Westfalia Club Joker and Club Joker City transferred to the T6 version of VW’s Transporter from its predecessor for the 2016 model year.
Despite sharing that Club Joker moniker, they are actually quite different types of motorhome.
Club Joker City is a short-wheelbase campervan (see our best campervan guide if you’re looking for one) with a front-hinged elevating-roof. Instead of following the well-trodden path of the classic Vee dub camper by placing a run of furniture along the side opposite the sliding door, and using the remaining space to accommodate a bench-style rock-n-roll seat/bed, Westfalia has come up with a corker of a campervan layout.
A pair of ergonomically correct, crash-tested, forward-facing Isofix travel seats is placed just behind the (swivelling) cab seats. The former are ahead of the shower and cassette toilet. Yes, that’s right, a shower and a toilet in a short-wheelbase campervan!
The kitchen is on ‘our’ offside, to the rear of the main salon. The longitudinal double bed unfolds from the cab roof, is of a generous size, and boasts Froli rubber petal-style springing.
Quite an achievement to include so much within an overall length of 4.89m (a gnat’s whisker over 16ft).
The Club Joker is based on the standard-height long-wheelbase variant, to which Westfalia has added its own curvaceous GRP moulded overcab high-top. It’s a natty design that facilitates the inclusion of more headroom and a generously sized double bed, which unfolds from the overcab, but crucially leaves much of the interior easily accessible with the bed deployed.
Westfalia wasn’t the first to do this, though – Canterbury did it on the Ford Transit-based Sunhome in the 1970s, and Auto-Trail on the Sevel-based Badger and Fox in the mid-1990s.
The Club Joker layout is similar to that of the City, but there is more of everything and its high-top allows for a ‘proper’ walk-in comfort station.
The Club Joker is a conversion that transcends the usual motorcaravan delineation, in that this is a high-top offering coachbuilt-level spaciousness in the roomy interior.
The only downside to not using VW’s own high-top van is that the side door remains standard height, with the result that access and egress is more challenging (but not impossible) for wheelchair users.
On the mechanical side, VW began production of the T6 with the engine options of the outgoing T5s. These were quickly replaced with revised Euro 6 units, which Westfalia chose at 150bhp for UK-bound ’vans. Automatic transmission and/or four-wheel drive were extra-cost options.
In 2019 the T6.1 was launched, with many upgrades, including a change to electric power-steering, a deeper front grille, improved driver safety systems, and state-of-the-art infotainment.
The original RRP of these desirable models is very much a starting point, because most purchasers would have specified upgrade packs, inflating the price by £5000 to £12,000.
While Henry Ford memorably said of the Model T that “you can have any colour, as long as it’s black”, Westfalia says of Club Joker and Club Joker City that you can have any colour, including black! Westfalia was the first volume campervan converter to make a VW motorcaravan back in 1951, which you can find out about in our Hall of Fame entry for the Westfalia Camping Box on VW Transporter Type 2.
The company was ahead of the pack then and many owners would argue that 72 years later, it still is. What is indisputable is the length and quality of that pedigree.
What to look out for in a Westfalia Club Joker & Club Joker City
Considering the low mileage most ’vans cover, any on the VW Transporter T6 should drive superbly. Look for a full main-dealer service history, vital if there is still warranty remaining.
On DSG (automatic gearbox) models, gearchanges should be barely noticeable. Transporters are extremely reliable, with few faults reported. But they are not fault-free, so check that the recall for the airbags has been carried out.
Other reported problems concern the EGR valve causing the engine management light to illuminate – a flush-through at a VW specialist usually clears this. Another tell-tale of EGR problems is uneven idling.
Westfalia specifies double-glazed acrylic side windows, which shouldn’t suffer the reported leaks from VW’s own single-glazed, bonded windows.
There are no problems to report with any commonality. Westfalia uses quality materials, fixtures and fittings, and is very skilled at construction.
However, it doesn’t ‘hand’ the conversion on right-hand-drive examples, resulting in the residential door being on ‘our’ offside. My opinion is that this requires serious thought before families sign on the dotted line, because the Club Joker City is likely to be used as an ‘only vehicle’, including on the school run.
A moment’s inattention by adults could result in the children discharging themselves into the traffic. Of course, if you are sure you’ll always deploy the child lock, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Club Joker City as an ‘only vehicle’, and Club Joker for coachbuilt comfort in a panel van. I would always look for an automatic, but it wouldn’t be a deal breaker.
What to pay
It’s a quality conversion on a premium base vehicle – with residual values to match! It’s not difficult to breach the £100,000 barrier on a new Club Joker. We found a fully loaded 2021 automatic Club Joker City at Roseisle Luxury Campervans (Musselburgh), at a sharp £69,995. Just over 7500 miles covered. RRP today for a brand-new example, similarly equipped, would be £85,000+.
Or you could try…
- Alternatives to Club Joker City: Westfalia Kepler (VW), VW California, Westfalia Jules Verne (Mercedes Vito).
- Alternatives to Club Joker: Hillside Leisure Buxton, Bilbo’s Nexa+
Other ‘vans Gentleman Jack has recently looked at…
- Auto-Sleeper Symphony & Symbol (1995-2006): these are fitted with a stylish GRP high-top and built on the five-door incarnation of the Boxer.
- Lunar Landstar (2015-2019): these came with carefully thought layouts, both in form and function.
- Vantage rear-lounge models (2007-present): these are ‘vans with ingenious design details.
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