Forest Find: 1955 Volkswagen 23 Window Samba Bus

The rusted metal piled deep in these crates was once a 1955 Volkswagen Deluxe Microbus, also known as a Samba Bus or Sunroof Deluxe. The crates are located in Richmond, Virginia, and listed here on Hemmings for $34,500, or best offer. Many thanks to Boot for the tip!

Named the Type 2 by the factory in order to distinguish it from the Type 1 Beetle, the Volkswagen Microbus burst onto the scene in 1950 and was initially offered only as the Kombi, with side windows and removable rear seats, and the Commercial model. The Deluxe variant, with its 23 windows and vinyl sunroof would make its first appearance in 1951. Production of the “barndoor” Samba– so called because of the large engine cover– lasted until February of 1955, when the line was shut down at the Wolfsburg plant and production of the Microbus was moved to Hanover. That would make this example, with a build date of February 6, one of the very last buses to come out of the Wolfsburg facility.

Let us briefly turn our attention to a matter of philosophy: namely, the ship of Theseus. The legend goes that in ancient times, the Athenians preserved the ship in which Theseus had returned to the city after slaying the Minotaur, carefully replacing each of the timbers as they rotted away. Over the decades and centuries, all of the wood in this ship had been replaced several times, leading philosophers to question whether it really was the same ship at all. The same question will inevitably arise when considering the path that awaits the metal in these crates. When does a restoration become a re-creation, and if the only thing the new car shares with the old is the title and the VIN, is it really the same car? If the only functioning gauge that remains is the odometer, can one truly make the claim of 27,000 original miles?

The early VW Buses are fantastically collectible and command astronomical prices, and none are so desirable as the top-of-the-line Samba. Examples in a similar state have been resurrected, in name if not entirely in substance. It’s often been said that any car can be restored, given enough time and money. Depending on the model, these restorations might even come out ahead, producing a highly sought-after vehicle. But whether it is the original vehicle is a question that must be answered first in the heart of the next owner of these disjointed pieces of steel and rust.

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Comments

  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Price and the product get a “you’ve got to be kidding” award.

    Like 117
  2. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    My only comment on this one is LOL! Good luck with the sale!

    Like 63
    • Richardd Adams

      Move along people, nothing to see here.

      Like 9
  3. Moparman Member

    $34.5K?!! In the words of Monty Python: “Surely ye jest”!! :-)

    Like 52
    • FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

      I would fart in the seller’s general direction, take my $34k, buy a classic muscle car and drive off laughing.

      Like 73
  4. nycbjr Member

    one word “insane” lol

    Like 42
  5. Rex Kahrs Member

    Well, obviously, no in-person inspection is really needed.

    Like 42
  6. angliagt angliagt Member

    You could buy this to go along with that ’71 Toyota pickup.

    Like 7
  7. Dan August

    Please dont dump old cars in the forest…please respect our environment.
    Thanks.

    Like 51
  8. Steve Clinton

    AHAHAHAHAH! Thanks for the laugh.

    Like 14
  9. Geoff

    Pretty sure this one crosses the line into “doesn’t make sense”. I’ve restored some pretty hopeless cars, but I’m not sure I would even call this a “car”. Is it worth a few million dollars?? or was it owned by Steve McQueen or something? A lot of cars that actually ARE worth a few million dollars don’t get restored from this condition.

    Like 13
  10. mike b

    The box will need the same disclaimer as cereal: some settling of contents may occur during shipping.

    Like 38
  11. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    27,000 original miles? This time I believe it.

    Like 5
    • Superdessucke

      It got stuck and couldn’t go any further!

      Like 6
  12. Will Fox

    Car sellers re an interesting bunch. Most are realistic in their pricing and representation of product being sold. Then there’s this idiot. The poor old bus is 3/4 of the way to returning to the earth from which it came, and he expects $34,500?! He’s OBVIOUSLY been reading way too many ads for fully restored buses, and thinking he can cut a fat hog with this. He’s going to have to find out on his own that pulling a price out of his rear and expecting to get it are two entirely different things. All I see is scrap. Because that’s all it is.

    Like 20
    • DayDreamBeliever Member

      The sad thing is, just a few more years sitting, and it would have been successful in returning the elements from which it was made back to the earth.

