Available polished aluminum wheels

  • Electronic Vehicle Information Center

  • Trip computer

  • Steering Wheel mounted audio controls

R/T Model - MSRP starting at $22,495

  • Builds off Limited with powertrain and sport suspension

  • 2.4L 184-hp Tigershark with MultiAir II

  • Hyper Black grille

  • Projector fog lamps

  • 18-inch aluminum wheels

  • Unique Black front fascia

  • Premium Nappa leather-trimmed interior

  • Integrated dual exhaust

  • Black headlamp bezels

Don't just take our word for it:

This is Part Two in our Dodge Dart Series, a three-part blog exploring the various aspects of the all-new 2013 Dodge Dart.

2013 Dodge Dart Series:
Part One - Interior
Part Three - Dart Comes to West Michigan

More on Chrysler  and Dodge from GRAutoBlog:
2013 Dodge Dart to Feature In-Car Wireless Charging
Courtesy’s ‘Car of the Month’ March: 2012 Dodge Charger
The Importance of Having Your Car Serviced
Best of 2011 from GRAutoBlog: Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram Edition
2012 Special Editions: Dodge Charger Super Bee, Yellow Jacket Dodge Challenger
Courtesy’s “Car of the Month” November: 2012 Dodge Journey
2011 Dodge Durango Named “Top Safety Pick” by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Michigan Legend to Auction Original General Lee Charger

Monday, May 21, 2012

Tips for Driving Safe in Unsafe Conditions

Driving in unsafe conditions due to inclement weather can be stressful and scary. A quick review of these tips for safe driving will prepare you to confidently face some of the most common conditions that can otherwise give cause for alarm to motorists.

Preventative Safety Tips for Any Driving Conditions 

  • Always carry a first-aid and medical kit

  • Keep jumper cables and flashlights in your vehicle

  • Stay up-to-date on your regular maintenance to ensure tires have good tread and are properly inflated

  • Regularly check that lights and turning signals operate properly

  • Ensure that your fuel tank stays above the halfway mark is a good general rule of thumb because you will be less likely to run out of gas if caught in sudden, unsafe conditions. There's an added benefit in the winter as it facilitates easier starts in cold weather due to reduced condensation.

General Safety Tips for Driving in Unsafe Conditions 

  • Slow down! Whether it is rain, snow, ice or even heavy winds causing tricky conditions, it will take longer to stop and respond to what is going on around you. Slow down and allow more space between you and other motorists.

  • Always turn your headlights on when driving in any type of precipitation, regardless of the time of day. It may increase your own visibility and more importantly it will definitely help other drivers see you. 

  • Minimize, if not avoid, using your brakes and instead decrease speed by taking your foot off the accelerator (Another reason to slow down!). 

  • Leave your cruise control off and keep both hands on the steering wheel with gentle use of all the main controls - steering, clutch, brake and accelerator.

  • Stay home if at all possible. If travel can be avoided in snow, ice, rain, heavy thunderstorm or high winds, stay home. You will ensure your own safety while also reducing the number of vehicles battling the elements and thus reducing the chance accidents might occur.  

Tips for Driving Safely In Rainy Conditions

  • Drive in the tracks of cars in front of you for better traction and stay in middle lane as water tends to pool in outside lanes. 

  • Don't attempt to cross moving water or large puddles. If you do end up hydroplaning don't press the brakes and attempt to turn, rather let your foot off the gas slowly and attempt to steer straight until the tires regain traction.

  • Check your wipers (and replace roughly once a year) to ensure they adequately remove water from the windshield.

  • If your wheels start skidding, turn the steering wheel in the direction of the skid and ease up on the gas or gently pump the brakes. 

  • If rain becomes so heavy that you cannot see other vehicles or the edges of the road pull over and wait it out. Be sure to pull off the road as far as you safely can and keep headlights as well as hazard lights on so other motorists can easily see you. 

Tips for Driving Safely in Snow or Ice 

  • Don’t idle a cold engine for a longer period to warm it up, the best way to warm the engine is by driving. If you're driving a manual transmission, starting in second gear can also help reduce tire spinning. 

  • Snow (or rain) can quickly cause windows to mist up inside the car. Use the defrosters with the A/C switched on to get the air moving which will cut down on condensation and improve visibility.

  • Use generous amounts of wiper fluid to keep the windshield clean and clear, and if driving in snow often enough switch to a low temperature fluid which will not freeze. 

  • If you know you will be driving in snowy weather ahead of time, consider packing tire chains, a long tow rope, reflective triangles, a mobile charging kit and even a kit containing warm clothing plus spare food and water. 

  • If your climate yields frequent snowfalls, consider investing in a good set of snow or winter tires as they will provide more traction than all-purpose tires, which may suffice only for the occasional or light snow.

This guest post was written by Freedom Rims, a Responsible Military Lender since 1983. Freedom Rims offers rims financing for a variety of performance rims and tires, including chrome rims. We offer fast and convenient credit on a large inventory of tires and wheels with our military financing options.

