1959 VW Type 2 “Volkstream” High-End Custom

Business in the front and party in the back. That’s the description of the mullet haircut, but it’s also a way of showing the juxtaposition of two unlike things melded into one. That’s what tipster TJ has found for us in this 1959 Volkswagen Type 2 with a VW front end and an Airstream back end. It’s for sale here on craigslist for an asking number of $123,695, and you’ll have to find a way to get it home from Grants Pass, Oregon.

For the purists amongst you Vee Dub fans, the ad is quick to point out that this, ahem, “creation,” was not made at the expense of a genuine 23-window bus, but an 11-window model that had been wrecked in the rear. So no curses, please, of the vehicle dubbed the “Volkstream,” for the obvious homage to Airstream trailer design. The lengthy ad, practically a magazine feature on the vehicle, explains that the builder specializes in creating overlapping, riveted, formed and polished aluminum pieces such as make up the rear end of this van. So what are you getting for your money? Something unique enough to be labeled in the ad a “sculpture” and a work of art. No doubt it is that. It would draw looks wherever you took it. The workmanship, in addition, is of the highest quality, done by Randy Grubb, who has built cars for as high-end a collector as Jay Leno.

The interior is pretty much stock VW except for the “Z” bed fabricated by Randy, but the motivation consists of a 2.5-liter Subaru Boxer engine mated to a Freeway Flyer Type 2 transaxle. See the ad for descriptions of other mechanical innovations that make this one go, stop, and turn. It’s bespoke stuff from the sounds of it. The build took a reported 5,000 hours, which means that if the parts are free, all of them, and so is the bus the builder started with, then he’s making $25 bucks an hour for being one of the most talented customizers in the world. Who said art paid?

But even if this is your cup of tea, it’s tempting to ask what else you could have for the price of two years’ tuition at most private colleges. You could get that, and give your kid a head start in life. Or you could get any number of righteous muscle cars, from a 396 Chevelle to some of the lesser Shelby Mustangs. Or his-and-hers GTOs? That might be fun. The other question, of course, is if you get it, what you will actually do with it. It’d be easy to steal but pretty hard to conceal, so that’s likely not a concern if you want to take it on a road trip, but do you really want to explain to Hagerty Insurance the price you paid when you arrange coverage? And what would the plan be if someone pranged you backing out of a space at the local home improvement warehouse? Or maybe people with hundreds of thousands of bucks to put into toys don’t worry about such things. In which case, there’s a phone number in the ad waiting for you to call it.


  1. TheOldRanger

    Drop the 1 and 2 and 3 from the price, and even then I’d really have to decide if this thing is worth that… I’ve never had any love for the VW bug or bus.

    Like 8
    • Grog

      Um, how would a person access the engine compartment?

      Like 8
      • Dan Johnston

        I’m guessing by lifting the mattress, then the engine cover. Like a Vanagon.

        Lotta work here. Too pretty to use every day, drive on gravel, or otherwise live with, but a lovely thing to buy, park, and look at.

        Oh, to have the funds to be able to do THAT.

  2. Troy

    Translation, I don’t really want to sell it I finally got sober and realized how much I have invested in this thing

    Like 5
    • angliagt angliagt Member

      This is from a dealer (AUTOMANIA,in Grants Pass,Oregon),so he does want to sell it.
      The builder of this has made some interesting
      vehicles – look up “Randy Grubb” on YouTube.

      Like 5
    • BULL

      He did not “Invest” the builder SPENT!

      Like 5
  3. Howard A Member

    Now, now, we’ve been over thi$ and over thi$, however, I think this is really cool. I get such a kick out of people that actually have some remorse telling the world it was NOT a 23 window. Big deal,,I say, but the joke is on me, apparently 23 windows have a bigger following than most religions.
    This? Fun stuff for the rich and famous,,and BFs writers, who can easily afford these things, and why not? Heaven forbid you should die with all that money, rather than help someone,,,

    Like 4
  4. Greg Gustafson

    I’m not a VW fan but this unit is cool and probably worth every penny the seller is asking for it. As a fabricator and change everything I touch kind of guy, I can appreciate the Herculean effort that this creation took. He basically addressed every issue that those micro-busses had with real world solutions. Kudos!
    I was working in a Suzuki shop back in the 70s and a customer came in and wanted an exhaust flange stud which was 6mm on one end and 8mm on the other, and about 40mm long. The customer nearly choked when I told him it’s price of about 80 cents. He said “80 cents for that little part?”
    I replied: “did you ever try to make one?” He got out his money.

    Like 9
  5. doug

    Why do they always choose a VW to build a clown car? Hideous!

