The Camper Van right on, we’re off

For a late summer 2010 road trip to Portugal Pam buys us a vintage camper van. We could drive down south in her faithful Renault Clio in just a couple of days but for future use the camper van has to come into our life anyway, so what could possibly be a better moment — the trip to Azenhas do Mar already having been planned and confirmed with friends and family, for September 2010 to happen.

Azenhas is around the corner from where Pam spent many summers in the late 1960s-early 70s, living at the family’s then secondary home in Janas. She knows the place, she loves some of its inhabitants especially family aid Fernanda now 75 years of age. So we return there this year, a simple plan, for a simple van to go with.


Far from being an oversized fridge like the contemporary ‘mobile home’ the 1972 Renault Estafette 1000 Studio Car is more like a tin-tent-on-wheels from the earlier days of automotive camping. Having its own propulsion it does not need to be pulled. Neither is it folded out, stretched between poles or pinned to the ground. The only change one has to perform every evening is to turn the dining room into the bedroom and back again the next morning.

Many drawers, niches and even a cupboard store anything from clothes to tea spoons to a wheel lock, gas bottles, 10 cd player, various tools and whatnot. The sink and cooking stove are a miracle in themselves, with a shiny blue Formica inside and imitation wood and marble outside. It houses the tiniest of fridges and even a heating device in the middle of the floor.

camper van noselength

nose and tail and other differences

estafette among the fridges

between the fridges and the Estafette, at Praia das Maças

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The Star Studio Car mobility obliges

The finest camper van of all allows mobility and flexibility with it, around it and inside of it. Designed as an automotive compact appartment, its primary functions allow to drive it, to park it and to live in it: upright or lying down, cooking, reading, writing, sleeping. Some of these activities might as well and others will have to take place around it. Where ever you decide to halt it.

estafette star studio car


start studio-car interior


If only for the typography of its studio interior’s original 1972 plaquette one has to appreciate this camper van. The name is a trouvaille all by itself. “Studio car”, in its original French, meaning as much as ‘apartment van’. To clear things up “Equipement camping” was added, designating the proper use of the camionette. The ‘star’ brand name’s truly international claim is reflected in the ‘International’ capital I’s same bold type as the brand name, meaning that actually this I is an i...

sign of the times

When I read ‘studio car’ however, I read artistic drift: ‘studio’ as in artist studio. Like as a van load of material, a mobile media studio, montage room on wheels, everything analogic or digital a van can contain, plus someone to mold that stuff, to drive the artistry. This van to me is all studio affordance: it has certain qualities to allow specific productions. Mobility obliges. If in flexibility with, around and inside of it lies its importance, this certainly goes for its use as an artist studio.

While the technical equipment of my artistry is primarily contained in a portable Mac and a digital camera, I still bring watercolour, paper, inks, pencils, notebooks to the studio car. If they do not serve on one voyage, they might do so on the next. “Beter mee verlegen dan om verlegen” as we say in Dutch: rather in the way than nowhere to be found when you need them.

evening studio work

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white line

the camper van
the studio-car

camper vanity
around-the-van interaction

books on wheels
the rearview mirror
the map is not the territory
‘nomadic reverie’



the Netherlands-France, Italy, Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia, Czechia, Germany


the Netherlands-France vv


the Netherlands

the Netherlands-Portugal vv
Amsterdam-Azenhas do Mar
Around Azenhas
Azenhas do Mar-Amsterdam

jk at the wheel
first sight Pam at the wheel jk at the wheel
first sight Jouke at the wheel

Internet Movie Cars Database



P+J Renault Estafette Studio Car 2010