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Classifieds Index -> Vehicles -> Type 2/Bus - 1949-67
Rare Peter Pitt 1958 Split Screen Camper Turn on always show all large photos     Ad id: 2678348
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Rare Peter Pitt 1958 Split Screen Camper   Price: £60000
THE FULL STORY OF LEE 259
A 1958 VOLKSWAGON TYPE 2 MICROBUS
with A PETER PITT CONVERSION.
In the late 1950s Ken Fardell a garage Proprietor from Messingham in Lincolnshire purchased a VW type 2 microbus 224 RHD with a Peter Pitt Moto-caravan conversion. It was new at a cost of nearly £900. That was a lot of money in 1958, the price of 2 Minis.
First registered in the UK Nov 1958 the Type 2 VW microbus was an addition to a couple of Austins, a 16 and a Westminster A105 and had to earn its keep, not immediately but when the newness had worn off after the first winter. It was always stored undercover or garaged dependant on space.
This was Ken’s first ever new vehicle, all the seats were immediately covered in custom made hardwearing material even the front bench seat and carpet fitted on the floors front, middle and engine cover at the rear. Ken had served in the RAF as an aircraft fitter. We don’t know why he opted for a VW; his accountant must have told him he needed a new vehicle to write off against business tax was one theory. LEE was always known as the VW Bus never as LEE in its youth.
Used for 20 years as a contract hire taxi to transport local children in Messingham Lincolnshire from outlying farms to the village school, and at lunchtimes to transport hot school meals in large, sealed insulated containers between local village school canteens. Messingham to East Butterwick before the school closed. More of a ultra general-purpose vehicle than a pretty camper hired out during the school holidays.
Every school day without fail, rain hail or snow. These were all short trips, stop/ start not the best for an air-cooled engine.
It had a yearly compulsory inspection by the local authorities to carry out these duties before MOTs at 10 years old.
It was also used as a Private Hire Vehicle, local village taxi 24/7 and for weddings and hired out for trips and holidays. In the early ‘60s an 8-seater VW often carried a few more than 8 to get back to Messingham late on a Saturday night.!
Because the taxi vehicles often had different drivers it was important especially the VW to check the fuel. Once the reserve tap is pulled out you were supposed to fill up and push the tap back in, this did not always happen. This is why it always carried a spare one gallon can on board.
One rear corner had accidental damaged and was replaced in the 70s so one side engine bay vents were different to the other, but you couldn’t see both at the same time. This was corrected during restoration.
John remembers taking the front bumper off a Vauxhall with the rear bumper of the VW cutting in a bit quick after just overtaking, filed under lesson learned.
No other Split screen camper is likely to have had such a chequered history in its first 20 years of life.
John his son learned to drive in this camper, in the late 1960s, all battle scars now cosmetically removed during the restoration. No seatbelts or airbags then or now, and limited power. He had been driving LEE about within the family garage business and yard from an early age.
Taking LEE on holidays in the late 60s to Devon and Cornwall with a couple of mates, one who worked at the BMC Dealership. At the time the latest Austin 1800 advert stated ‘Drop in for a Trial Marriage’, LEE had a couple of those large stickers. No takers but a lot of amusement for others on campsites.
LEE has carried various items for the garage business, engines and gearboxes, several r/c aircraft, drum kits and soul band equipment, and a Gremlin sailing dingy inside not on the roof! The MPV not a bus or a van of the period as many owners found out.
Never went abroad but visited the Lake District and Scotland on several occasions as a campervan with an attached 2 room tent awning carried on a full-length roof rack. Tent available with the camper if wanted. All the passes have been completed even Hardknott pass the steepest in the UK.
In March 1978 it needed some major mechanical work (ceased engine) at 80K miles and 20 years old, and was sold. to a regular visiting sales rep Peter Good from Cherry Willingham near Lincoln. He later became an early SSVC member.
LEE was replaced with a ’69 red Devon type 2 bay VW doing the same type of work. The taxman would have taken anything over £50-00 since its value had been written down against tax.
The second owner used LEE after reconditioning the motor and painted it white and orange with rattle cans (newer VW colours,) and used it as a camper for a few years, he then sold the registration number LEE 259 and the camper separately.
The third owner stripped out all the original interior into dry store and started a restoration that stalled for whatever reason, and LEE stayed in a barn for the next decade or so and it became an historic vehicle in the process.
Purchased by Mike Waby as a barn find in quite a sorry state in 2019. Fortunately, Mike was prepared for a full restoration having done several VW campers before and realising how rare a ’58 Pitt conversion is. There is a full photographic record of each phase of the restoration in some detail. Bodywork, Mechanical and Internal fixtures and fittings.
January 2021 Mike found John Fardell on the Internet looking for LEE’s history from the family name and original logbook change of owner ship details. Several digitised 35mm colour slides and 8mm cine film of LEE from the 60s and 70s were sent to Mike to show how it looked originally together with any details of its history that were relevant.
The Family had been convinced that several years ago that LEE had been scrapped when the registration number was reassigned to an Audi, so never tried looking any further.
John was really taken aback after seeing LEE in the ‘flesh’ for the first time in over 40 years, fully restored, in all its former glory when Mike brought the bus to Scotter Lincs. A series of pictures of the event were taken never expecting to ever see it again. He distinctly remembered the trim into the front door pockets had never been glued down properly and were still the same.