    Like 3
  6. Cobra Steve

    As the proud owner of a ’60 and ’66 Variant (Squareback), I like the VW marque. Always felt the Type IIs were over priced but then again, whatever the market will bear!

    That said, I am curious if the fabricator installed some type of insulator between the steel bus body and the Airstream aluminum? Two dissimilar metals, electrolytic corrosion, likely to occur.

    Like 3
    • Cobra Steve

      As the proud owner of a ’60 Beetle and ’66 Variant (Squareback), I like the VW marque. Always felt the Type IIs were over priced but then again, whatever the market will bear!

      That said, I am curious if the fabricator installed some type of insulator between the steel bus body and the Airstream aluminum? Two dissimilar metals, electrolytic corrosion, likely to occur.

      Like 1
  7. steve

    Coolant pipes I see.. Radiator I do not see. There seems to be an access hatch above the engine which means below the bed. The Subaru doesn’t need all the attention that the air cooled unit did BUT climbing over the bed and opening a hatch to check the OIL?!?!!? One problem with ALL custom builds is that they are built to the taste of the owner/builder. This is FAR beyond lowering or wheel flares etc. Any of the things that were done to improve the original design such as the brakes, powerplant, steering? Fine. Fancy interior? Aahhh yeah..OK… Smashing two dissimilar vehicles together to make one which is…better….? no..really. Where is the improvement? It is simply an exercise in “Look at ME!!!!” Why not graft on a the nose of a Studebaker Hawk while you’re at it. Yes, it took a lot of time and skill to produce. And…….

    Like 2
    • Howard A Member

      A guy in my little town, has a VW bus with a Subaru motor. I too was curious about the cooling. Apparently, the radiator is mounted under the floor, with 2 electric fans. It’s a common swap, and much improved power. And for the record, Subarus don’t need the oil checked, they never use any anyways. Ask our own Scotty G, that got an OUTSTANDING 325K out of one,,,

      • Gregg

        Are you kidding about the oil consumption thing? Because my Forester XT (2.5 turbo) at 256K needed a quart every other fill up… Research I did at the time indicated that was not unusual for that motor…

  8. Joe Haska

    I like it and I believe it is automotive art. One reason, I believe this, is because of the comments. Art is in the eye of the artist and creates as much negativity, as accolades and this bus certainly does that.
    In visiting the MOMA with an artist, I stated. ” I could have done that”. He immediately said “Yes, but you didn’t”.

    Like 6
    • Terrry

      Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so is ugly.

  9. Cadmanls Member

    Another, do I like it? Yes, would I want to own it? Nope it’s too much and I don’t mean the money!

    Like 3
  10. DelBoy

    I approve of the custom back end. Flat rear panels just ‘aint sexy. I do not approve of the price. Is he nutz? And seriously; is that what a college education costs in America? My college tuition fees in 1974 were £50 a year. Made a good living in my chosen profession but the college taught me only one useful lesson; ‘presentation is 50%’.

  11. JimmyinTEXAS

    Get it home from Grants Pass. Heck, for $123,695 you should be able to fly it back.

    • Terrry

      It should fly on its own for that price.

      Like 2
  12. Mitch

    My sort of type 2 is a double cab or a panel van. For free body
    styling aka flared rear fenders or custom rear deck they offer
    more creative flexibility then a van.
    On this the rear portion goes too low from the roof and its
    sparkling finish in aluminium causes strong sun reflections. Not
    really useful in traffic except its made just for show purpose.

    Like 3
  13. Sam61

    I can dig it and appreciate it for what it is. I’m not OCD but the visual of the stainless not following the curvature of the rear side windows would bother me for ever! That’s my excuse for not buying other than not having the money.

    Sidenote…looks like the grandchild of the Flixable buses that ran to O’Hare and Midway.

    Like 4
  14. Steveo

    Nope. Interior is nothing special. Grafting on some aluminum panels seems like a lot more work than the effort was worth. This is in no way better than any other Type 2. The Subi conversion is nice but totally offset by the PITA it is to get to when you want to check the oil level – which you honestly should do often unless it’s a brand-new engine.

    Like 1
  15. Andy G.

    Very nice creation, I think the price draws the negative comments. Most of us are car guys, not art collectors. Hard to fault the workmanship

    Like 1
  16. George Birth

    Unusual VW, that’s for sure. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder they say, and this one is out there!!!!

    Like 1
  17. Ken Barker Ken Member

    I like the Subaru swap.
    Water cooled & solves the heater problems vdubs had. A sheet metal guy probably could replicate
    The original tail. Hmmmmm

    Like 1

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