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Making Over $441k The Type 2 Way At B-J's Las Vegas Sale

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On: Fri, Sep 30, 2011 at 2:37PM | By: Andrew W Davis

Making Over $441k The Type 2 Way At B-J's Las Vegas Sale

I’m what you’d call a station wagon guy, so I can’t really see why world-record-style prices are being showered upon just about every 1960s-vintage Volkswagen Type 2 that hits the auction block, whereas relatively little love—and money—is offered for any of my beloved wood-sided 1970s-style battlewagons.

Now I assumed that this phenomenon was limited to the "Holy Grail" of VW Buses, the “23-Window Samba”—one of which hammered sold at an eye-watering $217,800 at Barrett-Jackson’s Orange County auction in June—but that firm’s Las Vegas sale this very week showed otherwise.

Eight of these upper-end 1960s VeeDub Buses and Bus-based trucks were sold, including two 23-Windows. And while none surpassed the $110,000 sale price of a 21-Window Bus at this event last year—or other similarly-high-flying prices at various other auctions this year—they did pull down a respectable $441,100 in total.

Top seller—at $73,700—was Saturday’s Lot 662, a 1962 “23-Window Deluxe 9 Passenger Samba Bus.” In its “rare original color scheme of L53 sealing wax red with silver beige interior” it had been “detailed and rebuilt to the highest quality level possible.” Described as “award-winning” and “one of the coolest hippie buses around,” its mix of rare and original equipment and factory documentation—not to mention its sharp color scheme, especially with its whitewall tires—is enough to show even a jaded sort like me how cool these buses can be.

If you wanted to know what those two “extra” windows were worth—they refer to the windshield’s ability to open at the bottom to bring air into the cabin—you got your answer when Friday’s Lot 363 crossed the block and sold for $72,600 (or $1,100 less than Lot 662). This “1963 21 Window Custom Deluxe Bus,” too, is a reported award-winner, including a recent “1st place at Familienfest 17.” Said to be owned by the “same family for over 20 years” and the subject of a “no expense spared restoration,” it’s easy to see why they consider this as-new 21-Window to be “top of the food chain.” In “rare Onyx Black and ivory” with the sliding “ragtop” and “updated with 1,600cc engine” this sharp-looker should be as fun to drive as it is to look at.

We’re back to Saturday and a “23 Window Samba Bus,” although this lot—674.2—is a black and red 1961 model that sold for $62,700. Like the previous lot, this “California 23 window” was “recently restored and updated with features that make it a pleasure to drive.” In addition to the 1600cc engine, this Samba received “12-volt electronics,” a “rebuilt transmission” and “front disc brakes added for safety and bettering stopping.” And like the auction’s top seller, this Bus wears a coat of “Sealing Wax Red,” though its two-tone color is black instead of white. It’s also a bit more customized than accurately-restored, though many may prefer their Type 2s “lowered with the right California stance” like this one.

I suppose the purest combination of 662’s looks and 363’s window count is Lot 653, a 1965-model “21 Window Bus” that sold for $49,500. It, too, wore “its factory original two tone colors of Sealing Wax Red and Silver Beige” and was “restored to factory [Deluxe] specifications.” Though no awards were mentioned, it is noted that it is “visually striking,” “mechanically… in exceptional shape with a freshly tuned 1,600cc motor” and is “running and driving terrifically” with only “approximately 20 miles since completion.” Add the fact that “OEM factory parts [were] utilized as much as possible,” that “every piece of rubber trim on the vehicle was replaced with new,” and that it “comes with a large file of receipts and an original owner's manual” and you have everything you need for a decent deal on an excellent example.

