Friday, August 19, 2011

A Lost Palomino

Paula writes

I used to own a 1979 VW Palomino and I am desperately trying to trace it. I would love to know what has become of it.

It was my first VW and I loved it so much, I didn't want to sell it but had to at the time as the engine blew and I just didn't have the money to get it repaired/replaced. I have regretted selling it ever since :-(

The registration number was UWL 359T.

My worst fear is that he has been butchered and sold for spares as his tax ran out in March and he is registered to trade, I am hoping that that is not the case and that hopefully someone is restoring him, I may never know.

Have you seen Boris?

Monday, February 21, 2011

The History of the Palomino

Phil Newman comments on another post...

I just came across the Palomino club whilst browsing. I used to work in the factory where these buses were built and thought you might be interested in some background.

Absolutely! I think to most of us, the background to these vans is obscure, and consists of what little scraps we've scavenged over the years.
The first Palominos were built by Bariban Motorhomes of Newton Abbot in Devon in 1979-80. We also built the Mercedes Autobahn and the VW Autostrada. The Palomino was a real eye-catcher when it was launched as no other VW bay at that time had such a grand high-top or luxurious interior.

The first of the original Bariban Palominos, based on the 2-litre Type 2’s, were produced in 1979. They were designed by Tony Dilnott . I remember being shown the prototype when I went for my interview in 1978 and production started soon after. The Palomino name came from the managing director who had an interest in all things equine. We only converted new bodies, produced in RH and a few LH drive and the only colour Bariban produced was white. The fibreglass roof was made to match that colour. The originals had ‘stylish’ stick on decal strips (go-faster stripes), but they were a bit guady and I doubt if many survived. stylish go-faster stripes!

The production run was quite short because VW stopped producing Type 2s in 1979. However, the design was adapted for the new VW T25. The prototype for this model, whose roof was a cut-down of the earlier version, ran into problems when VW refused to guarantee the body of the van if it rolled, because for our design we had to cut out the large central roof bar. These had to be left in place in all future models, covered by carpet and used to support the upper bunks. If you own an original T25 palomino without a roof spar, then it could well be the prototype.

Before production of the T25 really got off the ground, Bariban went bust. Some months later, all the models, roof moulds and stock were bought at auction by a shady (dodgy) but likeable ‘geezer‘ from London who re-opened the works in May 1980 on a much reduced scale and called it Heritage Motorhomes. I was one of the first to be re-employed there and I remember preparing three vans, one of each model, as demonstrators which were photographed for the glossy brochures. I still have mine in the attic somewhere (I think). We ticked over for another 14 months producing a few T25s and a few Type 2s, usually for customers who brought their own second hand vans but rarely on new bodies.

Gradually, bills became unpaid and the bespoke suppliers who made the roofs, water tanks, metalwork, bunks etc stopped supplying us and the Newton Abbot factory closed in July 1981. The moulds for both types of Palomino roofs were moved to London where I believe roof conversions continued. I’d be interested to know what happened after that. I’m not sure if full conversions of interiors to the original spec also continued, but many of the components were fabricated in Newton Abbot so they would have had to replicate them somehow. Also, the furniture, faced with Afromosia veneer was hand-built and fitted by us at Newton Abbot so the new builders would have had to re-learn that too. For some reason the later Heritage conversions don’t have the black steel luggage racks on the front as on the the originals. The angle in the roof was especially designed to accommodate the rack and they look odd without it – perhaps they broke off or have been removed. If you own an all white Palomino on a 1979 (T or V) plate, then it’s likely to be one of the original Bariban production run. If the original body is any other colour, then it’s a Heritage conversion. I notice one or two examples in your gallery have no roof slit windows and these are definite roof only conversions, done after the Newton Abbot factory closed. The original roofs were seated onto the body with flanged rubber.

I hope this is of interest. Let me know if there’s anything else you need to know and I’ll try and remember. Its good to see a few the old buses that worked on are still on the road and appreciated by you guys.

Phil Newman (still of newton Abbot)

Thanks again Phil. It's absolutely fascinating to hear this information from someone who worked on these vans. I for one am thankful that your workmanship was so good that it's still going strong 30 years later!

An Original Palomino brochure

Somebody, whose name I have unfortunately mislaid (Apolgies!), has scanned this original brochure for the T2 palomino.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Two Palominos on ebay

Two Palominos on ebay this week - this rather rusty but mostly original specimen with the very rare air conditioning option, and this red, refurbished example.

(Yes, I am still alive, and so is my van!)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Your chance to join the Palomino club

And as I crawl out from my box packed with straw like a Blue Peter tortoise, I find the chance for one lucky bidder to join the Palomino club! Oh Yes!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

palomino spotting

Tom's been spotting palominos hiding in the background of photos of inferior campers! Like here

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Gemma has sent in pictures of her purple palomino.

Meanwhile, on the fabulous tat bazaar that is ebay, someone has beheaded a Palomino and is selling the roof! I suppose if you wanted to convert an inferior van to a Palomino, this would be an excellent starting point.