Curbside Classic 1965 VW Deluxe Micro Bus “Samba” – Tinnibus — Volkswagen Kombi Bus

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1965 vw bus deluxe walkthrough

Curbside Classic: 1965 VW Micro Bus “Samba” – Tinnibus

26, 2012

How many vehicles effected radical and lasting Not just in the automotive sphere, but the realms of society, politics, culture, comedy, philosophy; our very physiology? The VW Bus is such an of change, perhaps the most one since WW2. It’s a revolutionary vehicle that that concept, most of all the of inner space to outer.  A 169 hybrid of egg, box and windows an ability to comfortably and economically eight adults; an impressive by any measure, yet just the start of its capabilities.  Perhaps it should been called the VW Transformer.

And the version of the VW Bus is the most transformative of the So if seven of you want to hop aboard, open that giant take you for a ride, and tell you how came to be. It’s going to be and a bit noisy, as any ride in an old VW bus inevitably is. you be transformed? Well, if not, at the views will be good.

attract (me). Nature balance. And variety is the spice of food, and … (unless, you’re from the Midwest). the VW Deluxe Micro Bus (“Samba”) have been my second Classic ever, as the polar and balance to the first, a 1972 Coupe DeVille. The two are truly the and yang of the automotive universe. And I them both.

I knew which VW bus I wanted to write up: a white-over-green Samba piloted by a young dad, usually a gaggle of sun-splashed kids and friends. For years, it danced through our neighborhood to its distinctive of frantic shifts and blower

But then it disappeared, just I needed it. There’s been a ever since, and my nature that. Yes, there are of old VW buses around (some it the official vehicle of Eugene), But not any old bus do. The Samba is a towering icon and a key role in my life; so yes, it has to be a Curbside Classic: real, and used for its intended purpose of people.

Three-and-a-half years it’s finally arrived. on board?

The VW Type 2 story is but its origins are surprisingly brief. is the very sketch that birth to the VW Bus, as drawn by auto dealer Ben Pon, who was in buying some early to import to the Netherlands.

During a 1947 visit to VW factory (under the control of Occupational Forces at the time), Pon saw an parts mover cobbled from Beetle parts. The bulb went off, and the is history. The lesson: keep a handy; like Pon, you find yourself designing, in 60 one of the most famous vehicles

In 1949, the first prototype was but not on the Beetle’s platform as Pon first Because that platform up to the task,  the Type 2 is of construction with integrated frame rails; however, it the Beetle’s wheelbase and is a mere inches longer overall.

In for it to haul a useful load its 25 hp, 1133 cc Beetle engine, it was with the reduction gears on the ends from the military 181 Kübelwagen. These were a blessing, since they unsprung weight, noise and while increasing the center of

And since the driving axle in reverse (corrected in the reduction the Bus is famous for its tendency to tuck its under and jack up its rear end on the opposite of most cars. quite noticeable in first but you have to really be looking to see it in never mind the higher

In this chapter of the Type 2 we’re going to stick to the Samba, a name whose are not known to me (or to Google). It wasn’t back in the day either, but the name has It refers to the Deluxe version of the (later called Deluxe Wagon in the US) that was the beneficiary of well-applied Sawzalls, or whatever workers used to cut all those holes in a VW Kombi. And it was specifically for tourist transport in the Alpine

Supposedly the first Samba was in 1950, but the earliest brochures from 1951. Famous for its 23 and giant sunroof, the Samba filled a need for a compact, and efficient micro-bus. Never had there been such a The VW bus was a truly revolutionary design, more so than the Beetle, was derivative if not downright imitative.

up in the heart of the Alpine region during the fifties, the Samba was a childhood sight, as swarms of ferried German, British and tourists to various sights. And all of them seemed to have black-over-red paint scheme, my Father called “burnt soup.” The white-over-red scheme replaced it in 1959 became cream soup” in his parlance.  a smorgasbord of both soup on Grossglockner, Austria’s highest-pass And how did they ever make it up with eight (or more) on board?