Lot 655.1 is our first Bus-based variant, or a “1966 Type II Crew-Cab Bus” to be exact. This turquoise and white “rare, impeccably restored, loaded 1966 Volkswagen Crew Cab” has more custom and OEM features and parts than we have time to cover here, but its highlights include a “brand new 2100cc engine,” “all Volkswagen options,” a “rare Bekowa roof rack and side ladder,” a “crystal flower vase between working OEM safari windows,” and the “first tonneau cover created by Busware.” Thanks—in part—to that cover it’s versatile, too, as this “super cool truck has multiple looks: canvas full cover, tonneau back, or gates down as a utility vehicle.” With all its gear going for it and only 500 miles since its “complete restoration” that was “documented with bills and images,” I can honestly say that out of all the Type 2 options offered, this is the one I think should have sold for more than its $47,300 hammer price. An excellent buy.

We have another $1,100 price difference, only this time it was the difference between two "Double Cab Pickups." The day before Lot 655.1—the green-and-white charmer I just mentioned—sold, Lot 363.1, an all-red 1964 model sans any fancy top but with far more “custom” touches rang the register at $46,200. Its description sums it up as a “one-of-a-kind custom, very rare, lovingly restored, [with] extensive records [and] absolutely gorgeous in every way.” Equipment-wise it features a “completely rebuilt hi-performance 1500cc motor, [an] electrical system upgraded to 12-volts [and a] 4-speed Freeway Flyer transmission for great highway performance” plus custom “upgrades” that “make this little jewel stunning” including "chrome BRM wheels," latches and bumpers, and "diamond plate decking in bed." Only “2,300 miles” are said to have been put on this VW since its “superbly done astonishing restoration” and it still looks as-new in every way.

Like its name implies, Lot 352.1—a 1966 “Custom Bus”—is tricked out like 363.1 and goes way beyond just having 674.2’s “California stance.” In fact, in some ways—at least to my eyes—they went WAY beyond where they should’ve stopped by chrome-plating everything including both bumpers, the wheels and various engine bits (adding those stupid chrome “eyelids” over the headlamps didn't help either). But apart from the overdressed 2,100cc dual-carb motor, everything else can easily be “fixed” by the new owner if they choose. [Though its sale price of $45,100 shows at least two people liked it the way it was.] In addition to the “new everything” that comes with a “complete frame-off restoration” are some custom touches that are far less questionable than all that chrome, including a new “custom interior and custom air conditioning.” Put simply: “This bus drives like a new vehicle while still retaining the retro look of its era. This everyday driver is quick, comfortable and dependable.” Sounds good to me.

Last, but certainly not least, the most heavily customized VeeDub here is also the cheapest of the top Type 2s I’ve mentioned (though at $44k Lot 352.2 can’t be considered “cheap.”) This “Candy Violet over Red Metal Flake” 1961 “Crew Cab Double Cab Truck”—an “original double cab, not a chopped bus” in case you were wondering—is more custom than stock, including things like “high watage [sic] MTX amps” and “12 [inch] sub under back seat.” It’s also “on fast air bags and floats like a Cadillac” for whatever that’s worth. Apart from its questionable aesthetics there are a few serious stop signs in this vehicle’s description, including things like “the VW emblem is the only part of the paint job that needs to be redone” [so why didn’t they fix it pre-sale?] and “original truck gates have been restored and will be sold with the truck” [another definite pre-sale fix]. Well, if you were looking for an award-winning custom Type 2 truck it was here in all its purple-ish glory. But as par for this odd-duck’s questionable course, this trophy winner’s awards “do not go with truck.” The adage “you can’t build it for that” surely applies here, but, then again, would YOU really want to?

So there you go. With an average price of over $55k, it’s clear that there are enough people who now fondly “remember when” with these boxiest of Beetles but do so without remembering how slow, noisy and prone to tipping over they were.

Station wagons, on the other hand, do more, carry more, go faster, handle better and just plain look better. Some even came with muscle car-dom’s most powerful engines, each with more horsepower and torque than all of the VWs we just went through combined! C’mon, people! Where’s the love?...

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dwalter | 2:40PM (Fri, Sep 30, 2011)

those red/beige ones look sweet

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