Costa Rica Kombi Billboard

18 03 2017

My old friend and kombi correspondent Siggi has been traveling Costa Rica again and has sent these cool photos: A bay window bus serving as an advertising sign for the restaurant Patrón’s in Dominical, Costa Rica. Seems to be not unusual to re-use old buses as billboards over there in Costa Rica: check also this older post, also on a bus spotted by Siggi.

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Interesting how they got it in place up there. From the photo showing the underfloor, it seems there are two strong iron beams running the length of the car from the house to the front axle. They appear to carry the whole weight of the car and probably end in the column behind the bus. With a European eye, this VW bus looks very much like a T2ab, a hybrid between the early bay window buses (1967-1971, front indicators down, roundish bumper bars and front bumper extending into the step for the front doors) and the late bay window buses (1972-1979, front indicators higher up, rear lights bigger and more rectangular, and air intakes in the back not crescent-shaped anymore). Following this German Wikipedia entry, the T2ab hybrids (or, in German, “Zwitters”) were built between August 71 and July 1972. But the various VW bus generations manufactured by Volkswagen in Brazil and Mexico were built a lot longer (production of the T2 ended only in 2013).  And they mixed different parts from T1, T2a and T2b buses. So I am not sure at all how old this bus may be. Siggi organizes trips to Costa Rica – if you are interested, check out his web site. Thanks for the great photos, Siggi!





“My Kombi-Bus-Book”

28 02 2017

Here is a children’s book which wonder-daughter got as a present when she turned two (thanks, uncle Matti!). And which  we now re-discovered as her little sister is soon turning two: “Mein BulliBusBuch” (German for “My Kombi-Bus-Book”) by Birte Mueller, a beautifully illustrated short story of seven friends hoping on a bus one after another for a short road trip. The friends are all animals, so you can add the animal sounds when you read it to your child. The van is a split-window T1 bus (interestingly in a T2 color-combination, marino-yellow and creme white) where on each page one of the doors can be opened to look for the animals already inside. Just beautiful! There seems to be no English version yet when I checked on Amazon. The German version has the ISBN number 978-3-551-16840-5. Interestingly it also comes with the explicit approval of Volkswagen AG, probably to use the word “Bulli” in its title, for which Volkswagen owns the name (long story, check out this older blog post if interested).

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The T3 vanagon arrives in the ads!

26 02 2017

There is a new ad by the Dutch bank ING-DiBa which, for the first time, sports a T3 vanagon! The german line translates roughly into “car loan for people with their own mind”. So far split-window buses dominated ads and TV commercials for many products. Some years ago the T2 bay window buses appeared on the stage as well. Now it seems the T3 has also been recognized for its emerging coolness factor. Seeing that about 99% of the Berlin kombi club members are proud owners of T3s, I have also warmed up to them over the years. With the engine in the rear and the very early T3 buses still with air-cooled engines, they are certainly much closer to the splitties and bays than any of the later generations. In certain parts of “cool Berlin” you would see several T3 vans parking in every street, often as self-made campervan conversions. If only because the T2s are now so rare and expensive that the T3s have become the affordable entry ticket into VW-bus based campervans. Judiging from the high wheel houses, this one is probably a Syncro (4-wheel drive) and also not a factory-built campervan. The roof rack with canoe and ex-army aluminum boxes completes the “camper-credibility”. And it even does not hide the little problems that come with such old cars (rubber sealing at the sliding door is partly out of position). Nice!

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PS: In 2013 ING-DiBa had a TV commercial campaign staring a T1 split-window, along the lines of “Make your dream come true with a car loan. Get yourself a split-window bus.”, see also this older blog post. Below a screen shot and the link to the commercial on Youtube

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A Happy New Year, with a Finnish Canadian Beauty!

7 01 2017

Hope you all had a great start into 2017! Here comes a wonderful bus spotted during a ten-day-vacation in Finland in July 2016. We spent the first week on the southern coast near the small town of Porvoo.  Flying to Finland and taking a rental car turned out to be cheaper than doing the trip from Berlin with our kombi, and the two-day drive through Poland and the Baltic countries would have been unfair towards our one-year-old. So we cruised through Finland in a boring but comfortable Toyota Auris station wagon. I spotted the early bay window below in a driveway of a house on one of the trips around Porvoo. The owner kindly interrupted his dinner and came out for some kombi talk. It is a 1971 T2a which he imported from Canada some years ago. The campervan cionversion is all original Westfalia. The air inlets at the back (not crescent-shaped any more) and the larger rear lights show it is actually already one of the T2a/T2b hybrids which were built around 1971/72. The color is most likely Sierra yellow (VW color code L11H). Extra side indicators only in the back, not the front. Thought so far that models for the US had both – perhaps Canada was different. This beauty made my evening back in Finland. Hope you enjoy it, too!

