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XFM Manchester VW camper van - the ultimate in grooviness on four wheels

XFM Manchester is an indie music station that champions local bands and targets a music-aware 20-something listener profile. When it came to choosing the most suitable vehicle to use as an emblem for the station as well as a day to day workhorse for carrying equipment, there was no contest: It had to be a VW camper van.

XFM decided to buy a new Bay camper manufactured in Brazil. This type is identical to the VW campers hired out by Snail Trail, except that the interior has been mostly stripped out, leaving space for a sound system and big speakers.

There are two Big Brother-style bean bags where guests can sit. A regular feature on XFM Manchester is 'Bands in the Van'. Bands who come into the studio to be interviewed are also photographed in the van lounging around on the bean bags.

The XFM van is driven to festivals including Dpercussion in Manchester and the V Festival in Leeds. There, guests can sprawl around in the bean bags listening to music on the speakers.

The rear space can be used for taking equipment to outside broadcast locations or rock festivals. The van is not converted for live broadcasting.

Pulling power

The lucky person in charge of driving the XFM van is Fiona Reed from Manchester.

She tells me: "The response we've got from it is amazing. Whenever you park it on the street, people take photos of it, so they've got our station name on their phone. They show it to their friends and say 'check out this camper van'. It's always got the big XFM logo on the side."

There's no doubt that the van has remarkable pulling power and appeals directly to the station's target listeners. There is simply no other vehicle that could achieve this level of visibility.

I photographed the XFM camper in the car park outside the studios in Salford Quays. I also saw it parked on Peter St Manchester during Manchester's annual In The City music festival.

It all goes to show that when it comes to achieving a cool, alternative / contemporary image, you just can't beat this classic design, developed in the mid-60s, based on a late-40's original, manufactured in the mid-2000s. I think it shares many of the design values and qualities of a classic electric guitar, such as the Gibson Les Paul or Fender Stratocaster.

To see the XFM Manchester VW camper, go to www.xfmmanchester.co.uk/check out what's happening on the station and see if it's going to be down your way in the near future, or at a rock festival or music event.

In the words of a brand manager, this vehicle successfully communicates the brand identity of the station to its targeted listener group, or in the words of a typical young person of today: 'Coooo-ul!'

Aidan O'RourkeAidan O'Rourke has been active in photography and online media since 1995. He has documented the development of the local area in his Eyewitness website (1997-2005) and as a contributor to books, publications and the Manchester Evening News. He runs his Eyewitness photography walks in Manchester, Liverpool and other locations. He offers one-to-one tuition in Photography and Languages. He is a high-level speaker of German and can offer photography walks and tours through the medium of German. Visit www.aidan.co.uk

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