The Volkswagen Type 2 Split Screen is instantly recognisable thanks to its popularity during the counter culture movement of the ‘60s but it also served a more sober but vital role in transporting goods and cementing the social fabric of communities. As a forward-control cargo or people carrier, the design became ubiquitous due to its almost box-like packaging which along with its durability and parts availability has remained in the minds of the public.
Sold in a variety of formats, including panel vans, campers, flatbed trucks as well as minibuses, the versatile VW Type 2 lent itself to production outside of its native Germany. One of Volkswagens main producers was in South America, with this particular example being assembled in 1963 at the VW plant in São Paulo, Brazil. Traditionally, all Volkswagen Type 2s made in Brazil were named Kombis, irrelevant of body shape.
In many cases, vehicles built for local markets often deviate from the originals to suit the needs, climate or terrain of the area. One of the noticeable features on these Brazilian produced vans is the special roof vent just above the split screen windscreen to allow increased cabin ventilation. This version would originally have been fitted with the slight asthmatic 1.2-litre engine but has gained a few more horses since the installation of a 1.5-litre engine. As most VW air-cooled followers will know, engine originality in LHD imports is not such an important aspect when choosing a Type 2, but its performance and reliability are of more significance.
Unlike the German version of the VW Type 2, VW Brasil continued production of the Split Screen until 1975, outliving the original by 8 years. Useful to know if you see an LHD Split Screen van with a post-1967 registration plate.
This van started life as a nine-seater and may well have had a colourful life back in its home country. The VW has been with the current owner since the start of 2019, having been imported into the UK from Brazil in late 2017. All registration and license plate documents have been cleared and it is road legal for use in the UK. What followed was a complete overhaul of the van by its current owner, who chose this vehicle due to its solid base and suitability for a novel but sensible conversion.
As a nine-seater, the insurance was in a high premium group, qualifying as a mini-bus so the owner used this as a basis to re-evaluate and essentially redesign the van.
The interior has been completely refurbished and replaced with a new seating arrangement, along with a full-length fabric sunroof, kitted out with a fridge and entertainment system. The current owner and his former business partner have spent in the excess of 25K getting it up to this high level of specification, with a view to making the VW work for a living as a wedding vehicle. However, a change of plan exacerbated by the recent coronavirus pandemic, meant the business concept was never allowed to bloom. So, we present you with what can be described as the perfect picnic vehicle with a few bells and whistles.
As to be expected for a very recent import, there is scant evidence of its life in Brazil but the most import elements, such as the V5, MOT and import and initial registration documentation come with the van. The MOT is current to May 2021. It also comes with a variety of invoices pertaining to the electrical conversion, with several components offering their own warranty. The private registration plate also comes with the sale of the vehicle.
The interior is the main focus of this particular Volkswagen Split Screen van, offering a tastefully furnished solution which has been carried out to a high degree of thought and quality. The rear deck is laminated with wooden floor tiles with an additional 12V supply plug fitted. The rear deck also accommodates the Pioneer speakers. The ‘cargo’ area of the vehicle is decked with cream vinyl seating and complementary blue trim laid out in a social arrangement, finished off by decked wooden flooring. There is also a mini-fridge (Prosecco presumably free with the van?) and entertainment system. There is also an additional power source, with USB ports in the seated area too.
The cabin upfront is typically simple but also benefits from some tasteful additions that help elevate this VW above other examples, which include a useful voltmeter and oil pressure gauge housed on the central cooling duct. The engine start button is also a delightful modern extra that adds a little style to the cabin. The dashboard is standard fare, with a fuel gauge, MPH speedo and period radio, all in beautiful condition. The checker plate floor adds a useful durability dimension to the van, obviously fitted as a practical consideration. The interior fittings and catches are all functional and in good condition.
All the seats have been completely refitted and replaced with refurbished items, which suits the tasteful ambience of the van. No issues with sagging or age-related wear here. All forward-facing seats are fitted with seatbelts. As a precaution, there is also a fire extinguisher situated just behind the front seat in the spare tyre well.
The van is structurally in excellent condition, prior to the restoration the overall presentation of the van made it the ideal vehicle for the owner to use as a basis to improve on. Both back and front panels have been renewed or replaced, with a whole new cabin floor installed. There is no unsightly rust spots, just a few marks on hinges and door sills which are generally surface markings. The engine bay is structurally solid, with the same standard of condition running underneath the van. All the panels are straight with no major blemishes or marks. Wheel arches, inner wings and sills are all in solid condition. The paint finish is true and has excellent coverage with no signs of overspray or matting.
The van also comes with safari windows, which are a useful and attractive focal point to any Split Screen VW. The external fittings such as bumpers, chrome hub caps and trim are in good condition. The headlamps are new items, with the indicators and rear UK spec lamps showing minor signs of age but are fully functional. The additional front spot lights give the van a slightly more purposeful look.
The glass and door rubbers are in good condition, with no major splits or tears. The main glass areas are in good condition with minor age-related scratches but not enough to impede the view. Since the van was restored, it has been kept out of the elements in a dry environment.
The electronics have also been completely overhauled, with a generous provision to the rear occupant's entertainment. The charging management and inverter allow the use of the battery to power the fridge and entertainment system without the risk of affecting the main battery charge on the vehicle itself. Useful for those who might rely on gadgets while on a day trip. The vans general wiring, as a result of the 'precious cargo' have been overhauled. As a lovely piece of the final presentation, there is also a full-length canvas roof, which comes into its own on a summer day.
The oily stuff, including the running gear, is in solid condition and has yet to see proper road use since the restoration. The vehicle is standard ride height, which offers potential options to the new owner. The steering mechanism and exhaust as well as other underside components are in excellent condition too. The steel wheels are in reasonable condition, the brakes are all completely new, the surprisingly highly rated Nexen tyres are recent items and have plenty of life in them.
Typically for a vehicle approaching 60 years that has been subject to a major overhaul, one would not expect the original engine to be fitted. However, the 1,493 cc air-cooled engine is in excellent condition and has been reliable for its short test runs and starts up literally on the press of a button. The overall positive condition of the engine and its core components should testify its internal condition. There is also an automatic engine bay fire suppression system connected to the engine for peace of mind.
Circumstances being what they are at the moment has dashed a lot of good ideas and dreams. Having spent in the excess of 25K on visualising a potentially lucrative business venture, it was quashed by circumstances way beyond anyones control. As a result, we have a nicely restored Volkswagen Split Screen van with some unique and useful modern touches, all in a very stylish and iconic package. While its intended use as a vehicle to celebrate a happy event may not be realised (yet) it can easily provide the same element of joy as a day van, for the occasional picnic with friends and family.
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