The fresh two-tone Mango Green and Seagull Grey colour, the smell of the interior and the ‘dub’ sound of that air-cooled flat four. Then after a drive around the former local routes and under the influence of nostalgia he was totally convinced, an opportunity to own again would be unlikely to happen. LEE was brought back into the family after 4 decades away after some serious discussions. But did they really need another classic camper to go with their near concours1977 Hiace.
A 1958 Volkswagen type 2 Peter Pitt moto-caravan originally purchased new, returning to the same family, quite a story.
They have been the privileged keepers of one of the most iconic, classic campers ever made, with family provenance and photographic evidence of its full restoration and history, there are unlikely to be any others similar still to be found.
The family deliberated long and hard, unfortunately they cannot now use LEE enough to justify keeping him.
This VW has been totally restored to the original specification and colours with 6-volt electrics with a completely new wiring harness. An internal gas light, original trim, seats, and door cards. Original 2 burner hob with renewed gas pipe fully working.
Split case gear box straight cut gears in 1st and reverse, synchromesh 2nd 3rd and 4th gears. Original reduction hubs on drive system.
All gauges, (one) switches including the semaphore trafficators, steering wheel and fittings are original. All the braking system has been renewed. Seat covers and curtains were replaced with similar fabrics. Headlining replaced to original colour. The windows still have some of the original holiday location sticks/transfers.
LEE has not been fitted with any extra chrome trim, safari windows or aftermarket accessories. He has been restored as close as possible to the original specification.
A 6-volt period spotlight fitted to replicate the original, no radio or ariel was ever fitted but still retains the original Perdio portable transistor radio which the family kept for no specific reason together with the original striped windbreak.
The two original ignition keys fit all locks, and the engine lid church key is original. The patina has been kept by not overcleaning the fixtures and interior fittings. The only unrestored metalwork is the engine lit hold open bracket, still in Mango Green.
All the glass is original and etched. Wing mirrors and Interior mirrors are original. The gas lamp comes with several mantels and a spare globe as they soon disintegrated once used due to vibration when travelling. A fitting discontinued on later models for safety reasons.
Unseen modifications that do not distract from originality are electronic ignition, and flashing LED trafficator bulbs. With standard ride height, 15” wheels and all new drum brakes with new brake lines, just wish it still had the original number plates,
LEE has been re-registered as an historic vehicle, USK 762 is a date related plate.
The 1172cc 30hp motor has been completely rebuilt using weighted pistons and fully balanced crankshaft and flywheel and new parts seals and bearings where needed.
No-one then fully realised in the ‘60s it’s significance in the next six decades of moto -caravan history. The remaining few Peter Pitt conversions are now extremely rare, this is a pre-Canterbury Pitt conversion. LEE is one of the first and last surviving VW based conversions.
The factory build date is 05-09-1958, dispatched to importers for UK delivery 11-09-1958, then delivered to Pitt for the moto caravan conversion. This was 3 years before he joined with Canterbury motorcycles to become the world-renowned Canterbury Pitt.
Peter Pitt helped kick start the campervan revolution in the UK. Peter drove his Moto-Caravan through the Royal Park at Windsor (in which commercial vehicles were not allowed) to create legal history. Having won his case, campervans now enjoyed the same speed limits as a private car and not 30mph anymore. Peter’s daughter Nicola said she remembers her dad building the units for the early ones in their kitchen at home.
Nicola was the little girl in the early advertising brochures, the pictures were taken by Peter as he was also a keen photographer. On the brochure is an overlay of a Pitt moto caravan on a saloon car of the 1950s,
Most now fully appreciate the disproportionate value of early VW Splitscreen type 2 campers to other similar classic campers and later Bay VWs. The worldwide cult status and continuing iconic retro design appeal is unlikely to decline in the future. In value, count the windows and multiply by 1000 no longer applies and needs an update.
LEE this rare VW microbus was being built as a ‘58 model on the production line in Hanover with RHD, semaphores, high level brake lights, straight up gear lever etc, but then the production line shutdown for changeover to the updated ’59 model.
When the factory returned and production restarted, it carried on down the now upgraded line and was fitted with the new style cargo doors with a recess for the handles and the new style slash cut bumpers. Now part 1958 and part 1959 but still an original VW type 2, unmolested and unmodified. In August 1958 Mango Green and Seagull Grey was a brand-new colour option on type 2 VWs and remained as a colour choice until 1963.
Only a mere handful of these factory changeover models were ever built, nearly all LHD with bullet indicators for mainland Europe and the USA export market.
This is possibly the only known 58/59 RHD semaphore model to survive, possibly the only remaining Sept 1958 ‘Frankenstein’ RHD semaphore Mango Green and Seagull Grey Peter Pitt moto-caravan in the world.
LEE had been abandoned and off the road for decades but has since appeared at a handful of classic and VW shows.


VEHICLE DATA ( from VOLKSWAGEN AG CUSTOMER ASSTANCE EXPORT )
VXK-gg-yb

CHASSIS NUMBER 386 699 VW Transporter
MODEL: 224
COLOUR: Green/Grey
TRIM: Caramel-brown/Beige.
ENGINE No. 517 435
M EQUIPMENT M08, M18, M20, M43, M108, M156, M543
BUILT ON: 05. 09. 1958
DISPATCHED ON: 11. 09. 1958 To our Importers for England
M 08 possibly without battery
M18 sealed beam headlights?
M20 speedometer in MPH.odometer in miles.
M43 prep for Swiss market ? or larger air filter.
M108 ready for camping equipment
M156 second rear view mirror.
M543 without seats in passenger area.

Mango Green and Seagull Grey two tone paint colours were introduced in the August of 1958 and discontinued in 1961.
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johnfardell
John Edward Fardell
March 27, 2024
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Gainsborough, ENGLAND, United Kingdom
1 - Excellent
Fri Apr 12, 2024 9:59 am
Sun May 19, 2024 2:04 am
Sun May 19, 2024 2:04 am
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