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1959 Volkswagen 23 Window Bus Barn Find!

This 1959 Volkswagen Bus is a desirable 23-window example that was parked for decades in a remote Kansas town before finding its way to the seller. The long-time owners had plans to restore the Bus, but that vision never materialized. Instead, the rare model was allowed to languish until the seller caught wind of it and put a deal together. He’s done some light restoration work to make it more presentable, which you can see here on eBay where bidding is over $25K.

One of the more painstaking projects the seller took on was to strip the top layer of paint down to its original colors, which was a handsome combination of Sealing Wax Red and Beige Grey paint. If the seller was able to get past the ugly home-made paint job and find these vibrant original colors, he has more patience than I do. Not only that, the original roof panel was severely rotted out and the seller managed to find another 23-window roof section to weld in.

That last part raises a question in my mind about a scenario that can play out across multiple projects: is it better to do some of the heavy lifting before attempting to make a sale, or simply to put it up for grabs two minutes after you drag it home so your only labor is the actual negotiation and delivery of the vehicle? I’ve never been lucky enough to find a vehicle in the latter scenario that’s valuable enough to flip on its own, but a 23-window certainly seems like it would be.

Whatever your answer, it’s at least more enticing to bid on a project where the seller has gotten some of the bigger to-dos out of the way. Replacing that roof panel had to have been a chore, along with finding the perfect combination of a rare 23-window Bus with a body that was too far gone to save but a roof panel that was rot-free. The seller notes the interior features a good front seat and “buildable” rear seat and deluxe bar. While I still don’t get the appeal of these, they keep bringing in respectable bid numbers. Will this one meet reserve?


  1. DRV

    That was serious heavy lifting, but after seeing rust replacement of one of these on a show, not all the lifting is done.The paint removal had to be super slow but rewarding .
    I once removed 3 layers from a Corvette with razor blades. Chemical removal had too many downsides.

    Like 12
  2. Gaspumpchas

    Some amazing work by the seller. He will get his efforts back in spades. However,as DRV said, much more to be done. Looks like it sat on the ground on flat tires for a long time. 27 large already, whew. Good inspection needed, I too amused by the prices these are supposedly bringing. I worked on my share of these when they were plentiful- you measured zero to sixty with an hourglass. In a front end collision the driver was the first at the scene. Good luck to the new owner. Caveat Emptor!

    Like 12
  3. Chris in Pineville

    1980, I sold my 18-window ’67 with typical Ohio rust in the rockers but a newly rebuilt engine for $300…..

    Like 12
    • Stan M

      I was just about to say, you probably could have bought 25 to 40 of these in the seventies for that kind of money. Nobody wanted them.

      Like 2
  4. ace10


    Like 5
  5. Skylinerwjmc

    I compliment the seller. That’s how it should be done with a rare project. Taking it from almost beyond saving and bringing it into the sphere of feasible restoration. Obviously the seller had the talent necessary or the contacts, to get the challenging work done. Nice to see and I hope he gets top dollar for his efforts

    Like 11
  6. chrlsful

    “…is it better to do some of the heavy lifting before…” I’ve been here long enuff to know U ask that rhetorically, Jeff.

    If U have what’s needed ‘value added’ is all ways the way ta go (garage, talent, time, skill, tools, prts contact) unless “the pool of interested” is too small for ROI. Know the vehicle (I’m switchin frm bronks to fox soon/with this last 1) know the field, the buyers, etc. Most know if U buy a veedub bus low – its 1 of the better ROI due to the supply/demand equation currently (not 4 long).(U also know what we thinka that TV dolphin from the 60s TV show).

    Thnx 4 da write-up, thnx for the listing JL !

    Like 3
  7. Joe Machado

    Drop a crate engine, 350 like everything else. 4 speed. Drive hard and watch the rust fly off. Then it will not be in the way on the freeway. Never liked these. Wind blows these all around. Knew owners that said they would hide it behind buildings so wind could not see them.

    Like 3
  8. Little_Cars

    Is it just me or is the story of grafting a new roof on this and cleaning the layers of paint down to original a little hard to swallow? Without going to the listing (chide me all you want) it seems we are looking at two different buses. Note the radiused rear wheel arches in the first photo! And where did that accessory roof rack go? To me that as found photo shows the bus was used for it’s original intended purpose–transporting goods and people. Wonder why this isn’t listed on theSamba.com?

    Like 15
    • Will Fox

      Thank you. All your points I wonder about as well. I think we’re seeing two different buses. I think the seller is having readers believe they are one in the same, but they’re not. Not even close. And besides; no one takes a heap like this and waste the time trying to “save” the original paint underneath. Way too much in question on this listing, IMHO.

