Some Danbury facts.

Discussion in 'Camper Conversions' started by Poptop2, Apr 2, 2014.

  1. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    Danbury as we know them now are a importer and official converter of vw type 2c campervans and operate succesfully from a base in Yate near Bristol uk. However the original Danbury company came late to the VW camper market converting kombi's from 1964 at it's Chelmsford Essex works.


    The initial 1964 multicar was based on 1963 model type 2. By 1968 Danbury was give official vw status which they lost again in 1972 when the Devon company tied up an exclusive deal with VW. However, they regained VW official status in 1977.

    In 1966 the Dnbury multicar was available in panel van or kombi conversions, The bulk furniture such as sinks cookers etc were designed to be placed in different areas of the conversion to suit the woners requirement. they were easily removed and as such held great appeal. the question of whether these items should be fixed or not was addressed by HM customs when it decreed all items in a camper must be fixed, this caused Danbury to redesign the multicar cooker thus making it so as the cooker tilted to allow access to the gas bottle below.

    Prices in 1966 for the basic walkthrough multicar camper were £956 for a panel van walkthrough conversion through to £1313 for the deluxe microbus version with Pitt elevating roof added you would pay another £110 or Gentlux roof would add £75.


    Other early accessory's available from Danbury included - To colour paint £30. 8ft canopy £10.15S. Refrigerator £21. 15s.

    Pictures to follow...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Best picture I could find of a Canterbury Pitt elevating roof. It is on a splitty with complete Canterbury Pitt conversion.

    [​IMG]

    Gentlux elevating roof....

    [​IMG]



    About Canterbury Pitt
    All motor vehicles brought in the UK at the time were subject to purchase tax, but motorhomes where considered exempt. Apparently, the regulations at the time suggested that in order to satisfy the label ‘motorhome’, all the internal fittings had to be permanent. Indeed, it was even stated that the vehicle needed to have a dining area, beds, a cooker, a wardrobe and water carrying equipment.

    These rules also stated that the VW Transporter was a commercial vehicle and because of this it was restricted to 30mph and was also subject to purchase tax. Pitt had got around the ‘fittings’ issue by designing the Open Plan conversion in 1956, which then became the de-facto conversion in the 1960’s. However, he still had to convince the authorities that the Volkswagen Transporter; once converted should be classed as a motorhome. He did this by intentionally driving his vehicle to the Royal Park in Windsor which had a ban on commercial vehicles. He was subsequently arrested and the resulting court case ruled that Pitt’s motorhome was not a commercial vehicle. No purchase tax and the VW could be driven at more than 30 miles an hour in one hit – fantastic.



    Import duties on foreign vehicles still prohibited in cost terms the commercial production of VW campers at this time and because of this Pitt still concentrated his commercial business on converting Commer’s and Austin’s. He did still build VW Motorhomes but only on a custom basis.

    In 1960 Pitt used his early Open Plan design and reintroduced the Volkswagen in to the range of vehicles that he as building. The design was innovative and consisted of modular units that could be used or laid out in a variety of ways. But the real innovation this year was the introduction of a new type of elevating high roof called the Rising Sunshine Roof. The spring loaded design could be opened in a variety of ways from open only at one end to half open or fully closed. Before this, most roof units where of a fixed high-roof design. Apparently, no VW’s using this roof design survive today.

    Sorry , this is work in progress, please feel free to add photos of your Danbury or Pitt roof ( later Canterbury Pitt ) or Gentlux roof if you have a picture. I know this as centred on split screen campers so far, I am researching bays atm and will add more as I find out. Malc





    In 1961 Pitt Moto Caravans merged with Canterbury Sidecars and the operations where moved to Romford and subsequently marketed as Canterbury Pitt Conversions. In 1963 after the move to Romford the designs and fittings where updated and refined to produce the VW Canterbury Pitt Open Plan Moto-Caravan which soon became a classic and remained basically thee same until production ceased.

