Live Auctions

Original 1958 Volkswagen 23-Window Samba Bus

I would bet most people wouldn’t look twice at this rusty heap of a VW bus, but those of you that are regular Barn Find readers see something different. This is a real 23-window VW bus produced in Germany in 1957. A quick search of the big auction houses shows just how popular these buses are… They routinely sell for around $100,000! This one is obviously a huge project and may eclipse six figures in the rebuild cost. It can be found here on craigslist with an asking price of $22,500. Located in South Jersey, it will take a dedicated person to tackle this one. Let’s check out more and thanks to T.J. for the tip on this 23-window!

Amazingly the seat perch and dash don’t look too rusty. You can see the dash-mounted clock, which is really cool.

Like the driver’s area, the rear pan doesn’t look very rusty. Despite the outside appearance, this actually may be more solid than it looks at first glance. There are so many options when it comes to interiors. It can be a great place for passengers with plush upholstery, door panels, and a headliner. You can convert it to a camper with a bed, small kitchenette, etc. If this was your project, what would you do with the interior?

Man, this is kind of a sad picture. Hopefully, this one will get a second chance and get a face-lift. If a buyer can get the purchase price down a little, this may be a worthy investment, especially for a skilled sheet metal fabricator. The seller says they have “sourced” period-correct doors, so hopefully, that will help with the search for replacement parts. What do you think of this one? Is it worth the investment?


  1. Cadmanls Member

    Just amazing what is coming out of the woods and somebody’s going to probably pay near if not all the asking price.

    Like 22
  2. MitchRoss Member

    22k for a title and a VIN

    Like 29
    • Mike

      Not really Mitch, they will painstakingly remove all the bad panels and weld in new ones and restore everything back to stock. VW guys are nutty. Check out the build threads where they take the worst stuff ever found rotting into the woods and either bring it back to showroom condition or build their own custom bus.

      Like 28
    • Racer-X

      Except there is no Title. Bill of Sale only. Would have already sold if the Title was included.

      22 5 and nobody would bat an eye.
      + 20k in material for the DIYer and ROI is 100%.

      Except if its hot. The you’re …

      Like 6
    • Rick

      Almost 1K for each window.

      Like 3
  3. Bill Member

    Ok. Time for my old guy story. My first vehicle was a 1960 VW Panel truck. Drove it for two years then the transmission went haywire. Sold it for $100. And it ran and had no rust or body damage. Times have changed

    Like 10
  4. Bruce Ironmonger

    That’s a bargain if it is a genuine 23 window model.

    Like 7
  5. Claudio

    A few flat pieces of glass and a few tires and one is ready for a ride in a time machine , drugs are mandatory!

    Like 9
  6. Rodney - GSM

    This one looks like it “Samba’d” it’s ass off one too many times. Doesn’t mean it can’t recover. Just don’t call too early in the morning.

    Like 10
  7. Terrry

    There was a computer recycling place about 20 miles from here, and the owner had a completely restored bus just like this parked outside the store.He was daily driving it until he got into some sort of accident that nearly destroyed it. I don’t know if it was written off or if it’s been fixed.

    Like 2
  8. terry

    You think this is bad? BF had another that was literally in pieces in several cardboard boxes, no mechanicals, and the price was something like 6 grand.

    Like 6
  9. Sam Shive
  10. Jason

    Pretty sure this was out of a junkyard in western mass years ago. I tried to buy it back then. They were clearing all of the cars out and had some really interesting stuff.

    I have a picture of it from back then that I’ll have to dig up

    Like 4
    • LMK Member

      Jason, What were they asking back then?

      Like 1
  11. Mark

    Gotta love it when people ride the wave and cash in on ridiculous fads.
    The true collectors of these Sambas more than likely already picked up one long ago before all the nonsense started.
    Seems to be nowadays its all about being able to say, I own one, look at me.
    Sooner or later the market value of these rusted Folgers cans is going to take a hit. Wonder if the seller will take Dogecoin as payment……

    Like 4
    • Robin Tomlin

      Nobody gets into the old car hobby for the ‘look at me’ factor. That’s common knowledge.

      Like 3
      • Mark

        Lack of comprehension on your part. Read what I said about real Samba collectors.
        Do you honestly believe the multiudes of people across the country on any given day digging thru want ads trying to find these particular piles of rust are doing so with sole the intent of “getting into the old car hobby”?

