This VW camper van drives sideways

Nope, this circa 1976 VW camper van hasn't just been tipped over. It was built this way.

This is the Trippy Tippy Hippy Van and it's the latest crazy race car creation by Maryland police officer and mechanic Jeff Bloch AKA Speedycop. To make it, the van was mounted on top of another vehicle, a 1998 VW Rabbit. He and his team spent over 1000 hours, in just five weeks, to get the sideways van ready for the racetrack. Amazingly, it does zero to 60 in eight seconds!

Bloch, known for his unusual vehicle builds, explains how he came up with the idea for the Trippy Tippy Hippy Van:

The idea came to me—as so many other bad ideas do — by simply wondering how to make something totally conventional into something far more creative and entertaining to watch. Our previous builds were based on the same premise. What if a plane could be made into a racecar? We built the Spirit of LeMons, a '56 Cessna 310, into a totally reliable street/track car that handles incredibly well, despite the mundane '87 Toyota van base. I chose that particular model van because it uses a mid-engine/RWD setup and torsion bars in the front, which made for a low center of gravity, and left no strut towers protruding from the narrow fuselage. What if we did it again, but with a helicopter? Most helicopters have quite rounded bodies and use narrow skids, so even if a fuselage could somehow be sourced cheaply enough, neither would hide the chassis of even a small vehicle inside. The solution was clear to me—use pontoons to hide the vehicle chassis, and add an extra layer of challenge to the build by making it amphibious as well! The Upside-Down Camaro presented fewer serious engineering challenges, but still worked amazingly well as a visual gag. I wanted to recreate the jaw-dropping wow factor of that build, but how? A backwards truck had already been raced. I needed to think more unconventionally.

Why not a vehicle on its side?

But, how? You can't see through a roof. You can't see through an undercarriage. Most vehicle bodies are much wider than they are tall, which means they will be far too narrow once flipped onto their sides. My first thought was that it needed to be both iconic, and a vehicle prone to rollovers for the visual gag to really work. But with such restrictive design parameters, which vehicle? A typical conversion van would have the longer, raised roof required, but offered nothing in the way of real aesthetic appeal, and most are far too heavy. What van has both a smaller body, a raised roof, and a look that is at once both iconic and desirable?

The answer finally popped into my head—it had to be a classic Volkswagen Type 2 Westfalia camper van.


Previously: Just park this VW van fridge right in your kitchen