• Just one former keeper in California and two in Jersey – outstanding history file
• Tastefully restored body to original specs and impeccable standards
The allure and mystique of the VW Type 2 is an age-old constant in the classic motoring scene. If you’ve never owned or driven one, you almost certainly know someone who does or has, and given how many of these versatile vehicles were produced over the decades, the survivors cover a broad spectrum of tastes and approaches – as well as levels of quality.
The Type 2 (which can be variously known as the Kombi, Transporter, Microbus and assorted other names depending on spec and setup) was introduced in 1950, ultimately spawning a comprehensive array of variants: campervans, panel vans, ambulances, pickup trucks, high-tops, fire engines, all sorts. The first generation of splitscreens was superseded in 1967 by the heavily revised bay window Kombi, which stayed in production until 1979 in Europe and the US.
The nickname speaks for itself – the broad window at the business end provides a commanding panoramic vista, and this unit-shifting van has become a legend. While some collectors chase splitscreens, it’s the bay window that represents the truly usable classic camping genre.
Available over the years with rear-mounted and air-cooled boxer engines of various displacements, the format was unmistakably VW – and with a Westfalia conversion, they make for astonishingly versatile campervans.
The crux of campervan life is the spirit of adventure, and this bay window has certainly had a few of those. A genuine Westfalia camper conversion, it was delivered new to its first owner in the city of Gardena, California in early 1973. (The build plate riveted to the front wing shows that it was built in 1971, for the 1972 model year; the VIN number corroborates this, as the third digit denotes the model year and in this case it’s a ‘2’.)
There’s evidence of it living in Gardena up to the late 1990s and most likely beyond – the paper-trail suggests that the same owner kept it from 1973 until 2008, when an importer in Swansea brought the VW into the UK. It was a little down-at-heel by then, but its new owner – based in Jersey – commissioned a full restoration, which was completed in 2013.
This involved a strip-down and repaint, but crucially all of the important original elements remain – it still has its factory single-port 1600cc engine, as well as all the period camping units (cupboards, fridge, sink and so forth) fitted by Westfalia. This, then, is a very rare opportunity to purchase a Type 2 that’s both beautifully restored and original where it counts. With one owner in the States and two in Jersey, it’s a low-owners time-capsule – beautifully preserved and refreshed, and eminently usable as a fully-functional campervan today.
(n.b. It’s important to note that the Volkswagen is still registered in Jersey – the camper is now located in London, but the buyer will need to be aware of any applicable duties to be paid on registering with the DVLA.)
There’s a huge file of paperwork with this Kombi, detailing its history with a deep level of reassurance. Incredibly, the original service book is here with stamps from the early 1970s in California – we can see that the pre-delivery inspection was carried out by Gardena’s Gabriel-Olsen dealership in early 1973, and this supplying dealer continued to maintain it until the 12,000-mile service. There are a variety of US title documents as well, the earliest being from July 1973 and the latest from August 1997.
Moving to its life in Jersey, we find full photographic evidence of the restoration that was carried out, and comprehensive hand-written documentation of all of the servicing and maintenance completed since then – all itemised by mileage and cost.
There’s a huge amount of receipts and invoices for parts purchased and work carried out, and we also find a valuation certificate dated September 2016, at which time the VW was valued at £27,500. (An earlier valuation in 2013 placed it at £22,500, so you can see the value trajectory here.)
The cabin of this Baywindow is absolutely superb. The original Westfalia appointments are all fitted, which is a very rare thing to find, and it’s all been sympathetically restored to get it shining like a new pin as well as all being functional.
The conversion includes a wide variety of cupboards and cubbyholes, all of which have handles that pop open and re-secure as they should. The fridge and sink are in place, along with the fold-out side table for when the side door is open; there’s also a removable dining table and stool as well as the seating and rear bench that converts into a double bed.
The seats front and rear are all beautifully trimmed in leather which is in excellent condition, with the door cards trimmed to match. The VW also benefits from a pop-up roof, which is very easy to operate, extremely clean, and provides a welcome bit of extra headroom.
The front carpets and rear floor are all nice and fresh, and the headlining is a tidy piece of boarding. There are curtains fitted throughout which tastefully complement the colour scheme as well as providing that all-important privacy after dark.
Up front, a modern CD/radio head unit is fitted, along with 6x9 speakers in the footwells. The dash is tidy and free from cracks or damage, and the dials all work as they should. A very beautifully presented Westfalia throughout.
The exterior is just as pretty as the interior, with a huge amount of time and effort clearly spent on ensuring that the presentation is of show-quality as well as maintaining as much originality as possible.
The restoration work to the shell has been done to an excellent standard, with every panel being straight, solid, free from ripples or dings, and all hanging straight with even gaps. The doors open and close freely and securely, and the pop-up roof is very simple to operate. The restorer was careful to keep the original plaques riveted to the front wing – one with the Westfalia build numbers, and the other with the original State of California reference numbers.
The window rubbers are all good, as are the light lenses and window glass, and all of the correct trim and badging is in place. There’s a little patination to the chrome on the headlight surrounds, and a small amount of corrosion in the rear bumper, but these are very minor points and on the whole it’s a glorious thing to behold.
The wheels wear their correct chrome hubcaps as well as matching tyres with plenty of tread. And as you can see from the photos of the underside, it’s a remarkably straight and corrosion-free example underneath as well. That’s the key benefit of importing a classic car from a dry state!
The most important aspect of this VW’s mechanical package, and something very rarely found in vehicles such as this, is that it’s a matching-numbers vehicle with its original single-port 1600 flat-four engine. You can see from the photos how carefully it’s been curated too, as it’s squeaky clean with refreshed ancillaries within that pristine engine bay, and it really does run like a dream.
The motor fires up straight away without issue and settles into an even idle; it pulls through the revs with the surety you’d expect and, while these gearboxes have a characteristically long throw, the ratios slot cleanly once you’ve got the knack. The brakes are strong and pull up straight, and the suspension is all in good order – necessarily soft, but that’s just how it should be, and it absorbs speed bumps and potholes with aplomb.
The unassisted steering requires an armful or two, but that’s just another characteristic facet of Type 2 life and it’s all part of the experience. This is a mechanically superb camper that’s ready to enjoy.
A bay-window campervan isn’t just a vehicle, it’s a portal to another age.
This is no mere functional machine, but something which will undoubtedly become a beloved member of the family as the relationship grows and more and more adventures are undertaken. And you really would struggle to find a better example than this on the market today: first of all, there’s the outstanding history – just one former owner in California and two in Jersey, and the vital evidence of that heritage has been maintained.
Secondly, there’s the outstanding quality of the restoration and presentation – this really is a very tidy and attractive bus. And thirdly – and perhaps most importantly – is the utility as a campervan: all of the period-original Westfalia equipment is here, just as it was in the early 1970s and refreshed for continued use today. Truly, this is all exactly what you want in a Type 2 campervan. We expect the interest in this auction to be very strong indeed.
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