Conceived by Craig McCormack in 2009 and developed across a period of 9 months, the Doubleback was introduced at Vanfest 2009. However, it wasn’t until later, in 2012, that it would cause serious waves, through a partnership with Danbury Motor Caravans. Danbury and McCormack partnered to introduce the first generation of the Doubleback, with the second-gen model introduced with significant improvements next year.
August is Travel Month here on autoevolution, and the VW Doubleback is a perfect fit because it’s the ideal family vacation vehicle, a nearly complete solution for long trips and stays in the great outdoors, without the hassle of having to tow a trailer or drive a much larger vehicle.
In the meantime, the VW Doubleback is quite the unicorn: a gorgeous, gleaming, sparkling and magic unicorn slash campervan that made a brief splash on the market and then seemingly went away for good.
The idea for the Doubleback was elegantly simple and, because of it, brilliant: take a Volkswagen Transformer van and convert it into a family camper without it losing its daily driver capabilities. This way, you’d get a spacious tiny home-like camper, but still have a van that would be easy to drive and park in the city. This was achieved through a pop-out module that slid out the back electronically and then self-leveled on two pegs. Using “aircraft industry techniques and materials,” the makers built the pod out of honeycombed aluminum, which made it very lightweight yet durable.
The module nearly doubles the interior space, while weighing just 150 kg (331 pounds). Moreover, it comes with a max payload of 600 kg (1,323 pounds) when it’s leveled on the two pegs, which means you can slide it out even with all your gear in the back. At the same time, when the extension is not in use, you can still drive the van on the daily and even haul stuff in it, as everything but the galley packs neatly away.
Inside, under different layouts, the two models offered the same features: bed and a lounge area that was also a dining room, a small kitchen with the bare necessities, and some storage space. With the pop-up, you had standing height inside when the bed wasn’t dropped down. Speaking of which, marketing materials never showed the drop-down bed in the pop-up tent.
The second-generation model included more space for the kitchen (it even had a proper oven, larger sink with fresh water, and countertop), additional foldable seats, additional foldable tables, and more storage, all of it possible through a redesign of the layout. Customization options were offered, from the choice of interior materials and colors, to the position of the galley depending on whether you wanted a right-hand or left-hand-drive, and the number of belted seats you wanted.
The first Doubleback was priced at £55,000, which is roughly $76,000 at the current exchange rate. The second-generation model was offered with a price drop, at £48,000 ($66,000), or you could bring your own Volkswagen Transporter van, in which case you’d only pay for the conversion.