The Surfmobile Devotional Part II. Build Your Own Virtual VW Vanagon With This Addictive Little Website.

by Chris Dixon

T3designer’s near replica of  Jean Claude Damn Van, our needy, demanding, badass third child. pictured below. 


Photo: Quinn Dixon

A few weeks ago, a buddy sent me a link to a highly addictive website. It’s not Minecraft, TMZ, Lego Creator or the Internet Archive’s incredible Internet Arcade (if you’re a fan of old school games like Defender and Frogger, do not click that link). No, for someone like me, T3 Designer is a far worse addiction. T3 Designer was created by a German VW nut, Frank “Hilby” Hilbert. It’s a simple bit of Flash codework that lets you build infinite virtual variants of the 1980’s to early 90’s Volkswagen Vanagon, also known as the T3. Of course, modern car manufacturers let you do all sorts of high-zoot sample build-outs on their websites, but this simple 2-dimensional program would surely have dropped the jaws of the T3’s original engineers. With it, you can build out your own perfect beach or campmobile. Once I started tinkering, I quickly blew an hour. Soon, my kids and I wasted another.

This seafoam green VW Vanagon was virtually built by my daughter Lucy. It bears a striking resemblance to a Syncro Adventurewagen I once built out for a well known traveling singer/surfer/fisherman/son of a son of a sailor. 


Photo: Chris Dixon

I sent Frank “Hilby” Hilbert an email asking about his site and here’s an edited version of what he wrote back in his best GermanEnglish. “I’ve been a long time fan of T3 vehicles and have now a small collection. In my college days, I bought a cheap postal (T3) vehicle in which I spent my many vacations. It was a high roof (diesel) large and cheap to run, but very slow. It took me easily to Sweden, Croatia, Italy, France, Spain and Portugal. After my studies, I bought a faster 1.6 (turbodiesel) JX Multivan and sat on top a sleek Dehler roof (Dehler type roof pictured below).”

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“Over the years a Karmann Gypsy has been added. With power steering and an intercooler, driving is much more convenient.”

“I’m building a T3 Syncro Double Cab (Doka). It gives me a lot of fun with these old cars to drive. In Germany, the T2/Microbus has become very rare and too expensive for the majority. Therefore most young people drive the T3. I searched a long time for a way to represent all variants of the T3. Since I had not found anything, I started to build myself a website. T3-Designer is still in progress and constantly being improved.”

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A “Dakar” Syncro Westfalia by my five-year-old son, Fritz.  Image:

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Fritz’s Orange LowRider. Image:


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My daughter Lucy created her pink dream machine. Image:

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Fritz’s Low-Slung Sinka (single cab) Racer. Image:


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And his jacked-up camper-backed pickup truck. Image:

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Lucy’s panel delivery racer van.

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A four door Doka pickup truck.


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Fritz was quite proud of his Club Joker.

So there you have it. Now go build your own.

Or give a read to “The Surfmobile Devotional Part I. An Ode to the Venerable Volkswagen Vanagon Camper.


— CD

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