Westy: What Does That Mean?

The term “Westy" is short for “Westfalia," which is the once-defunct (but now re-emerging) German company that originally specialized in all things travel trailer related. In the 1950s, VW contracted Westfalia to “camperize” the VW Bus, and a legend was born. All throughout the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, and up to about 2002, VW and Westfalia had a very close relationship.

Rumor has it that there was a friendly agreement between the heads of VW and Mercedes Benz to the effect of: “VW—you stay out of the heavy truck business. And MBZ—you stay out of the pop-top van business." VW decided in the late ‘90s that they wanted to be the largest automobile manufacturer on the planet, and they began buying many small companies—including some that made large trucks. So, as the rumor goes, the executives at MBZ pulled a fast one. Westfalia was quickly and quietly purchased by MBZ around 2003, which brought a sudden end to the relationship between VW and Westfalia. MBZ began producing pop-top versions of a minivan they call the “Marco Polo." It did not last long—and ultimately Westfalia disappeared, only reappearing recently.

Not all Westfalia conversions had pop-tops, and not all pop-top VW vans were converted by Westfalia—there were many other companies that produced pop-top conversions, as well. In fact, all VW Eurovan full campers (with sink, stove, and fridge) sold in the USA were converted by Winnebago—not Westfalia—starting with a long wheel-base, delivery-van version of the Eurovan. These are commonly referred to as “Winnie” campers. VW also sold their regular wheel-base version of the Eurovan as a Westfalia Weekender, with and without pop-top—but these have never been widely referred to as a “Westy" vehicles.

GoWesty came into being in the mid ‘90s, specializing in the restoration of 1986-91 Vanagon and 97-03 Eurovan full campers. Over time, some of our customers began to refer to their GoWesty-restored vans as their “GoWesty." Nowadays, when somebody refers to a vehicle as a “Westy," it usually means a 1980-1991 Vanagon Westfalia pop-top model. However, it could just as easily be a 1968-79 Bus with a pop-top, as well.