A NEW APPROACH IN AN AGE OLD BUSINESS+44 (0) 1926 691 141
Sold for: £65,250
The Volkswagen Type 2 was introduced in 1950 as a multi-variant utility vehicle, known as the Transporter, Kombi or Microbus (depending on body type), and was devised as an evolution of the Volkswagen Type 1, the original Beetle. The first generation of these versatile vehicles (named the T1) was produced with distinctive split-screens (‘splitties') from 1950 until 1967. Only two models were originally offered, the Kombi and the Commercial, the Microbus was added in May 1950, and was joined by the Deluxe Microbus in June 1951. The Deluxe Microbus (known as the ‘Sunroof Deluxe' in America) was the most luxurious version of the Volkswagen Transporter T1. The Deluxe model featured eight rear side windows and two rear corner windows, making it the '15-window' but was not available in Europe. Meanwhile, the European-market Deluxe Microbus, with its additional eight small skylight windows is, accordingly, the '23-window'. From the 1964 model year with its wider rear door, the rear corner windows were discontinued, making the latter two, the 13-window and 21-window respectively. The 23 and later 21 window variants each carry the famous nickname 'Samba' and are especially revered. Instead of a sliding door at the side, the Samba had two pivot doors and a fabric sunroof and were mostly painted in two colours, usually with the upper part coloured white and the two coloured sections being separated by a decorative strip. Sambas also have a more comprehensive dashboard than the normal T1 and are fitted with a so-called "hat" over the front split-screen which acts as a sun visor for the driver. When Volkswagen started producing the successor to the T1 (the T2) the company also stopped producing the Samba, so sadly no Sambas were available in later versions of the Volkswagen Transporter - making these early and rare models very sought-after and collectable. 552 UVL arrived on our shores from South Africa in the early 2000s and was immedi ately stripped back to a bare shell to fully establish how much work was going to be needed. The answer was 'lots'. Repairs were carried out to the chassis sections, outriggers and floor prior to etch priming the whole shell. It was then primed and flatted six times, before being shipped off to the paint shop to be finished in the original Beige Grey over Sealing Wax Red. When it came to the running gear, the decision was taken to depart from standard to improve daily driving and cruising speed. A 'Creative Engineering' IRS kit was matched with a 1303 Beetle gearbox and the beam/ball joint/ brakes from a '68 Bay Camper. A 1600 Twin Port engine was built by Bear VW Services who also rebuilt the gearbox. All the parts required to rebuild this bus were either NOS (new old stock) or original parts, and even the semaphores were sourced from the States and are NOS. The chrome parts were also sourced as new and not re-chromed. Great attention to detail has gone into the interior with a base '59 Devon interior being purchased in advance and then refitted to this bus. Even the flooring with its red and white tiles, a feature only found in the Deluxe models, has been recreated to add to the original feel. All of the cabinets and woodwork were completely overhauled and re-varnished to an as new finish, and the cab seat and door panels were trimmed by 'Spirit of the Fifties'. The result is amazing - pure 1959. The bus was finally completed in 2005 and has travelled a mere 2,000 miles since its rebirth. There is a five-page colour feature on the story of 552 UXL's rebuild in the April 2006 edition of "Volkswagen Camper and Commercial", a copy of which is in the history file along with the V5 and a number of invoices. The world's appetite for VW Campers never seems to fade and this superbly detailed and sympathetically upgraded example is one of the nicest we have seen.