Slowly, of course. The German for the Type 2 is “Bulli.” Even the 25 hp (30 gross) buses were in their lower gears at according to this 1951 depicting the climbing ability of a Bus. 23% is steep, and with the 30 hp (36 motor that came a few years later, that gear climbing ability up to 24.5%. Fourth gear have best been off here, as 3.5% is laughable, as is the 80 kmh top (49 mph). But in 1951 Europe, it was a reasonable speed for a bus or truck.

In the fifties, our family took vacations in the tiny Tirolean hamlet of Ladis. Being a car, my father arranged to the University Hospital’s VW Kombi us there. Here I am, posing in of it during our 1959 trip its driver, Herr Birkelbauer, on a stop along the way. obviously discussing the finer of Type 2s. That Kombi is a “barn door”, identifiable by the of the distinctive front roof on later models.

One morning, in of our usual hike we walked to the Ladis Hotel, in front of sat a “burnt tomato soup” There, we and a few other tourists up to take a one day excursion over passes to St. Moritz in Switzerland, and I was very excited indeed finally having my first in a Samba on my first trip to a land. According to Google the most direct route is 108 km, and 1 hr 43 minutes. I can assure you that it us significantly longer than

In my perfect memory, there eight adults and several on that trip. I soon out of my mother’s lap and hopped into the area over the engine, was mostly empty on this day I can still see the scenery, moving by so slowly, practically counting wildflower and cobblestone on the steepest

We eventually got to St. Moritz, where I saw a of ritzy cars I’d never see in poor old Austria. Scenery

Now, the Samba wasn’t only in the Alps. As the best-trimmed VW it also served in a variety of roles, including ferrying to this PAA airliner (bonus for identifying it). The point is, in nobody bought a Samba for transportation; it was a small commercial A plumber might buy a Kombi if he afford a real car for the family, but in the US, the institutional role wouldn’t so readily.

Here’s an American-market Samba in It was the most radical thing on roads since Buckminster’s or the Scarab. defying every Check out those giant bumper over-riders: VW bumper on Beetles and buses were specifically for the US export market; to do with Americans’ parallel technique, I assume. Or just a to American car bumpers in the Dagmar

Yes, some VW buses sold to institutions in the US (our in Iowa City had one), but tended to be the non-Samba variety. So had to market it differently: “full of full of fun Station Wagon.” So the wood-grain planking on the side?


The of the ads changed when VW’s ad was switched to Doyle Dane which rightfully addressed the of selling the Samba to the better typically, men bought into the VW bus idea much more And now, women all want to a tall, three-row CUV.

The DDB ads to break through the “odd” the bus had; in the end, it only it. Let’s say that these more common in University families than in those of heartland hamlets. Or with attending an opening of “Hamlet”.

But the VW bus up having a huge impact: The Big soon countered with own 1960 compact vans.

The VW “odd” image soon the most potent wheeled of the counter culture. And although a few became “hippie buses”, weren’t particularly preferred: all, it had too many windows to with Indian batik. I do remember at least one unforgettable in a Samba through the California looking up at the towering giants the immense sunroof. Ben Pon, you are a to a whole generation!

Let’s not get in that era, or I’ll come back. Remember that in the I told you about the Samba driver that disappeared as I started shooting Curbside in 2009? I assumed that the owner had cashed in, given the in Samba prices (a 1963 Samba sold at auction for a year ago). A bit over the top, but it does show the public draw this has become. Indeed, they make them like anymore.

Actually, they stopped the 23-window bus after the 1963 MY. The got a larger rear hatch and which eliminated the characteristic beloved) corner windows, them “21-window Sambas.” makes the 23-window Samba more desirable, as well as And of course, Sambas disappeared with the new T2 generation of 1968.

1965 vw bus deluxe walkthrough

The night, after a quick at the Laughing Planet, I saw this new of Eugene’s extensive VW bus family–and I made it out to be anything but a restored As I was shooting it, up walked Rich, the and his teenage daughter. Incredibly, he had the owner of that very that used to ply our neighborhood. loved that bus, met its demise in a minor accident by (very slowly) after a on black ice. Rich, who was alone, was unhurt. He said it as if in slow motion…”will it flip, or it?” Yes, it will.

a spine permanently curved all those years spent over his bus’s wheel, found that he couldn’t be driving anything else. he found this Samba away in someone’s yard), but after looking for a long sadly, there just a lot of them sitting around And yes, he’s thrilled to be it again. What’s more, his also has the bus fever, although Mom too wild about that. a DDB ad should have asked, “Do you the right kind of mom for it?”

it’s a work in progress, but one can get just about anything for a Currently, there’s a steady in reproduction parts, but will dry up when the last Samba has restored?