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1969 US Westfalia Camper with an East German History

30 08 2016

 

Here is another beautiful van from the Berlin Bus Festival 2016. It is an early bay window (or T2a) Westfalia campervan from 1969. I learnt a bit about its history when I had a chat with the owner, a friendly elderly gentleman. The bus was originally built for the US market and also exported to the US. From the paper work he found in the bus, he thinks it was brought to Germany in 1972 by a student from the US who used it to tour Europe. It probably broke down in East Germany – I guess not necessarily a standard tourist destination for an American tourist in the seventies, as you had to apply for visas etc. to get behind the iron curtain. The bus then stayed in East Germany, changed hands three times in the seventies or early 80ies until in 1982 the current owner bought it in East Berlin. He said it was quite run down at that time and needed a lot of repair, which was hard work, with very limited access to spare parts from West Germany. Seven years later the wall came down, and another 27 years later he still owns the bus and proudly keeps it running. What an amazing history!

A couple of interesting details: A sticker in the driver’s door indicates the bus was once maintained by Herb’s Garage in Newark, Delaware, southwest of Philadelphia. The label on the electricity inlet is in English (and expects 110 V instead of 240V) and the speedometer is in MPH instead of km/h, but interestingly the reminder on the steering wheel attachment, below the speedo, is in German (“Fahren nur mit verriegelter Schiebetür” / “Drive only when sliding door is locked”). The original middlewave/MW radio is still in its place in the dashboard. A more useful FM radio is installed below the dashboard. Stick-on headrest for the driver – I actually remember those from a Lada when we were visiting friends in East Germany in the 1980ies! The back indicators looked unusual. Turns out they are made in GDR (label “DDR Ruhla”) and in fact are the front indicators of a late model Trabant, the prototypical East German car. The additional rear fog and reverse lights may also be of East German origin, then.

 

 





The Berlin VW Bus Festival 2016!

28 08 2016

We spent last weekend at this year’s Berlin VW Bus Festival, on an old airfield about 60 km south of Berlin. It was the first camping event for us this year, and also the first one as a family, with parents and now two children, in the small bus. We set up the big bus tent we bought last year and used it a bit as veranda, but mainly as a shed to put away all the kid’s related equipment. We had mixed weather with great sunshine and also some serious rain, but all doable when there is a dry tent and bus. Wonder-daughter enjoyed her very special bunk bed above the driver’s and passenger seats and discovered two routes to climb up to the roof rack – via the passenger door window and via the sliding door, using the Porta Potti box as base camp. Great to see her so happy and excited about the bus!

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With a one-year-old and a 4-year-old on board, we skipped the four-wheel-drive syncro trial on Saturday morning and instead took part in the kid’s program, bouncing castle and kombi painting. Turned into a whole-family event, with a beautiful hippie buy as our joint outcome:

Over the years the mix of buses at this meeting has slowly changed from almost exclusively T3 to now still mostly T3, but with large numbers of T4s and T5s thrown in the mix, while there was just a handful of late bay window buses and only one T1. So my slightly biased selection of fotos below shows basically all the air-cooled buses that attended.

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On the T3 end, again very many of the four-wheel-drive syncro buses, and many of them trimmed for serious all-terrain action. Here is a truely awesome one, from a visitor from the Netherlands:

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The Czeck Syncro club came with around 9 of these monsters. Very cool!

And there was something I haven’t seen before: A T4 syncro with a seroius all terrain attitude – cool!

We had a great weekend – thanks to the crew from the Berlin Kombi club for organizing such a great meeting! See you again next year!

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Amazing 1955 Splittie for Sale

20 08 2016

Very cool 1955 T1 split window bus for sale in the German Facebook group “VW Busfahrer T1 bis T6“. Thought I knew the photo. Turns out it is one of mine, from this older blog post. I had seen this brilliant bus 10 years ago at the 60-Years-Of-VW-Bus Festival in Hannover. If you are willing to part from > 30.000 British Pounds, this amazing bus could be yours! Below the original photo in all its beauty.

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