VW bus

VW Bus - the Tiki bus
ER Classics Desktop 2022

The VW bus idea came from our own Ben Pon, who got his inspiration from a small vehicle made for internal company transport on a beetle basis. The Volkswagen Beetles were 'Type 1' for Volkswagen. So the vans based on the idea of ​​the enterprising Dutch VW importer Pon became 'Type 2'.

The bus also gave the Americans the idea of ​​making 'noseless' vans. At Chevrolet, they did that with the Corvair-based, Corvan most pronounced.

Chevrolet Corvan: American style

The VW Type 2 came in the course of time in the 'flavors' T1, T2 (a and b) and T3. In 1981 the T3 was also available with a water-cooled diesel engine and in 1982 the air-cooled gasoline engines were replaced by water-cooled gasoline engines.

The production of the T3 in Hanover, Germany, was discontinued in 1990, but the T3 was still produced in Graz, Austria, until 1992.

Type 2002 buses were made in South Africa until 3. The T2s were made at the end of 2013 at VW do Brasil.

Meanwhile, VW vans in all their versions - and there were quite a few - are sought after worldwide. While searching in the Netherlands and Europe became increasingly difficult because scarcity and demand drove up prices, entrepreneurial Dutch entrepreneurs first went to the United States and later to Brazil, South Africa and the Brazilian neighboring countries. There the supply was large and the prices still so low that it was economically justified to get the vans here and even to restore them. Because here in the Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia, the VW buses were completely 'hot'.

In practice, such a VW bus has its pros and cons

A clear 'front': the engine is in the back and therefore nice and far from the occupants. That saves noise. The disadvantage is that the engine is in the back and is therefore a hindrance when loading. The pickups were not bothered by that, but still.

The fact that the VW vans were made for work, and not for eternity, ensures that a dreaming bus buyer can come back from a very cold funfair today. The parts provision is almost exemplary and the parts are not expensive. Great right? Yes, except if you need a lot of parts and screams like dents and / or welds like mischievous sheet metal. Because then the hours count. And a lot goes wrong because there are no clear, written agreements between customer and service provider.

Also interesting: VW bus and Ford Transit ... van is coming soon

Restoration can become expensive

Because if the job is disappointing then the restoration of a VW bus can become a money-consuming monster. Dent removal, that's not the biggest problem. But VW buses can rust fantastic.

That's why rust checking is a very important thing when viewing, let's take a T2 bus.

Such a bus seems like a simple, decent workhorse. But we heard from someone that during the restoration of such a VW he had reached thirty mille. And with the powertrain, assume that a total overhaul is needed rather than a nice thing.

Also interesting: The legendary VW Bus sketch by Ben Pon

The Brazilian and other VW buses

Brazilians are made in an official VW factory, but do not necessarily follow European developments. Volkswagen had quality inspectors from Germany in Brazil.

But there are quite a few bus owners who find them objectionable because the "influx" of Brazilian asylum seekers would reduce the market value of the current bus stock. On the other hand: Brazilian (and other vans from faraway foreign countries) vans have often had a merciless life and have been kept running by all means. So never buy a VW bus unseen through an auction or the internet.

Maurice Bronke from Schagerbrug is genetically air-cooled VW enthusiast, collector, repairer and restorer. He saw food trucks on hits and he was surprised at the often miserable build quality. Because with the food trucks he had seen, the water ran not only from the tap, but also along the walls when it rained. He decided he could do better.

Also interesting: VW T3 buses, the next craze?

What the Tiki bus is now, has been adjusted and is doomed to a working life again. Because Maurice made the bus out of passion, but now that it is ready, the bus is actually a luxury problem.

So the idea is to rent the VW. As a food truck or as a DJ boat - pronounce: 'boeht' for disc jockeys with style.


From around 6.000 euros for a project to more than 75.000 euros. For amounts around 25.000 euros, a tidy, good and fair bus can be expected.

Rebuilding via the factory: you can. You deliver your bus to VW and a ton further you get it back new. In our country there is a box specialist who promises you the same for 'only' around 40.000 euros.

A reborn bus


Give a reaction
  1. I understand that some people like the VW bus, it looks nice of course. But actually the thing is not at all as good as one might expect from a van: engine and rear drive, well not very handy, because much less luggage space, poor access and poor handling. That it could be done much better, showed Citroën 10 years earlier with the 'Tub', the forerunner of the H-series and with that H, which also came out earlier. Renault followed Citroën with the Relay that also has 'everything in the front'. The Ford Transit is also a better car than the VW, with the engine in the front and indeed rear-wheel drive, that car offers more cargo space and a much better handling than that VW.

    The fact that the VW bus and beetle have become so popular has more to do with politics; whereas the other brands had the home market as a priority, VW was focused on export from the start. Because in themselves they are of course no better cars than their competitors at the time.

    • Dear Henk,
      I don't entirely agree with you.
      VW has built fantastic air-cooled cars in terms of design, technology and quality.
      Those cars are all beloved and sought-after classics, which often change hands for unbelievably high amounts.
      Every time I use old air-cooled (but also water-cooled) VW's I am pleasantly surprised about the quality of parts, fit and interchangeability of parts.
      I have been able to tinker with many other car brands in the past, but there the quality, interchangeability, fit and not to mention the quality of bolts and nuts were not comparable to VW.
      In addition, I have always remembered that if a car had had a really good ML treatment (Kooke in Assen for example), those cars simply do not rust even after decades. For some brands, however, it did not matter, but yes there were the welded bodies without any protection waiting for the next phase of construction.

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