Southern Spirit Campervans makes a Splash! | 22 Jul 2019
How do you reinvent the wheel? That would seem to have been the dilemma faced when Brisbane-based Southern Spirit Campervans (SSC) received a call to design and build a Van Life-inspired camper for the 2019 Queensland Caravan & Camping Supershow. The call came from Brisbane’s Austral Volkswagen and the brief was simple: Keep it simple, but design and build it in three weeks. No pressure…
With traditional campervan design stuck firmly in the 70s – right down to the woodgrain – husband and wife team Pia and Ollie had carte blanche to use their years of custom van building experience and German attention to detail to pull something special out of ‘das hat’.
“In many ways it was a dream build,” Ollie explained, “Because once we had the basic specifications we were left to it”.
The result – called the Splash for now – meant some ‘round-the-clock days (daze?), but the end product proved a hit at the Brisbane Show: so much show the display vehicle tested here was sold and due for delivery the day after this review, with other buyers lining up.
What makes the Splash special? Simplicity. The Van Life movement is built on the KISS maxim: Keep It Simple Stupid. The movement started with people buying old vans, building or installing a makeshift cupboard or two, throwing in a mattress and hitting the road. The usual aim wasn’t full time travel, just ‘escapes’ from the every-day, and the cheaper the better.
Embracing this philosophy, SSC has built a van that pays homage to the whole Van Life thing, but neatly balances minimalism with practicality and functionality. The results is a van without a pop-top roof, hot water system, 240-volt mains power, internal kitchen or grey water tank. It’s best thought of as a camper van ‘lite’, but one with more that just a touch of innovation and street smarts.