      Seems like that was what it was trying to do, until someone interrupted the process.

      Like 16
  13. AMXBrian

    lol insane. I think we’d still be arguing if it was listed for $3,450 and in this shape. There’s no one that would pay that unless you were guaranteed to make your money back when complete

    Like 11
    • JimK

      Even at $345 I doubt you would find enough usable parts

      Like 23
      • Steve Clinton

        …or buyers.

        Like 11
  14. bobhess bobhess Member

    Would you eat beans out of a can made from this thing?

    Like 12
  15. NovaTom

    Obviously the seller thinks since it came from the same dealer as James Deans Porsche it’s worth an extra $34;250.

    Like 7
  16. Fred W

    Ad says “Very Rusty”… now there’s the understatement of the year! I’d say it was a joke if found on FB Marketplace, but the seller PAID to put it on Hemmings!

    Like 15
    • SDJames

      “patchy solid metal” is more like it! My gosh, good luck to the buyer. Any vehicle that comes in a box is too much project for this guy.

      Like 1
  17. Superdessucke

    It went up the country. And never came back.

    Like 2
  18. schooner

    I swear to god this was posted in my local Patch yesterday. Contemplating a bid? “Looking for a mechanic that has experience working with vintage vw buses.”

    Like 1
  19. chriswift

    You can’t put a value on that kind of high grade patina.

    Like 13
  20. Dave

    Did you ever watch “The Fifth Element”? They had a machine that recreated the Fifth Element from a hand found after the Mangalores destroyed her ship.
    You need to put what’s left of this VW in that machine.

    Like 2
  21. Roger Hackney

    smokin what ? !

    Like 6
  22. DavidH

    My grandkids would love it if I brought this home so they could play in the boxes! I hate to disappoint them but the cardboard boxes are a little overpriced. And then what is that junk inside them?!

    Like 10
  23. Terrry

    $34k, as-is, absolutely no warranty.

    Like 2
  24. Cattoo Cattoo Member

    *Not for children under the age of three. **Some assembly required.

    Like 6
  25. gaspumpchas

    Gotta admit, never saw any of these being sold in a carboard box. Wonder why the guys paid good $$$$ to put in Hemmings. Good luck and happy bidding.
    Cheers
    GPC

    Like 6
  26. Derek

    Cutting it up (or giving the constituent parts a sharp tug…) was probably a daft thing to do. Should’ve braced up what was there and extracted it in one piece – and then offer it for a bargain Samba price, ‘cos the roof windows’re there and so on. Wisne interested onywye…

    Like 2
    • Cattoo Cattoo Member

      That may have been his original thought but seeing has how there is only three or four panels of glass in it the last of the rigidity was lost.

      Like 3
  27. michael e snyder

    Just lost faith in Hemmings for even listing this.

    Like 9
  28. chevelle guy

    DON’T try to lowball this guy …. he knows what he has 😂

    Like 27
    • stu

      Sure he does….
      S@#T!

      Like 3
  29. chevelle guy

    DON’T try to lowball this guy …. he knows what he has …

    Like 5
  30. Rex Kahrs Member

    Best comment yet, chevelle guy. Beer almost came out my nose.

    Like 8
  31. Mutt

    Better hurry before it disappears…

    Like 16
    • stu

      It’s gone…to late…

      Definitely kidding here….

  32. Mark

    Another case of insulting the intelligence of the common man.
    And we wonder why many of the youth of today turn away from the vehicles of the past. Many of our grandkids will never be able to afford to enter the hobby because of nonsense like this.
    $34k for a so called vehicle stacked in cardboard boxes which wouldn’t set off the worlds most sensitive metal detector. It’s time we collectively get a grip.

    Like 6
  33. Roger Hackney

    Pretty funny David H.
    Really I’d hate to offer fifty dollars for this thing , I’d be afraid he’d except the offer .

    Like 6
  34. MitchRoss Member

    So this is likely the price for the vin tags. If it has a rebuildable engine It can be numbers matching. Then just get a Brazilian bus for “parts” and they make aftermarket roof panels and glass and you have your $200,000 23 window bus. I really can’t believe, at this point that the people buying these things are genuine Kombi enthusiasts. Maybe just collectors of stuff other people say is valuable.

