If you ask most VW owners what they are doing the second weekend of June, they will turn their head, laugh and say Prado, duh! The Blackstar Campout hosted by Vintage Transporter Owners is shaping up to be one of the biggest and best VW shows that So Cal has to offer! Taking place at El Prado Regional Park in Chino, CA campers come as early as Wednesday to camp hang out and have games and events leading up to the show on Sunday. This was our third year being a part of this amazing experience. With each year we see it get much bigger and everyone arrives more and more prepared. The atmosphere alone is unlike any other. Seeing so many aircooled Volkswagens in one place along with all the tents, trailers and barbecues makes for quite a blast from the past. Attending this camp out is the closest that i have ever felt to actually being in the 1970s.
One of the coolest parts of a gathering this size, is being able to see all the unique touches that each individual adds to their ride. It's always interesting to see all the different varieties of the same model cars. Being an aircooled gathering, it limits the crowd to a more select vehicle type leaving you with Volkswagens mostly from the 50's, 60's and 70's, which were built with a rear engine design using a large fan to cool the oil as you drive rather than a radiator that would have water passing through chambers of the engine. The simplistic yet unique design of these cars is a huge part of what brings this community so close together.
The most commonly seen and known Volkswagen, probably in the world is the type 1, more often known as the beetle or bug. Most people who know the bug would also know that the baja version of this car is still the same chassis and typically the same body with fiberglass body panels and upgraded suspension components. This chassis also includes most Manx and other "kit" cars that are simply a bug chassis with a custom fiberglass shell installed. Lastly, while the lesser known Karmann Ghia(pictured above blue with black top) has a slightly different shaped chassis pan, it is still technically part of the type 1 family being that it uses the same front and rear end mechanical components.
Another iconic creation by Volkswagen, the Type 2, also known as the bus or van has a broad variety of different styles as well. The most significant change is made from 1967 to 1968 when they went from a split screen front windshield and V front lines to a single bay front window and more square front end. Aside from the changes made over the years, the bus also came in a variety of different body styles with different features.
The Type 3 is a chassis that Volkswagen began producing in the late 60's that added a nice spice to the aircooled line up. Sporting a sleek Porsche style front end, it came in three different varieties all with a pancake style rear engine maximizing compartment space. Sticking with the simple yet fitting names, the three styles were the Fastback with its sloped and sleek rear end, the Squareback station wagon, and the Notchback sedan.
Being able to spend an entire weekend at a car gathering is a unique experience in itself. Unlike a regular show, you have days instead of hours to check out all of the cars. This gives you a chance to get to know a lot of new people and the way they build their cars. The atmosphere is so relaxed, it makes for a super easy time to grab a beer and get lost in conversation for hours with someone you've never met before.
Overall, the VTO Blackstar Campout is an experience unlike any other. We always look forward to it, and with each year it continues to improve and exceed our expectations. Stay tuned for our article on the Power Wheels Downhill races that took place at the campground on Saturday, as well as the El Prado Show and Shine that took place on Sunday.
Tyler Martin // BKG Co Founder/Writer/Photographer