Dependable Cleaners: 1963 VW Bus

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

Just when I think there can’t possibly be another old VW van languishing somewhere with vintage display advertising intact, someone has to go and prove me wrong. It really serves to demonstrate just how popular these German panel vans were for business purposes, serving all sorts of industries with lots of space and good fuel economy. This 1963 split window here on eBay wears some awesome period livery and sports a desirable Westfalia interior. 

According to the seller, the Bus suffered an engine fire early in its working life, with the heat damage to the paint still visible. The motor had less than 45,000 miles at the time of implosion, so its time on the road delivering freshly dry-cleaned clothing was cut short. Of course, that’s my assumption as to what “cleaners” represents, and there’s a mention of delivery services on the front doors. If this Bus is configured as it left the factory, it’s a bit unusual to see a commercial application complete with the Westfalia package, but hey – if you work van can be your play van, why not?

This interior configuration included a full-length rack, tent and collapsible picnic bench. What I admire the most about this particular VW is that somehow, despite an engine fire sidelining the Bus early in its life, the interior remained nicely preserved while the charred exterior was left as-is. It does make me a bit curious as to this Bus’ story and its ability to survive what you’d presume would render most vehicles totaled by their insurance company. Even better, the exterior has been preserved while any serious rust was cut out and replaced, according to the seller, who has simply maintained the Bus rather than upgrading it.

We’ve seen the many stories about Buses saved from lake beds and forests, showing there’s not much of a limit in terms of how far an air-cooled enthusiast will go to keep a rare example on the road. The early ones like this example are well-loved by the VW community, and I hope this split-window ’63 never loses the details that make it so unique. Bidding is already over $15,000 with several days left in the auction, and there isn’t a reserve in sight. What do you think it will sell for?

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Comments

  1. Bobsmyuncle

    While I’ve owned a Split for decades I’m not an expert on Westfalias.

    That said I’m confident this is simply a panel van whose owner has incorporated some Westfalia doodads.

    Interior configuration doesn’t match any I’ve seen over the years, nor have I seen a Westfalia without windows.

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  2. redwagon

    so for the $ I would rather have the Buick listed earlier today. that is such a pretty car.

    this one should be repainted but I doubt it is worth 15k as it sits. well at least not to me.

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    • Bobsmyuncle

      Market value is quite a bit higher.

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  3. KO

    From an avowed bus lover I have to admit prices have gone insane over the last 15-20 years. Now they’re downright stupid which is why I’ll be holding on to mine.

    Westy interior my be in original condition but isn’t original to the bus. Buses tell cool stories, your wallet has to decide how cool that story is.

    Panel buses are third on the value list. Given equivalent year, condition, etc. Deluxe models always come first – especially the sunroof deluxe, with campers second. Logoed panels are easily third. The special/weird models are pretty high too, i.e. fire trucks, ambulances.

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  4. Edward

    I had a ’64 Kombi that shared many of the same exterior features a this vehicle. The Westphalia interior shown can only be authenticated by other camper owners of same vintage. Major changes took place for model year 1968 both inside and out, and these look to be from this later era.

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  5. Woodie Man

    Its been some years since I sold my 23 window 67..with a Westphalia I put into it from the bus pictured above….and original tin top Westphalia. That said, and accounting for the stray variations, I would be very surprised if this Westphalia bits wasnt a transplant.

    After all what woud be the purpose of a Westphalia in a panel…..with no access to the front.

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    • Andrew

      Windowless panel vans were often used by tradespeople and department stores in Europe. You don’t need windows to have a Miele washing machine delivered or radio and tv repaired. Europe requires delivery vans to have a partition between the driver and cargo, in case it shifts forward during heavy braking and potentially pushing the driver into the dash and steering wheel.

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    • Howard A Member

      Ronnie was a fascist?? Since when???

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      • jackthemailman

        Since Steven Stills (?) called him Ronnie Ray-gun. ‘Way long time ago. Maybe Woodstock?

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    • Bobsmyuncle

      Just to be clear 23 window buses were only produced up to and including 1963.

      After that the most you could get was 21.

      They are both ‘deluxe’ trim level but the rear gate design change negated the rear corner windows.

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    • KO

      True dat Bobsmyuncle. Also to clarify, a decent number of panels had a walk-through front seat instead of a bench seat. This saved time for the delivery driver as they could get to the cargo immediately, then exit through the side doors. This saved the time of walking around the bus. You can just barely tell the Ronnie bus above has this front seat configuration. I added one of my walk-through Deluxe too.

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  6. KO

    Here is the pic.

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