More Guest Blog Posts from GRAutoBlog:
How to Get the Most Money for Your Trade-in
How to Get More MPG with Your Car
6 Steps to Carefully Buying a Used Car
6 Things to Consider When Selecting Tires
The Importance of Having Your Car Serviced 
Top 5 Gifts for Car Enthusiasts 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Courtesy Celebrates 46 Years of Business in West Michigan

Courtesy 46th Anniversary Sale

Courtesy Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram is celebrating the milestone of 46 uninterrupted years of being a family owned and operated business serving the West Michigan area.

The dealership has come a long way, starting its journey with Red Betten, the original owner's purchase of Northfield Dodge on Plainfield Avenue. This was followed by the dealership's move to our current location on 28th street, with the purchase of Wonderland Dodge. To become a full Genesis dealer, Mr Betten bought Highland Chrysler, combining all four brands under one roof. The changes continued, with our recent major showroom renovation, and the incorporation of the ultra-convenient Express Lane in the Service Department, just to name a few.

Our business has persevered through hard times with our nation's economy and Chrysler's financial troubles, and we're grateful that after all these years we're still able to pursue our company's passion for pairing the people of West Michigan with their dream cars.

Courtesy would not be what it is today without our dedicated workers, from sales to service, to everything in between! Their hard work and kindness creates a family atmosphere that has set us apart from our local competitors. Get to know our current staff on, or come on in to say 'Hi!'

We want to say thank you to all the customers who made these last 46 years possible. To celebrate a nearly half century of serving West Michigan's Chrysler vehicle needs, Courtesy is hosting a 46th Anniversary Sale! To get all the details, visit us at Here's to the next 46 years!

More on Courtesy from GRAutoBlog:
Welcome to the Service Department
JK-8 Jeep Wrangler Pickup Conversion at Courtesy CJD
Courtesy Announces New 'Fuel for Fans' Facebook Contest 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

3 Easy Tips to Save You Money on Gas

Who doesn't love packing up the car and hitting the road for a nice long road trip every summer? As the calendar inches towards summer and the beach starts calling your name, mentally planning your next road trip during endless meetings just can't be helped. Not to put a damper on your master summer plan, but as gas prices continue to rise, the famous road trip might be losing some of its luster, shine and economy in the eyes of the consumer. Luckily for the road warrior, there are quite a few little changes that you can make that will make a big difference in the amount you shell out for gas over the years. Some say that high gas prices are here to stay, so the sooner you can put into practice these three easy tips, the better!

Drive a fuel efficient vehicle 

Driving that gas guzzler from the 1990's or 80's isn't going to save you any money at the pump, but you don't have to swing to the other extreme and head out to buy a brand new Prius to notice a difference in what you spend on gas. Electric, hybrid, or even just a newer vehicle can change the amount of money you spend each week at the pump. There is constantly advancing technology in new cars that is making even regular gas powered cars more fuel efficient than in the past. Cost calculators even help you figure out your "break even" point for buying a new car and getting the money back in savings on gas.

Maintain your car

It might seem painful at the time to hand over the credit card, but undoubtedly regular maintenance over time will save you money. Doing things like keeping your tires properly inflated and changing your oil regularly are easy things to do. Taking the time to stop at the air tank to make sure that your tires are inflated to the right amount is a simple thing that can make a difference in the life of your tires and the quality of your ride. When it comes to changing your oil, you can pay someone to do it (usually with a coupon) or even learn how to do it yourself.

Think before you drive

When thinking about where you need to go in your car, planning ahead and consolidating trips is always a money saver. Headed to the farmer's market, the dry cleaners and the coffee shop? Planning out your route to avoid back tracking by putting several small trips together into one big trip just requires a little thought before you go. When you are doing daily errands, remember to make it a point to take out all that stuff that tends to consolidate in the back seat and trunk, in order to lighten your load. There isn't any use carrying around unnecessary equipment either. Things like skis, bike, boat and luggage racks should be taken off when they aren't in use to reduce drag and add money to your wallet.


This guest post was written by Freedom Rims, a Responsible Military Lender since 1983. Freedom Rims offers rims financing for a variety of performance rims and tires including ICW Racing and Ballistic Rims throughout the USA.

More Guest Blog Posts from GRAutoBlog:
How to Get More MPG with Your Car
6 Steps to Carefully Buying a Used Car
6 Things to Consider When Selecting Tires
The Importance of Having Your Car Serviced 
Top 5 Gifts for Car Enthusiasts 

Friday, May 11, 2012

2013 Dodge Dart Series: Part One - Interior

2013 Dodge Dart

The all-new Dart, the first new product of the Chrysler and FIAT partnership, is set to liven up the compact sedan segment when it makes its way to a dealership near you in June. Thanks to its well-designed and future-leaning interior, however, the 2013 Dodge Dart is already turning heads in the automotive community.

