The price of an immaculate 23-window Volkswagen Microbus has shot up dramatically over the last few years, with perfect examples now going for $200 000 (R2.8 million).
There’s a lot to like about the VW Microbus. First built in 1950, the little Volkswagen bus was quirky, spacious and practical. And when the era of flower power dawned in the early 1960s, the Microbus became a chief emblem of the movement. Even today, many people refer to the vehicle as the ‘Hippie Van’. But the VW bus outlived the hippie movement. Technically speaking, a new version of the van is being built today (Volkswagen launched the T6 in 2015). Also, early versions of the vehicle were still in production until relatively recently. In South Africa, the T3 (first released in 1979) was produced until 2002, despite the fact that global production had ceased in 1992. In Brazil, the old-school T2 was produced until December 2013, when safety regulations finally made it obsolete.
Thanks to the long and storied history of the Microbus, many people have fond memories of the vehicle – memories of family holidays, varsity road trips and seaside vacations – and it would seem as if all this nostalgia is having a significant impact on the value of a T1 or T2. How else would one explain the fact that a couple of 1963 23-window Deluxe models recently sold for a staggering $200 000 (R2.8 million)? International auction houses now place an estimated value of $150 000–$225 000 (R2.1 to R3.1 million) on a great example. Is an old VW microbus worth R3 million? Hard as it may be to believe, the answer seems to be yes. As always, the free market decides what something is worth.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that the 23-window Deluxe (also known as the Samba) version is rather special. Only the T1, produced from the early ‘50s to the late 1960s, boasted a Samba version. Though similar to other VW vans, the Deluxe had two pivot doors on the side, instead of a normal sliding door. It also had a bunch of windows on the roof, as well as a fabric sunroof. Early models had 23 windows in total, while later versions had 21 (two at the rear corners were removed during later production).
Mechanically, the Deluxe is identical to other T1 buses of the time. For 1963, Volkswagen fitted the vehicle with a 1.5-litre engine that delivered around 40kW at 4 200r/min. The valuable version featured here boasts the standard engine, of course, and it looks as pristine as the day it was first fitted. In fact, the entire vehicle looks as if it rolled off an assembly line yesterday. For R3 million, you wouldn’t expect anything less.
1963 VW Microbus Deluxe
Model Deluxe Bus
Engine 1.5-litre petrol
Power 40kW @ 4 300r/min
Original price $2 665 (R37 500)
Current price Around $200 000 (R2.8 million)