Everyone loves the Volkswagen Bus, from a surfing vehicle, to family hauler, to weekend camper they really are one of history's coolest vehicles. One of the few vehicles that can sleep a couple adults and park in a standard parking spot. These vans are known worldwide for capturing the feeling of California lifestyle by the beach. This model is a Westfalia camper non-pop top, known as a 'Tin Top' Camper by enthusiasts it has the look of a standard bus without the complexity of the pop up roof - a stealth camper. These campers have a fold down rear bed that sleeps 2 and a child cot over the front seats means a family of 3 could all sleep in the same space. Other camping equipment includes a sink & cooler cabinet, 2 fold out tables, spice rack cabinet, jalousie side windows for ventilation with screens to keep out bugs, large wardrobe cabinet in the rear and plenty of storage.
This is a 1971 model, the most sought after of all the Bay Window Buses from 1968-1979. The 1971 mixes the older classic look with technological improvements needed for drivability and has a large amount of 1 year only features. 1971 was the last year for the Type 1 1600cc engine and it had all the improvements such as dual port cylinder heads and 'dog house' oil cooling but they are also the easiest of all the Volkswagen engines to work on and find parts for. Along with the improved power of the engine 1971 was the first year of power front disc brakes which drastically improved the stopping power of a heavy Bus. If you have driven a 1970 and older bus then you know how hard they are to stop with drum brakes. Style wise the 1971 retained the low front turn blinkers, small taillights and curved bumpers of the early Buses. In California a further bonus of this year is that it is emissions testing exempt.
Story - Dave, the owner of this bus, acquired it on 1994 as his first car when he was 18. He is the 3rd owner although the second owner only had it for a few months, second owner is still good friends with Dave. Sold new in San Diego California at San Diego Motor Imports. It was just another neat Bus back then in the 90s, used as a daily driver for a while, it was worn out so it was eventually taken off the road. In 2010 Dave decided it was time to restore his Bus, but what direction? Should it be customized to his personal taste which is rather easy but usually not done in good taste. Or should he restore to original condition with a few improvements? The route less traveled on VWs is a restoration better than factory standards and as you can see by the result Dave made the right choice in the direction he went. You can't go wrong with original as it will never be out of style. The goal was an original appearing restoration using as many original or high quality parts as possible, avoid reproduction parts, add technological improvements that help reliability and assist in keeping pace with modern traffic. The thought of a budget was thrown out the door, the build would be to a particular result regardless of the cost. Dave wanted to build the perfect Bus, it took longer than he thought, but we think he achieved his goals. Now it is up for sale because Dave likes the restoration journey more than ownership. The sale will also fund his next venture.
Restoration - Restoration gallery shown further down the page. The foundation of high a quality restoration is the paintwork. Paint on this Bus was done by Jimmy Braxmeyer of Vintage VW Restoration in Vista California, Jimmy has been winning best of show awards since the 1990s on the Buses he restores. The entire body was stripped to bare metal making a perfect foundation for a top quality paint job. The Bus was painted inside and out, in the engine compartment, wheel wells, and entire underside. VW never put this much paint on them when they were built. As you can see in the pictures the paint is outstanding. Do not confuse this with other Buses, painting an entire Bus is difficult because they are huge and there are many areas to bodywork and paint. A paint job like this takes years to do, the cost was over $30,000 for paintwork alone.
Engine - The original powertrain design was ok for 1970s traffic, with todays style driving and modern cars these Buses require more acceleration, better hill climbing ability and higher freeway cruising speeds. The type 1 engine is one of the most modified engines in the world, the right builder and setup was used it increase the torque so that it now keeps up with modern traffic and pulls hills but still looks like an original engine bay. Larger displacement 2074cc using a 78mm stroke 92mm pistons (machine in type), electronic engine management system - that can be viewed on laptop or phone, major lubrication and oil cooling upgrades - will never overheat - even in Death Valley. Stock heater boxes with stainless steel Ahnendorp exhaust. Transmission was rebuilt and has freeway flier gears that in combination with the added horsepower allows this Bus to easily pull hills and run 75mph on the highway - keeping up with modern traffic was the goal. With this Bus you can drive up mountains in 4th gear without downshifts - stock buses go 55-60MPH max on flat surfaces and they don't pull hills without constant downshifts. This engine completely changes the driving characteristics and makes driving much more enjoyable now that you are not holding up traffic. Cost of the engine build alone was over $10,000.
Interior - Restored to original. Cabinets refinished using African mahogany with Baltic Birch side and roof paneling, the cabinet laminate was completely replaced with the correct type. An incredible amount sound reduction and insulation was placed throughout. The icebox for this model was not available new so a new fiberglass reproduction mold was made just for this Bus, the reproduction looks like a Westy part. Sink has been polished and great effort was put into restoring the original hand pump water facet. New curtains in the original pattern cover all windows including front windshield - for privacy while camping. Everything inside is new and it smells like a new car but you feel like you are in the 1970s. In the cockpit the seats restored with original vinyl, new rubber mats and seals, the dash was restored by Just Dashes. Seat belts were also painstakingly restored with all new webbing and even new silk date labels.
Undercarriage - Please see the pictures before understanding the underside. The undercarriage is where all the equipment goes that makes the Bus drive well or drive terrible. The rebuilding and refinishing of every part means a perfect driving vehicle with tight steering (most of these 40yr old + machines have wobbly steering if not fully restored). Power disc brakes means excellent stopping power. There is even a solenoid controlled fuel system cut off system to prevent fire in case of accident. The amount of paint and material put on the bottom will prevent rust and corrosion from ever happening. No one restored the underside like this do they?
Exterior & Trim - All exterior parts are new or refinished, genuine Hella lights and lenses used throughout. LED headlights. All new glass throughout! New jalousie camper window assemblies. All handles rechromed. Bumpers and bumperettes are flawless. Wheels restored with new weight rated tires. It took some time to find the right rubber seals that fit and work properly - many of the reproduction seals are very poor. You can always add a roof rack for that cool safari look or to carry more stuff on a trip.
Regarding the price - we have over $90,000 in receipts for the parts and work done, yes we have all the records, this does not include the owner's labor assembling the entire Bus. We realize this price is uncharted territory however you should also understand that there are no comparable Buses that are restored this nice, this is a one off Bus. Please scroll down to see hundreds of pictures.
No fiberglass pop top makes for a simpler quieter stealth appearing camper.
78mm stroke with 92mm pistons makes a 2074cc displacement. Numerous power improvements, electronic engine management, reliability upgrades.
Bare metal paint job done by multiple show winner and VW Bus Specialist Jimmy Braxmeyer.
Authentic interior refinished to a better than new standard.
The pictures speak for themselves. Have you ever seen a Bus undercarriage that looks like this!
Surf Bus, nomad camper, see the country in style, or attend VW shows around the country. You can use this Bus or keep it in your garage as a weekend show vehicle.
Volkswagen Bus tour and running
Restored methodically over a 10 year period of time. The owner carefully chose who would work on it and what parts would be used. Being his first car he was attached so much of this work goes farther in scope than a paid restoration shop would do. A selection of the best classic Volkswagen minds came together to create what you are looking at. Make no mistake there is no comparable restoration like this anywhere, this is a true passion project.
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