Rich’s bus is a “walk with individual front Although some utility had walk-through front seats back to the mid-fifties, that feature appears to show up in the around 1959. Combined a two-passenger middle seat, it made interior access should the need arise to a diaper or mop up vomit on the go. One magazine even suggested that might have an easier getting into the front of a bus (modestly) via the rear side and through the walk-through.

Rich’s component is the top-line, period-correct “Köln” multi-band radio automatic signal seeking. It $180 new ($1200 adjusted); not much more than an motor. The rule of thumb then was 60k miles on a new factory 40 – 50k on a factory rebuild, and 5k miles on one on the kitchen table by compleat If that long.

In its little cubby out back, a well-built “stock” 1600cc that Rich picked up a fellow Volkswagonista. Originally, it have held a 1500cc (optionally available in Europe in 1963, but immediately standard for US Its 50 hp (44 hp net) did give the bus a solid 65 mph top end speed – on level ground, and a headwind. That was a significant over the 1200 cc motors.

But laugh: A 1960 Car Life of a VW bus with the new Corvair Greenbrier and had the 40 hp bus almost identically fast the quarter mile as the 80 hp Corvair its two-speed Powerglide. The fully-synchronized, VW transmission kept the little humming at full boil.

I about that. I learned to a stick shift (car, not on a 1965 VW bus, on the grounds of the School for the Blind, when I was This was shortly after my illicit drives in the family ’65 Coronet. and I was eager to graduate to a bit less automatic. An obliging new teacher at Loyola, straight out of was the medium. He drove the most VW bus ever: It was a regular white-over-green job, but with a giant air conditioner on top of the roof at the very fitted under a nicely panel, making it look for all the like an old city bus. never seen one since, and neither has Google.

Anyway, it wouldn’t start for him after so I fiddled with the carb it wide open because he it) to get it going. One evening he was driving of us to the Maryland School for the Blind to our allotment of community service. time: that evening, my contribution was to not hit any of the blind students the campus roads with sticks as I mastered the VW’s

Pretty soon, I was the new designated of the so-called “Smokemobile”, into a number of us would pile in to indulge our nicotine habit as we rode through the around Loyola between As the bus labored up Chestnut Avenue, of smoke poured from the windows.

I ended up driving bus on all sorts of trips, including a ski up to the mountains of Pennsylvania, in fresh no less. Nothing like a fifteen-year-old brain to rapidly the various dynamics involved in a loaded bus through snow-covered back roads. Teach ‘em even before they get a

Mysteriously, the facilitating teacher’s at Loyola was cut short after about four months. coincided with the Smokemobile’s blowing up in a cloud of, well, But by then my tuition at Loyola had off, and I was a Type 2 ace. One: The gas pedal is essentially an switch; all or nothing. Rule You shift up when the motor level stops increasing. Three: No hard braking in Rule Four: Don’t get

From my earliest childhood the Samba instilled in me a deep to take folks for a ride in a to show them new sights and memorable experiences. Whether were my fellow ninth-grade and skiers, my passengers on a city my girlfriend in my Dodge van. my in the back of our Caravan, or perhaps you, through the ramblings on page; it is what I was (and am) to do. I’m happiest hunched over the of  of a bus, box or keyboard.

The VW bus is a vehicle of both inner and outer. It has dreams of every sort. And nightmares. Thanks to its weaknesses, we are Or at least wiser.

Our little is over, and we’re back to we started. Well, not really, we’re never quite the after a real trip, one has pushed the boundaries at least a wee And a ride in a Samba will do that, one way or another. It may not be life-changing for but it was for me.

After that memorable slow trip over the passes as a child, I heard the of the Samba’s engine, fan, and reduction gears in my head as I to bed that night. And in one of life’s symmetries, it’s all come to me: my ears are hearing the Samba’s horse engine conquering pass once again 24/7. I’m told it’s the of tinnitus, but I prefer to call it

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