    Here is an excerpt from one of there brochures:

    “Go anywhere – see everything, free from timetable restrictions and accommodation problems. No hotel bills for your family and friends … there’s plenty of room for all … with your gear neatly stowed away in the ample locker and wardrobe space. Be free as a bird to wander as the mood takes you, stopping at will. Or, when not on pleasure bent turn your caravan in to a highly mobile office. The furniture swings into several self-locking arrangements with remarkable ease, or folds away to increase the low central floor space to 16sq ft so that your caravan becomes a willing work horse for the transport of bulky packages”

    In 1965 a walk-through option was introduced and was named the ‘Open Plan Divided Gangway model. Sadly, Peter Pitt died in 1969 and because of this the production of the Caterbury Pitt Moto Caravan ceased production. There are only a few surviving vehicles left today so if you see one for sale – buy it and help preserve a part of the Volkswagen camper story

    Text taken from www.classcampers.com

    More History can be found in Malcolm Bobbitt’s book: The Volkswagen Bus Book
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2014
    Coco and Flakey like this.
  2. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator


    So what is the significance of Canterbury Pitt I hear you ask, Well, Peter Pitt ( MD of Pitt conversions) began making camper conversions in and around the same time as Jack P white of Sidmouth. (Later Devon conversions) Peter Pitt was said to have visited the J P White factory in the mid 50's and come away inspired by the simplicity of vw's ( citation needed here as wiki say's) Danbury were very impressed with Canterbury Pitt elevating roof's and especially 'the sunshine roof' and ordered these roof's from Canterbury Pitt for their own use on their very similar conversions, There was more than a mediocre trade between the two ( nay three) company's. Anyhow before Peter Pitt came to camper conversions all vans were classed as commercial vehicle's and subject to purchase tax as commercials are today, they were also limited to 30 mph, None of these laws were very appealing to folks seeking the open road. Peter Pitt actually took on the establishment and to do so purposely drove his campervan conversion onto the Royal park at Windsor. he was arrested and the subsequent court case ruled his camper not to be a commercial vehicle,, yay for the man!

    Peter Pitt died in 1969, Sadly his company folded, Yet Mr Pitt left behind a legacy for British coachbuilders in the shape of opening up the market re tax and speed. He also pioneered one of the best conversion techniques which Danbury too adhered to. the movable unit conversion and the unmistakeable Canterbury Pitt pop top. Below.

    [​IMG]


    A superb Canterbury Pitt conversion from 1967.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Canterbury Pitt did convert early baywindow campers and there are a few about. Possibly my favourite British conversion which I always look forward to spotting at shows.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2014
  3. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  4. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Some more Danbury facts.
    I used to live there.
    They weren't in Chelmsford, it's about 5 miles outside.
    I crashed my Morris Marina pick up there in 1987.
    I was stopped by the Police in Danbury in 1993 because my "mates" in the back of my Turret top Westy had lifted the roof while we were driving. (It did clear the "smoke" though. ;) )
     
    paneuropaul, 3TNC and Poptop2 like this.
  6. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
     
    Coco likes this.
  7. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    I bet the you wish you still had the turret top westy.
     
    Coco likes this.
  8. Dead right!
    A German one with proper underfloor heating, the entire interior was immaculate and it had no rust.
    I swapped it for a £1500 bike. :(
     
  9. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    I spent the day camped next to a late one a local vw friend owns last summer at Arley, I must admit they are very nice!
     
  10. I actually fancy a poptop now.
    I'll have to wait and see if I'm still employed next year.
    If so, a poptop is on the cards and I'll turn Ted back into a Deluxe Mini Bus.
     
    3TNC and Poptop2 like this.
  11. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    Bump
     
  12. Mr Bump?

    [​IMG]
     
    Coco and Poptop2 like this.
  13. hi guys we own a feb 72 danbury
    he came with a crappy ply interior which i removed then built a bespoke oak interior but wasn't happy with it so set out to find original
    took me a while but got one in the end although not cheap it'll look good can't wait to fit it in the summer
     
    Coco and Poptop2 like this.
  14. Flakey

    Flakey Sponsor

    :TTIWWP:
     
    chris james likes this.
  15. Here pic of our 72 Danbury
     
  16. image.jpeg
     
    Flakey likes this.
  17. Flakey

    Flakey Sponsor

  18. image.jpeg image.jpeg Only got pic of one that's in it due to come out image.jpeg
     
    Coco and Flakey like this.
  19. Attached Files:

    Poptop2 likes this.
  20. Poptop2

    Poptop2 Moderator

    Nice bit of techy stuff at the bottom :thumbsup:
     

Share This Page