1963 Volkswagen split window twin barn door camper

Price: - Item location: Alexandria, Virginia, United States
  • Make: Volkswagen
  • Model: Bus/Vanagon
  • Type: Van Camper
  • Year: 1963
  • Mileage: 8,031
  • VIN: 21982019
  • Color: white / green
  • Engine size: 1500
  • Number of cylinders: 4
  • Fuel: Gasoline
  • Transmission: Manual
  • Drive type: RWD
  • Interior color: green
  • Drive side: Left-hand drive
  • Vehicle Title: Clear
  • Want to buy? Contact seller!

1963 Volkswagen Bus/Vanagon

This faded old bus was the subject of the 2013 book ‘Hippie Van’. The book tells the story of how this actual bus was part of a 1972 Washington D.C. government lawsuit titled “United States of America vs. ONE 1963 VOLKSWAGEN CAMPER”. We were never able to find out what became of the original owner, or exactly what trouble he was in. Never the less, the book originated with what could be found out about the history. An outcome of the lawsuit was the bus was sold at auction, and purchased in 1972 by the owner of a large automobile upholstery business and warehouse in downtown Northwest Washington DC. He took the bus from the auction to his warehouse, which had an elevator big enough for cars, and it went to an upper floor where it sat undisturbed for 17 years. When the building was ultimately sold in 1989, everything had to be cleared out of the four story warehouse in a week. It was stuffed full of original upholstery materials including rare mohair and wool fabrics for motorcars, of which much ended up going to the dump. A local Volkswagen enthusiast named Jerry heard there were some VW parts in the building, went to see what he could find, and spied this bus on an upper floor. He was immediately smitten, and became it's third owner. Over the years, he put it to good use, camping in many national parks around the U.S. Jerry owned it for 24 years, as part of a small collection of Volkswagens, and then passed it on the current owner in 2013. That 4th (and current) owner, fascinated with the history and documentation, researched and wrote the book ‘Hippie Van’, which includes photos of and incorporated the history of the bus. The book, available on Amazon in print and ebook form, tells how the bus was originally delivered in the U.S., and was converted when new to a camper, by the camper conversion company Sundial. The book then follows the original owner across the country to Washington D.C., and into a story of mystery and intrique.

Included in the sale is the certification document from Volkswagen which verifies the bus is the rare twin barn door model. Also included is the original government auction document from 1972. The purchaser will also receive the two surfboards, the luggage on the correct roof rack, a colorful tent made for VW buses, the tent poles and hardware, two vintage sleeping cots, and a large water canteen.

The camper is equipped with a refrigerator, a sink, a couch which converts to a bed, an eating table which folds out of the way, tables which prop up on the doors, curtains, and lots of storage in the built-in closets. The current owner has kept the car for four years in climate controlled storage and used the vehicle very little, and never checked the operation of items such as the sink, refrigerator or electrical outlets.

Included are extensive service records covering 1990's restoration work which was contracted by the third owner, and numerous maintenance invoices. According to the previous owner, “The rebuilt engine (number 558688) was upgraded to 1500 cc from the original 1200 cc to provide better driving on highways. All else remained original. Brake system all redone.” It has a new battery. It's no show car, but it's solid and has lots of character and patina.

It runs and drives good, and feels tight going down the road. The transmission synchros are good. The car comes with owners and technical manuals and a variety of spare parts which are mainly items that might wear out or break, and are hardest to find when repairs are needed. Extra parts include a new master cylinder, muffler tail pipe, resonator, a radio, clutch cable, accelerator cable, carburetor governor, original air oil bath cleaner, VW logo hubcaps, distributor cap set, Solex Pict carburetor, and a pair of Hella headlights.

To see a video with close-ups of the body and trim, the bus being driven, the tent and extra parts, and the large volume of service records and documentation:

click for video

It's now being offered for auction with no reserve price, the highest bid takes it. Although this sale will include 3 copies of the book for the new owner, the rights to the book will remain with the author.