    Like 9
    • Steveo

      Or you re-vin the stolen 23 window bus you have been hiding in your garage all these years.

      Like 13
      • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

        Except in the past decade or so…Why would anyone steal one other than a college prank?

        Like 2
    • Glen

      No engine and trans, so there goes that idea.

      Like 1
  35. Terry

    ran when parked……

    Like 6
    • ERIK

      And survivor…

      Like 3
  36. Mike

    Laugh all you want. People drag these buses out of the muck and spend vast amounts of time, effort & $$$ to get them to perfection. Check out the blog of a guy in Germany restoring one as bad as the one for sale.

    https://blog.entfallteiledienst.de/

    Like 3
    • Terry

      BIG difference between getting the 2nd oldest known samba in existence basically for free (the owners wanted it off the property), vs. paying 35 grand………

      Like 12
    • Steve RM

      You should check out the website above. The guy is crazy but he’s actually getting it done. In my opinion the Samba remains weren’t even worth dragging home but you have to admire his determination and devotion to the project.
      That said $34,500 ???? Yikes !!!

      Like 3
  37. robj Member

    No tire kickers…

    Like 8
    • PairsNPaint

      No tires.

      Like 13
      • Terrry

        That’s a deal killer right there.

        Like 3
      • schooner

        There was. The last photo is the result of someone kicking one.

        Like 1
  38. Frank Farrell

    This reminds me of those ebay ads for old Corvettes – take a typical 20k car and put a price of $199,999 or “best offer” on it. I find it so insulting that if I met that seller I really might do or say something I regret.

    Like 4
  39. losgatos_dale

    f.a.f.

  40. Johnny C.

    somebody call mike wolf!!!

    Like 5
  41. Solosolo Member

    That’s one expensive VIN tag!

    Like 2
    • Poppy

      Especially when the seller doesn’t even bother to post a photo of it.

      Like 2
  42. Scuderia

    Not worth the price of the Hemmings listing.

    Like 3
  43. Mark

    The decimal point must be off… For sale $34.50

    Like 4
    • Howie Mueler

      And even at that price still too much.

      Like 4
  44. Howie Mueler

    Is it April 1st again?

    Like 6
  45. BigBlocksRock

    Only other thing one could do besides laugh is laugh hysterically.

    Like 3
  46. Fran

    From BeeJay corvette to this. Someone said BF’s has lost it and YES they have. Thumbs up if you agree!

  47. Gray Wolf

    Is that price plus UPS shipping!!😂😭

    Like 2
  48. Richard Isenberg

    Wow. What. ??? Why. ??? I wouldn’t give my pocket change for that pile of scrap. C mon. Love my barn finds but why waste a slot for that. You’d have to have a mental problem to buyit. I dare anyone within the reach of my comment to ask ur wife if u can. Lol. No nookie for 25 yrs.

    Like 1
  49. Mike

    Holy Grail…one of one…nice patina…ran when parked…..LOL

    Like 3
  50. Paul N

    maybe I will contact seller and ask for a CURRENT video of it driving. I’d like to see how it handles before extending an offer

    Like 1
    • Dickie F.

      In a cardboard box? It cannot possibly stick to the road.

      Like 2
  51. Pnix

    Would like to see a walk-around video showing it running and driving for 34K.

    Like 1
  52. Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

    Today, due to algorithms and Google, pulling up this Hemmings listing begat another article about another 55 bus in the same color combo. https://www.hemmings.com/stories/2014/11/13/could-this-1955-volkswagen-23-window-samba-bus-set-a-new-pricing-benchmark-for-the-model

    Selling at close to $275k with auction fees, is it any wonder that this seller thinks his boxes deserve a modest $34k price tag. Assemble it and flip if for thousands of dollars!

    Like 1
  53. BR

    I think the seller is crazy like a fox. These have a huge following with deep pockets. Peeps on BF don’t get it because it doesn’t have four-bolt mains or a Cummins diesel.

    https://www.thesamba.com/vw/classifieds/detail.php?id=2321917

    Like 2
    • JoeBob

      BR, thanks for the link. Along with the link Little_Cars provided I’ve been enlightened about the value of these buses. I wouldn’t have guessed.

