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China’s Fun SongSan Motors Summer Channels a Retro VW Camper Mood

Call it a rip-off, call it an homage—whatever it is, it looks like fun.

The Volkswagen T1—the Bus, Bulli, Transporter, pop-top camper, whatever guise or name you'd like to refer to it by—is legitimately an icon. Its impact has lasted far longer than the T1 or any of its successors did in the U.S. market. Abroad, our European friends have enjoyed the Volkswagen Caddy and T6 California for a while, but we haven't—and won't. The I.D. Buzz electric bus—not its final name—is a ways off. While the SongSan Summer isn't a Volkswagen, and also isn't coming here, it's sure to intrigue VW camper van fans on these shores.

Let's be charitable and call it an homage inspired by the classic pop-top VW campers, because it's definitely not a direct clone. Take the side-opening pop-top, more like a Bedford Dormobile than the most common VW pop-top conversions. The rounded two-box shape (and that schnoz) is also a departure from the bluff T1 fascia. No one can deny the inspiration, but it's no clone.

SongSan also showed off another retro-inspired creation, the Dolphin, a more direct copy of the 1958 Corvette, but the pertinent part there is that the Summer and the Dolphin reportedly share a PHEV drivetrain. Also, they're fun and whimsical, which given the way 2020 has played out no one can fault.

Now, where's our VW camper already, German or otherwise?