Van life: Nao Tomii on his 1999 Volkswagen Eurovan Winnebago Camper
As much as we’d like for it to be so, man – not least of all the family man – can’t live on driver’s cars alone—occasionally, he needs practical transportation, too. And when it comes to transporting multiple passengers across multiple state lines across multiple days (or weeks, or even months) and living out of that very transportation module, does it get much better than the iconic Volkswagen van? We think not. Here, we talk to Nao Tomii about his van ownership experience.
MCB: How and when did you first become interested in VW vans?
NT: I used to own an ’87 Vanagon (non-camper) before the Eurovan. I replaced it with the Eurovan because of the convenience of using it while camping as a family of four. Compared to the Vanagon, the Eurovan is also useful for long trips with its VR6 motor and functional AC!
MCB: What are they like to own?
NT: Practical and a lot of fun. The gas mileage isn’t awful for a camper. I get 21 mpg on the highway. It has a tough engine, though as for maintenance, it needs little more care than new cars. It has been fun taking care of the van.
This van also has my second kitchen, dining room, bedroom, and more! You can save so much money with this van by not having to stay in hotels.
MCB: How does your Eurovan compare to your old ’87 Vanagon? What was that like?
NT: Those two vans are completely different, as one is really a “Fun Bus” while the other is a thoroughly modern van. The Vanagon was super fun to drive, but for our current needs, the Eurovan suits us much better as a family camper. That said, I do like them both!
MCB: Are there any other cars or vans that you’d like to own?
MCB: Any favorite trips that you’ve taken in either of your two vans?
NT: We just drove from LA to Austin, stopping by Sedona, Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley, Santa Fe, the Whitesands National Monument, and Carlsbad Cavern. Driving from Boston to Acadia, Maine and Key West, Florida were great, too.
All of the trips we’ve taken in the VW could qualify as favorites.
MCB: You build custom bicycles for a living (exquisite ones at that!). We’ve noticed that people into cycling seem to be into VW vans. Why do you think that is?
NT: I guess Volkswagen’s image is somehow more welcomed by cycling-friendly people. On a more practical level, the van is very useful for carrying cycling gear and for camping out at races and rides.
MCB: Any concluding thoughts?
NT: I am so grateful to own this van and it’s even fun just to camp out in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart.
If there is anyone thinking about getting a VW camper I’d say go for it! You’ll have so much fun with it.
Nao Tomii is the owner and builder of tomii cycles.
Images © Nao Tomii