Type 2 Kombi £24,999. This straight, dry-state import with a vigorous 2.0-litre engine makes a lot of sense, says Nigel Boothman.
Volkswagen’s ever-popular #Volkswagen-Type-2
is one of the few classics recognisable even to those with zero interest in old cars. In split-screen form, like this, they are now the most valuable of all air-cooled Volkswagens with the exception of the earliest Beetles. This one began life as an American export Kombi; a windowed mixture of passenger and cargo vehicle. It was imported to the UK a few years ago and restored as a camper or, more accurately, day van - there is no fridge, cooker or sink.
It looks very good in what must be a non-original colour scheme, with a few traces of orange peel but none of the bubbles, touch-ups or traces of filler so often seen around the door apertures, sills, arches and steps. The vendor got the van from the restorer and says hardly any new panels were required, which fits with the overall look of the seams and panel fit. There are wobbles in the surface here and there and a couple of dings in the roof but it’s only the incipient rust-staining in the rain gutter that needs any remedy. The narrow-white walled Hankook Optima 195 75/14s work well with the two-tone paint.
The engine is a new 2.0-litre twin-carb unit, and has plenty of urge. Interior is in good condition and boasts a working heater and retro-look stereo.
The interior is something of a personal choice - the upholstery is textured leatherette with VW logos on the front seats, while the rear is halfway to being a full camper, with a small bed, a side bench and a television, powered by a mains hook-up in the engine bay. There’s also a working Propex heater with the controls in the driver’s seat pedestal. The floor, seat bases and ceiling are panelled with a dark oak-stained planking. There’s a retro-look modern stereo and four fitted speakers.
On the road it’s a mixture of pleasant surprises and familiar shortcomings; anyone who hasn’t driven a Splittie in a while will spend the first mile or two performing a series of slight S-bends down the road, over-compensating for the slow steering. The seating position also takes some getting used to, being so offset to the left of the pedals.
The gearchange is neat and positive via a large Empi shifter, but the engine demands most of your attention. It’s a new 2.0-litre twin-carb unit fitted after the restoration and is very noisy, largely due to the absence of a mattress or a pile of camping gear behind the rear seat. But it has a lot of urge; enough to need a higher final drive to take advantage of the extra capacity - 55mph is about all that’s comfortable. The brakes are fine but there’s no servo so a strong leg is needed to stop the van quickly when full.
Prices for split-screen vans vary drastically, but full campers based on this bodyshell sell for £30,000 and more in Condition 1 so there’s room in the asking price to install soundproofing, fit taller gearing and even modify the interior to suit your needs without overspending.
KNOW YOUR T2
Type 2 with distinctive split windscreen launched 1950 you could choose a Kombi, a Commercial (panel van) or a Microbus. All used engines of just 1131cc, rising to 1192cc in 1953.
► By 1955 other body styles had been added - a walk-through van with doors on both sides, a flatbed pick-up, a crew-cab pick-up and a Samba- Bus, with skylight windows and a cloth sunroof (these are now worth £40,000 and up).
► From 1955 the engine cover shrank, so pre-1955 examples are known as ‘barn-doors’. Westfalia, makers of Camping Box conversions since 1951, began production of Type 2 camper models in 1958.
► A 1.5-litre, 50bhp engine became standard on all Type 2s in the US market in #1963
. German split screen (‘splittie’ production ceased in 1967 but Brazil continued until 1975.
► Shorthand calls the Kombi or Bus the 11-window model; the DeLuxe the 15-window, the Sunroof Deluxe or Samba the 23-window. The 15- and 23-window became 13- and 21-window from 1964.
► One-piece windscreen from 1967 earns nickname Bay. Type 2 production ends in December 2013.
Price £24,999 Contact Border Reivers (borderreivers.co, 01360 870103)
Engine 1970cc flat-four, OHV
Power (est) 70bhp @ 5000rpm
Torque (est) 90lb ft @ 2900rpm
Top speed: 75mph;
Fuel consumption 24mpg (est)