As a kid in Norn Irn the early seventies, I used to listen to the Beach Boys on an 8 track stereo unit wedged into the dashboard of my Dad’s car. An 8 track cassette, on reflection, would have doubled as a bodyboard.
“We could ride the surf together, while our love would grow, in my Woodie I would take you everywhere I go”. What the heck was a woodie I wondered? (No tittering please, I was a kid, OK?).
I finally figured out that what old Brian Wilson was eugoogolizing alongside his Surfer Girl was a specific version of the “passion wagon”, the “love machine”, the “combie”, the “wheels” or whatever you want to call the vehicle that gets waverider and gear from A to B (where A = too far from beach to walk and B = as close to shoreline as possible).
Of course, this being Britain, while the Yanks had their woodies above, we had the Morris below - the preferred choice of pipe smoking fudsters in tweed.
But wherever the fancy takes you by way of four wheels, all Beach Bums will gradually develop a relationship with their vehicle that may verge on obsession. And to call it a vehicle just ain’t fair. There’s a point in your life when you probably spend more time in it, on it and probably under it, than wherever you call home. Some dudes never move out of their surf van - -check out Rick Stelter’s perspective.
This little vehicle below was mon amour. An AK350 Citroen Left hand drive ’67 import. I could just about sleep in the back of it with a little help from a hip flask of Bushmills. Until the roof rack was fitted, the board was secreted under the chassis when I crashed out. Mind you, when I picked it up for £500, it required some extensive remodelling. A few tins of tank paint courtesy of the MoD and the Gingham curtains had to go!
If you fancy a go at making your own surf van there’s a useful guide that’ll point you in the right direction. If you want to try the combie van experience - minus the clapped out engines and a lifetime subscription to the AA - you can hire one from Kernow Kampers.
Me? With three Nippers now and a Sea Nymph, I need something a little larger to work on - if you have one of these please get in touch!