How my van found me
Meet Rita, my beautiful 1986 VW T3 with original Reimo camper van interior. I’m not gonna lie, I’d often scoured the internet for a T3, but I never seriously considered buying any of the ones I found. It just didn’t feel right to buy my van from a complete stranger. With this in mind, I consider myself the luckiest girl to call Rita my own, because she found me when I needer her most.
Let’s rewind to mid June 2020 when I was living with my grandma in rural Germany. I was scrolling through my Facebook feed about once a week. One day, it just so happened that I saw a post, which had been reposted by a good friend of mine. There it was! My dream van! I’m pretty sure that my heart skipped a beat. The van had everything I was looking for in my VW T3: A solid hightop, revolving passenger seat, the full original interior, including a functioning fridge, two stove tops and fresh & grey water tank. It even had a hidden toilet and solar panels. And would you look at all that storage space! Moreover the owner and me have a mutual connection, so I wouldn’t be buying the van from a complete stranger.
It couldn’t get much more perfect than that. So what’s the catch? Well, it turns out that the van was in Portugal and borders within the EU were not open at that time…
The start of my VW T3 van life adventure
It took me about 2 hours to decide to message the owner, Viv, anyways and ask her some more questions. The following days I kept trying to find reasons why all of this was a stupid idea, but deep down I knew it was “meant to be” (please excuse the cheesiness). I asked my sister to join me to Portugal to help me drive the van back to Germany by myself. You better believe I didn’t need to ask her twice!
Our flights to Portugal were on the 18th of June, just days after the borders within the EU had opened again. Two days later we met Viv. I immediately knew that I had to buy the van, even though I already knew that a lot of work was coming my way. After all, a VW T3 van is an old car and needs a lot of care and attention. And besides, if I’m being honest I was also afraid. Firstly, driving Rita scared the hell out of me, because I’ve never driven such a big and old vehicle. Besides, what if the van would break down? And of course, I was afraid of regretting my decision. What if I wasted a lot of money? On the other hand, something I wasn’t scared of was registering the van in Germany (at that time she was registered in The Netherlands). Ha!
The day after I picked up the van, paid for it and off we went. Easy! Well, not actually. Before my sister and me even left Portugal, we had to see a mechanic TWICE. Luckily it wasn’t anything serious and we made it back to home soon after (check out my IG highlights to watch the full story!).
That’s when things got difficult…
Importing Rita/ registering her in Germany turned out to be quite a bureaucratic nightmare with countless tears shed and lots of money spent. I’ll spare you the details. Let’s fast forward to the 31st of August, when I finally (!) received Rita’s German licence plates. I am particularly proud that she is recognised as a historic vehicle, which explains her license plates ending with an “H”. That day was, without a doubt, one of the best days of 2020! Or dare I say, of my life?
Luckily I’d been able to explore various countries in Europe, such as Sweden, in the meantime. At first I went on pretty short trips, sometimes a few nights and another time for two weeks. That way I learnt a lot! I figured out what I wanted to change in the van and what I would need to invest in. But most importantly I soon learnt how much I love my VW T3 van – and vanlife in general.
Do you have any questions on my van? You’re about to buy a VW T3 or any other van, but still need some advice? Are you wondering whether a modern or retro van would suit you better?
I’m your girl! Just leave a comment or shoot me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org – I’ll get back to you as soon as I can, pinky promise!