      Like 9
      • Frank M

        Wonder if the first one was too far gone but had a title….

        Like 6
    • snarky

      Not just you, Little_Cars! 1st bus is a 1962 or later. turn signals. bumper. wheel well. “chrome trims” Not to mention all the other differences. maybe his first two pics (the newer bus) are mistakes? he has a lot of type 2’s.
      two different buses hinky

      Like 4
  9. Mike

    Looks like the seller did some patina work on it taking off paint in weird patterns. Doesn’t look natural.

    Like 2
  10. David G

    As others have mentioned, it looks like two different buses. Seller does not mention replacing quarter panels due to them being cut/enlarged, or the front panel that has different parking lights than the ‘before’ photo. Bumper is different also. Something is not right here.

    Like 8
  11. Little_Cars

    Serial # or VIN tag swap with the one from the elderly ppl? Every panel on the first photo (and others on the eBay listing) is damaged, plus the radiused rear wheel arches. I’m thinking the story was created to justify a nicer “sealing wax red” bus with no title or weird provenance. The seller says they matched patina. I say we are looking at something from their inventory that needed a VIN in order to be sold with a title. The drive by video also shows that even if the glass has been resealed, the delamination of some of the side glass has begun especially on the drivers’ side.

    Like 8
  12. Luki

    That is the same bus. No shenanigans going on here. Yes the new owner did add a few items and remove the rack.
    The roof for a 21 window and a 23 window are the same. Plus some replacement roofs have been made.

    Like 2
    • Frank M

      Front turn signals and rear wheel wells. Two major differences. Crease in the side passenger door looks similar, but a door is easy to swap. Questions that would suggest you look closely if you were thinking about buying

      Like 6
  13. Joe Machado

    Could this be a scammer got the ad and wants your money?

    Like 3
  14. Gitchesum

    1st pic is a 21….2nd pic is a 23.

    Like 2
    • Luki

      First pic is not a 21 window. The first pic has high hinges so it can’t be a 21 window. Plus if you look at the pictures closely you will see the rear corner windows.

      Like 2
  15. Glenn Schwass

    I think it looks great and would leave it as is but would need a much more powerful engine. The stock ones are too slow….It will go to a good home hopefully. I wish I could do that kind of welding…

    Like 0
  16. Scott Member

    Well if you like Patina…..this thing has got Patina!

    Like 0
  17. SusanOliver

    Once had a “lost weekend” in one of these. Don’t ask.

    Like 4
  18. jimmy the orphan

    Maybe this guy think’s were all blind or stupid or both. Maybe he included the picture of the other van by mistake. Whatever the case, if you scraped the paint off the 1st van you would hit bare metal. Yes the rear wheel wells are butchered. the front bumpers are wrong. It has a roof rack that I’m guessing is very hard to find. I mean does he own the other van ? What’s the BEEP BEEPING deal here ? The search for answers continues. ……………..JIMMY THE ORPHAN.

    Like 5
  19. TimM

    Something seems fishy!!! Different vans!!

    Like 5
  20. SquirrelyGig

    Sorry to jump on the humbug wagon, but IMO things don’t add up here.
    If the two transporters pictured are the same, then waaay more than a roof has been grafted. Unless, the owners perception of a roof goes all the way from bumper to bumper. I question the true ’59 authenticity?
    My guess is the bus in the first two pics was what they purchased & grafted w/ something else they purchased that resembled a ’59 @ one time.
    Both do appear to be 23 window, so I’m not sure why some are saying otherwise?
    Also, as Little_Cars stated, not sure why this is not on The Samba? Based on the # of other transporters in the back ground of the pic’s, I would guess that the seller is a VW enthusiast & familiar w/ the site.
    BS or not I always like to hear a sellers reason for parting ways w/ something like this, which is void from the their description?
    One way or another, it’s great to see this piece on its way to coming back to life. I just hope in the end the new owner is happy w/ it & the money they’ve spent is not an ultimate disappointment & they enjoy it once on the road.

    Like 2
  21. bobhess bobhess Member

    I’m with Luki. Something smells and it’s not what used to live in it. Still a nice package.

    Like 2
  22. Little_Cars

    Needs to take the rusty, scraped and carrier-capped Transporter from the lead photos off the listing so us mere mortals are not confused. Nowhere on the eBay listing does the seller mention those “before” photos ARE NOT the vehicle belonging to the elderly couple. Perhaps Luki is right, there are no shenanigans but there’s time left on the auction to straighten out the pictures or add more narrative.

    Like 1

    This reminds me of one of those drawings that are usually on the comics page of the paper and you are to find the differences between the 2 drawings.

    Like 1

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