You can recognize American camper conversion companies most easily by the window type and count. Sundial commonly installed five windows (three on driver side, two on the passenger side) single pane, pop-out windows. Sundial being the most popular of the American manufacturers. The German made Westfalia used louvered windows. In addition, the Westfalia Camper will often have a third non-popout single pane window on the passenger side.
To build a Sundial Camper, the company would start with panel vans (VIN begins 215) and cut windows into the sides. Where as the Westfalia Camper started from a van, or Kombi (VIN begins 235) and would proceed to replace the existing windows. For this reason, many VW purists look down on the Sundial Camper as a, “poorly modified VW panel van.” Sundial did fit some Kombis and vans with their aftermarket setup, but for cost reasons the best approach was start with a panel van. In another article we will talk more about Volkswagens import strategy that resulted in a higher percentage of panel vans than the consumer market could bare.
Being that there are some general guidelines for determining if a camper is an authentic Sundial, but they are not perfect rules. The most obvious way to determine if a camper is a Sundial is to look for the badge / logo on the interior.
As a general rule the Sundial camper is regarded as an inferior camper conversion compared to the Westfalia. It is however the most popular of a handful of American camper conversion companies that existed at the time.
Being the most well known American camper conversion company, many people mistakenly label their camper a Sundial. This is understandable given that most all American converters used the same single paned pop-out windows. The only real distinguishing factor is the interior and when dealing with a 60 year old vehicle one can assume that at least some elements of the interior will not be original. Sundial’s competitors included E-Z, Camper of America, Riviera, Coleman, and Kit.