Returning from a day of testing a new 3.5 m Zodiac on the East Coast of Essex with Chris; a newly found friend determined to find excitement outside his London office, I fell across my next travelling associate sitting on the side of the road. With owners who had to sell and wheels pointing south, I had found a potential candidate.
Chris reduced speed to stop in front of the for sale sign, his mouth locked open while glaring at the ultimate boys toy box through the setting sun.
”That’s a fair price for a 6.5 metre Mercedes, do you want to take a look?”
”Sure thing, if it still drives, but the price looks a bit too low”
“Looks like a good story to me, it’s a coach build on a Mercedes running gear; a 308 stretched to the maximum.”
Pulling into the car park, we circled the machine, checking out the deal: A 1980, Wilk 650s A-class camper, with a four speed box and a petrol engine. Is this what I needed?
It was destined to be my second camper. My first a VW Transporter used for two months the summer before as I passed my days commuting between the beaches of the Western France and the office in Bordeaux. The simplicity of the mobility and the changing views through the wide screen television had given me a feel of things to come, an alternative arrangement to the hotel world which was wearing me inside and out.
The interior had been constructed in wood and included a shower, tiled kitchen, basin, solid table and large bed. Hiding underneath a one hundred Litre fresh water tank and enough storage for my clothes and sports equipment sold it to me after a few test runs around the local roads.
To my fascination this camper, had already come into my life ten years ago, on a beach outside St Tropez. A travelling singer and his wife, where passing through the region where I was working, their camping car was the one that I had just brought from a man called Brian in Essex, a good omen? Only time will tell..
With a new camper on my hands and a meeting in Morocco for the New Year, I had a lot to sort out. To the outside I added a new solar panel giving me the security against a flat battery and the option of powering up my 12volt computer when the sun was out. Behind the panel I welded two racks to the roofs guttering for surfboards and fishing rods and a lockable top box, screwed to the back for the snowboards and spare bike tyres finished off the roof jobs. Chris found me the ideal bike to tender the camper, a TY 250 Twin Shock, a 1980’s Yamaha trials bike. Its two-stroke engine, classed as bomb proof in the trials world. This mounted on the back of the Wilk kept the 1980’s look and versatility that I would need for the journey when I was parked up in a town with thin roads.
By the end of November the “toy box” and her captain were ready to roll. The storage spaces had been filled with all the paraphernalia for surfing, climbing, fishing, snowboarding, trekking and the motorbike hung discreetly over the back; it was time to move.