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Local man has decades-long connection to iconic VW van

The Volkswagen van has become a lifestyle for many people around the globe, including Bellefontaine’s own Heath Jackson.


FRONT PAGE PHOTO: Bellefontaine resident Heath Jackson poses with his 1978 Volkswagen camper in Mary Rutan Park as the German automaker plans to cease production of the iconic vans after 63 continuous years. ABOVE: A large bed, cooler and picnic basket are among a few of the amenities inside the camper. (EXAMINER PHOTOS | REUBEN MEES)

And while the German automaker announced plans after 63 continuous years to stop production of the iconic symbol of freedom, independence and general hippiness, it won’t bring an end to that lifestyle.

“I don’t look for this to be an end to it,” Mr. Jackson said. “It won’t hurt the parts industry soon and there were 4.8 million out there when this model was made. A lot are still being cut up and they are still being made in Brazil.”

Mr. Jackson currently owns a 1978 camper van, which was the next to last year the vehicle was released in the U.S. It is his 14th VW van since he graduated Bellefontaine High School in 1993.

But what makes it a classic mystifies even the most devoted VW fan.

“I’m not really sure where this old junk car got its place sitting next to a 1957 Chevy,” Mr. Jackson said noting that his current van has won two awards at recent car shows. “This van only has 56 horsepower and that’s when it’s tuned up and running right.

“As a kid, I remember seeing them out when we were camping and it seemed neat and compact. But when I got my first one, it was what I could afford and I thought it was neat looking.”

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