Chrysler took its craftsmanship to a new level with the Dart’s interior, producing a combination of ergonomic dynamism and eye-catching details. Ambient lighting and accent stitching, just to name a few features, add to the Dart's overall sporty and fun attitude. The well-respected auto magazine, Wards Auto World recently chose the Dart and its customizable cabin as one of its 10 Best Interiors for 2012.

With five trim levels and thousands of potential custom options, the Dart is a dream come true for the consumer who wants to have everything from their iPhone case to their car customized for their personality. Everything from unique hoods, grilles, tailpipes, shifters, steering wheels and more, truly make the Dodge Dart the new car for the new age of customization.  This one-of-a-kind approach to automotive design is thanks to the 150 available Dodge Dart accessories available through Mopar, Chrysler's in-house parts division.

The Dart is not only a prime example of driver-centric design, but is a car that will keep you and your technological life on the go, sans the hassle of wires. Chrysler broke the mold when it made the Dodge Dart in more ways than one; they developed an industry-first technology with its wireless in-car charging system for smartphones and MP3 players. Read our take on this exciting innovation: 2013 Dodge Dart to Feature In-Car Wireless Charging.

2013 Dodge Dart Interior Features:

Stay tuned to our Facebook and Twitter for more updates in our Dodge Dart series!

This is Part One in our Dodge Dart Series, a three-part blog exploring the various aspects of the all-new 2013 Dodge Dart.

2013 Dodge Dart Series:
Part Two – Trim Levels 
Part Three - Dart Comes to West Michigan 

More on Chrysler and Dodge from GRAutoBlog:
Courtesy's 'Car of the Month' March: 2012 Dodge Charger
The Importance of Having Your Car Serviced
Best of 2011 from GRAutoBlog: Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram Edition
2012 Special Editions: Dodge Charger Super Bee, Yellow Jacket Dodge Challenger
Courtesy’s “Car of the Month” November: 2012 Dodge Journey

2011 Dodge Durango Named “Top Safety Pick” by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Michigan Legend to Auction Original General Lee Charger

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Courtesy's 'Car of the Month' May: 2012 Jeep Wrangler

2013 Dodge Dart

Make this summer one to remember, with adventures in a trail-rated icon. Whether you're off-roading or driving along the beautiful lakeshore, you'll experience West Michigan like never before, in the ultimate 4x4 trailrated icon: the 2012 Jeep Wrangler.

This May at West Michigan's 'Mopar Elite' dealership, Courtesy Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram, drive off with a brand-new Jeep Wrangler and you can receive up to $2,000 off select Wrangler models.* Start your summer off the Jeep way, by getting some mud on your tires. Call us at (616) 452 -2143 to schedule your test drive or come visit us on 28th street.

The 2012 Wrangler features the signature Jeep styling, with the classic seven-slot grille and round headlamps. It's just not easy on the eyes, however, with its new Pentastar V6 engine, five-speed automatic, and improved 0-60 speed of 8.4 seconds! Additional significant upgrades in power, fuel-efficiency and more for 2012, make this automotive icon more of an exceptional value than ever, proved by its 2012 ALG Residual Value Award.


  • Best 4x4 of the Decade - Four Wheeler Magazine

  • Hottest 4x4 SUV- 2012 SEMA Show

  • 2012 ALG Residual Value Award

  •  Top 10 Engine - Ward's

  • 2012 Best Car for the Money - U.S. News

  • 2012 Best Resale Value: Top 10 Award Winner - Kelley Blue Book

  • Automotive Excellence Award for Off-Road Ability - Popular Mechanics

  • And more! Read more about the Wrangler's awards.

Ever wondered what a Jeep Wrangler pickup would look like? Quench your curiosity with our JK-8 Jeep Wrangler Mopar Conversion.

Already a Jeep owner? Share your favorite Jeep pictures with us on Facebook and Twitter.
2013 Dodge Dart

Photo Source: Road and Track

*Disclaimer:  Customer must qualify for all applicable rebates.  All rebates assigned to dealer. See dealer for details.

More from ‘Car of the Month’:
2012 Chrysler 300 – July

2012 Dodge Grand Caravan – June
2012 Chrysler Town & Country - April
2012 Dodge Charger – March
2012 Jeep Compass – February
2012 Chrysler 200 – January

2012 Ram 1500 – December
2012 Dodge Journey – November

2012 Jeep Liberty – October

More on the Jeep Wrangler from GRAutoBlog:
JK-8 Jeep Wrangler Pickup Conversion at CJDR 
Jeep Wrangler Wins 2012 ALG Residual Value Award
2012 Jeep Wrangler to Feature Pentastar V6 Engine
2012 Call of Duty Jeep: Modern Warfare 3 Special Edition

Learn more about the past ‘Car of the Month’ choices:
2012 Chrysler Town & Country - April
2012 Dodge Charger – March

2012 Jeep Compass – February
2012 Chrysler 200  January

2012 Ram 1500 – December
2012 Dodge Journey – November
2012 Jeep Grand Liberty – October