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Mental Health Transport: 1971 VW Bus

While VW Transporters tend to be a dime a dozen, finding a later model in decent condition is always worth a closer look. Although most air-cooled fanatics are salivating over earlier models in the 23-window configuration, this could be a good time to snag a less-desirable but far cheaper example like this 1971 Bus here on eBay and located in Maine, where it used to transport employees to the Augusta Mental Health Institute in the 70s. 

What stands out right away is the impressive condition of the interior. Although the seller could have done a better job photographing some of the less attractive areas of the van, it is unusual to see a Bus in any configuration with an interior as clean as this one. The headliner appears nearly new and the middle and rear row benches are untorn. Sure, you wouldn’t have the exclusivity of windows cut into the roof, but that’s also probably a big reason why the headliner isn’t stained! If it was used for employee transport, that might explain why it’s equipped with the rare gas-fired heater.

Up front, the same level of impressive interior preservation continues, with an uncracked dash and factory radio still in place. The glovebox should hold a bevy of original paperwork and owner’s documents, according to the seller, and even the original “Morlong Falmouth” dealer decals are still intact. Within that paperwork, the seller claims there’s a receipt documenting an engine rebuild performed in 1977, though the engine currently does not run. It will turn over with a battery hooked up, but given it’s been off the road since 1990, some level of mechanical restoration will be required.

The seller doesn’t include any full-on shots of the front of the Bus,  but there are some photos in the listing documenting body rust and some amateur bodywork as seen in this photo. The photos seem to indicate some level of corrosion on the frame, but I can’t tell just how deep it goes. The tires will also need replacing, as the ones in the photo are dry-rotted. The seller has a buy-it-now of $6,500 listed, but I think $4,500 would be a fair price given the questions about rust that won’t be answered without an in-person inspection. What do you think this former employee transport Bus is worth?


  1. Alfie

    Not even 10 minutes. Ad already pulled.

  2. angliagt

    I guess that you’d have to be crazy to ride in that thing.

  3. CliffG Member

    Too bad it is gone. I had a 1971, drove it across the country. 1971 was the first year with dual ported heads and front disc brakes. My gas heater didn’t work but I had bought a totaled bus and had a good body shop fix the sliding door and frame, still miss it sometimes.

  4. Brakeservo

    Paging Dr. Bondo, paging Dr Bondo.

  5. Larry S

    Dr Bondo, Or Dr. Kevorkian?

  6. Larry

    The Type II buses like this are not a dime a dozen. While mine was a Westy and bit better shape, she should for over $25k recently. It’s not uncommon to see Westy’s go go between $20k and $30k

    Transporters in good condition will go for slightly less. Something not running and rotting in a field will easily fetch $5k

  7. Jeff

    Yeah, Larry is right. I really get tired of the folks slamming VW buses, if it’s not your thing move on, don’t leave high schoolish comments. But it’s just like the Mustang vs Camaro feuds, Harley’s vs Every Other Mototcycle, etc. I recently posted a pic of a VW bus with a beautiful girl in a bikini on a VAN site and people freaked-It’s not a van some cried! Seriously? Get a life! When I see ANY vehicle that somone is really into but it’s not “my thing” I politely smile and say “Thats nice” and walk away. Far be it from me to rain on someone’s parade. just my .02 cents BTW, Ive owned 11 VW buses, a Vette, a 67 Mustang, a ’69 Camaro, and about 100 other cars!

  8. David Miraglia

    my cousin Harry owned a couple, until my parents bought the 164. We used to putter around the five boroughs and New York, New Jersey in Harry’s Type2.
    No speedster, but it was fun to ride in one.

  9. Ralph

    Being from the great frozen Northeast and being a VW fan for decades, I remember a guy who bought a bus in the mid-70s, and a salesman at the dealer, telling me that all of the Type 2s that were sold in cold climates were equipped with the gas heater. So it may not be quite so rare. I know it made a great difference, especially in a bus. I’ve also seen a Type 3 notchback from Sweden with one. I had a 73 Thing with a gas heater that didn’t work either. But since I now live in Florida I didn’t really care lol.

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