      Like 1
  54. Michael J Walter

    “Some assembly required.”

    Like 1
  55. FIREMAN DK

    “Advertising is to a genuine article what manure is to land, – it largely increases the product.”
    ― P. T. Barnum

    Yep, that pretty much sums it up……lol

    Like 1
  56. Vinnie G

    34 K. Say what. I know we’re in May but, is this an April fools joke a month late. Somebody been hanging around the local pot shop??

  57. Majik Majik

    I’m guessin’ the VIN tag has rusted to dust as well. So that title is an expensive little piece of paper. Steveo knows what’s up. Pass. ~S

    Like 1
  58. Jcs

    Well, if nothing else it sure has generated a boatload of clicks and comments.

    Like 3
    • The other Mike

      They gotta jump in with all their pricing jokes and digs on the seller “smoking something” quips. People bring stuff like this back from the dead all the time saving as much original metal as possible. Check out the Samba barndoor forum for restoration threads.

      https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewforum.php?f=40

      Like 1
    • Richardd Adams

      Changing the subject. I always thought the term ” barndoors” came from the double side doors ? This writer seems to differ.

      Like 2
      • Steve RM

        With old VW buses, “barndoor” refers to the big engine cover on the very early models. I think until 1955.

        Like 1
  59. DaveO

    For those truly interested: https://blog.entfallteiledienst.de/

    Like 1
  60. Richard Haner

    I am sure the decimal must be in the wrong place….$34.50….yep…that’s about right….;-)

  61. John C.

    Yes Sir! a very reasonable price for a classic! And should only cost a few hundred dollars to make it into show condition, I sure there will be a crowd of bidders fighting over this one. lol!

  62. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    I’ll give you $3.45. You cover the shipping

    WTF????

    Like 1
  63. Carbob Member

    Generated some great commentary. What I don’t get is why restored examples are so extraordinarily expensive.

    Like 2
  64. Retread

    You would think it is made of plywood or something…

    Like 1
  65. Solosolo Member

    But at the end of the day, and having spent thousands of dollars to get it into concours condition, all you have is a perfectly restored POS! They were rubbish back in the day when I owned one, although mine was the Kombi bus, so don’t see how they can be any better 60 years later.

    Like 1
  66. Gerard Planche

    Hey…they can recreate dinosaurs with just some DNA! Maybe…aaah no: that isn’t a bug!

    Like 1
  67. Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

    This about says it all, except the VW is in Virginia, not along the coast.

    Like 4
  68. Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

    As Derek stated earlier, moving the VW was probably the worst thing to do without surrounding it with a crate of some sort. Things happen when you get too aggressive in extracting vintage tin from the earth onto which it has settled.

    Like 3
  69. George

    This is a case of someone’s inflated opinion, another case of paying through the nose for junk. There are too many idiots out there with more money than brains. These are the ones driving prices so high that very few can afford them. Kinda makes me wish I still had my 3 ’55 Chevy convertibles I used to have. And as for those who think I’m blowing smoke Fl’s. DMV records for 1965
    will prove my claim.

  70. Jack Gray

    Maybe Mike Wolfe of American Pickers would make him an offer that’s a little more realistic for a pile of rusted metal since he likes the VW’s.

  71. Ronald A Stephens

    Ordinarily I’d say YGBSM (even this may be against the rules) but I’ll just say HOLD YOUR BREATH.

  72. Regg

    Wow, the reaction to this qualifies it as an art form. An installation that grabs people and makes them react. He should document this in a coherent way and sell tickets…

    I am a fan of archeology but to extract this from the decay of mother earth is a violation of nature itself. These remains will be haunted by the very act of reclaiming them…

  73. Steve

    Tetanus shot required!

  74. Kenn

    George, not more money than brains, ’cause short of an inheritance it took brains to make the money. But, more money than sense does make sense. Lots of wealthy folks have little if any sense when it comes to hobbies.

  75. Graeme2

    I’ve heard that a quality, correct restoration of a 23-window bus is around 100K, given a good starting point. But this shows how crazy the market has become over the last 10 years. It may actually sell.

  76. Ed H

    To purchase and restore this mess would likely exceed the cost to build one from scratch.

    Like 1

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