Commit to It, in Style

5 VW Microbuses to Start Your Vintage #VanLife


September 23, 2016 Buying Guides By
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Welcome to Found, a series where classic goods are handpicked by Gear Patrol‘s writers and editors and are ready for a good home.

Minivans are a tough sell these days. The stigma of soccer practice and shopping-mall parking lots hasn’t done them any favors. But there was a time when barrel-shaped people movers were all the rage. Oddly enough, in the ’60s and ’70s Volkswagen played to their strengths: good vibes and cheery demeanor. Oh how times have changed.

Luckily the secondhand market for VW Microbuses from that era is massive. And why shouldn’t it be? The Microbus came in so many different flavors, all geared toward having a fantastic time with friends and family on the open road. And since the pool of Microbuses and campers is so big, we figured we’d do you a solid and pick out some of the best examples we’ve seen. Whether you want to commit to #VanLife, hit up a festival in style, or go (road) trippin’, this is the way to do it.

1960 Microbus 23 Window Safari Deluxe

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What we like: The original Microbus engines were woefully underpowered, but the later ones were given a bump in displacement to make up for it. Fortunately, this owner replaced the original engine with the more powerful 1,600cc, so, you know, you can actually drive with a headwind and not stall out.
From the seller: “I rebuilt it not just to be beautiful to behold, but also to be used and enjoyed and not stuck in a collection. Thus I replaced the underpowered original engine with the bigger 1967 1,600cc engine, which can power up hills with ease — even when filled with friends.”

Mileage: 30,000 since restoration
Location: Laguna Beach, California

1966 Microbus 21 Window Samba

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What we like: It’s rare to see a Microbus in such spectacular shape. It came from a private collection and was restored to original condition. This might be the closest you’ll come to owning a time machine.
From the seller: “This 1966 Volkswagen 21 Window Samba is a frame-off restoration completed in 2011. Everything was restored exactly as the bus came from the factory — paint and bodywork were professionally done.”

Mileage: N/A
Location: Orlando, Florida

1970 Westfalia

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What we like: If you’re about to commit to the #VanLife then a Westfalia pop-top is the way to go. Constantly crouching in your kitchen/living room/master bedroom can take its toll — the pop-top gives you the freedom of standing up straight in your mobile domicile.
From the seller: “Condition is a 9+ (on a scale of 1-10). Full restoration and final inspection are always completed. Ninety percent or so of the original parts are refurbished and reused as opposed to replacing them with new but lesser quality aftermarket parts.”

Mileage: Restored
Location: Saint Augustine, Florida

1971 California High-Top

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What we like: This particular Microbus has seen some hard miles, but it looks to have seen an equal amount of love.
From the seller: “A beautiful, rare piece of Americana. This is a super solid California Hightop Adventurewagen Camper Bus. This bus runs perfect, drives/shifts/stops great.”

Mileage: 160,000
Location: Saginaw, Michigan

1974 Safare Camper

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What we like: The rare awning and tent options alone make this camper worth it, but the dinette, sink, two-burner stove are icing on the cake.
From the seller: “The bus is all-original with the exception of one repaint, new front seat upholstery, and new door panels. Rare factory A/C and factory working propane furnace.”

Mileage: 142,000
Location: Castle Rock, Washington