by Josh Rodgers
Sundial campers are most commonly recognized by five (three on driver side, two on the passenger side) SINGLE pane, pop-out windows rather than the LOUVERED style associated with the Westfalia campers. Often, they have a third non-popout single pane window on the passenger side.
Also, Sundial started with panel vans (VIN begins 215) and cut windows into them whereas Westfalia pulled the existing windows from a standard van, or Kombi (VIN begins 235). For this reason, many purists scoff at the Sundial as a, "poor modification toa perfectly good panel van". As with any product Vw produced, Sundial also produced many campers from Kombis, and even used louvered windows.
So there really is no hard-set rule for distinguishing these campers except for a badge found in the interior.
The camper conversion company was American so the interest in the Sundial is quite mixed. It is generally regarded as an "inferior" conversion in quality compared to the Westy, but it IS the most popular of the few American camper conversions to VW vans. Possibly, pride in American work (whether inferior or superior)and the American love for the "underdog" make the Sundial as popular as it is.
Being the most well known American camper conversion, many people mistakenly label their camper Sundial. Pretty much all American converters used the same single paned popout windows. The only real distinguishing factors are in the interior. Some other American camper conversion companies that are often confused with the Sundial include E-Z, Camper of America, Riviera, Coleman, and Kit.
Due to the scarcity of the Sundial, I have seen the original interior of only a few years of Sundials. Most restorers opt to just use a Westfalia interior or else make a completely custom interior for obvious reasons. I found an interior picture of a 1964 Camper for sale that listee, David Easterwood, pointed out to me to be a Sundial.
This interior very highly resembles the SO-42 interior of my '65 Westy. Many Sundial owner's note the bed for Sundial's (Z-style) to be more comfortable and easier to operate than Westy beds.
The exteriors of the Sundial are most commonly an off-white color with the painted hub cabs and primered rear interior. These details were standard from Germany for the panel van as they were designed for commercial use. Possibly, more popular than the Camper conversion itself, the infamous Sundial Tent that came with the Sundial campers was unique in that it had a fringed top w/ removable sides. Usually, they were wide green and white perpendicular stripes.
The following pictures are taken from camper interiors from '64 - '66:
Above is owner and year unknown