  12. Howard A Member

    We all have our catchy take on postings like this, I enjoy some of the clever comments,,,HOWEVER ( here it comes), on a more serious note, I think most of us can agree, either these are just some kind of comical CL posting, posted by BF’s for shock value, or, people are really selling this,,,um, I was going to use the word “junk”, but apparently, that term simply doesn’t apply today, and I may offend some nut that actually thinks $22 grand is acceptable. Really? I mean, have we gotten to the point that $22 THOUSAND DOLLARS, is chump change to someone? Yeah, yeah, it’s their money, blah, blah, all this proves is how low the hobby has sunk. Terrible. Of course the bottom will fall out, seasoned folks have seen this stuff come and go, I can’t afford to have a GD tooth pulled and THIS is what they are pixxing their money away on? Doesn’t even have the “VW” emblem on front. I’m sure Mike Wolfe has one for a couple grand,,

    Like 24
    • Gary

      Yes, fiscal matters in this world need a lot of fixing. If all peoples basic needs were met, then any excess on something like this would be acceptable. How long before people wake up and start demanding real leadership from BOTH sides of the aisle. Leadership meant to be for the majority, not the deep pocketed minority. Jefferson and Hamilton warned us about this in the Federalist Papers 225 years ago.

      Like 19
      • Bill Member

        Actually Jefferson had nothing to do with the Federalist papers.
        Hamilton wrote the bulk, with some assistance from John Jay and James Madison

        Like 2
      • Howard A Member

        Thanks, Gary, you and I are in the same gear here, I can tell. What we could use, and may go above BF’s calling, is a professional opinion from a psychiatrist,,a REAL shrink, one with a PHD (piled high & deep) not an “arm chair shrink”, like me, in human behavior, as to why people are sinking such vast amounts of money into something as frivolous as this. Heck, I wouldn’t spend this kind of money on a nice one. The staff here couldn’t possibly condone this kind of silliness, I hope, and there is truly something wrong if people think this kind of behavior is acceptable. Of course the bottom will fall out, but in the meantime, it’s a heck of a ride until it does.

        Like 10
      • Claudio

        I know that we are not to talk politics but in these worlwide hard times;its difficult to stay quiet !
        A rule for thee and a rule for me , is how they see it …
        Have a great day and lets not forget ; we only live once

        Like 6
  13. gbvette62

    This thing’s about 35 minutes from me. It’s also only about 10 minutes from Long Beach Island NJ, and the Atlantic Ocean. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it hauled a few surf boards around the island in the 60’s. I might even have hitched a ride in it back then. I bummed rides in all kinds of things on that island as a kid around 67-69. VW Kombi’s, a clapped out 57 Biarritz convertible, a 48 Pontiac Woody, a new 4 speed Grand Prix SJ, in the bed of a 60 El Camino, it was a lot of fun to be a long haired teenager, at the Jersey shore, in the 60’s.

    Like 20
  14. doug edwards

    I have an early bus which I traded for in 1986, essentially got it for free. I kept it and fixed it up. Ching !!!$$

    Like 6
  15. Hall-z Member

    If someone had the skills and tools, I wonder how much it would cost make this shell?

    Like 2
  16. Greg

    What a heap !! Need a tentius shot just from looking at it. Part it out.

    Like 2
  17. paul oberman

    That and 120k worth of work, will net you a 130k van. Not to mention 3 years of your life

    Like 5
  18. Martin Horrocks

    A VW bus or van was never a desirable car. But they became fashion statements and that´s why they command stupid amounts of money. Unfortunately, stupid and money are not always strangers to each other.

    The interesting thing would be, if someone takes it on, what would be the correct answer to “Wow! A Samba! Is it real?”. This restored Samba would be like George Washington´s axe that never belonged to George Washington….

    Like 5
  19. Jeremy

    I would’ve expected worse with the missing windows and top, but the interior metal is manageable. You can get EVERY piece of sheet metal for this bus, with no fabrication required. He’ll even sell you a brand new bus with his panels, sans drivetrain, for 33k. I estimate this bus will take 15k in sheet metal, 25k in labor, and another 15k to finish it. These are going for upwards of 150k restored. To the eventual buyer, send it to Cooker’s Vdubs in Maryland. He’s doing metal and paint on my 66 11-window bus.

    Like 6
  20. Geoff

    Speaking of VW busses and hippies.. My uncle gave me one of these for free. When I went to collect it, he couldn’t remember where he left it.. True story. Never did find it

    Like 8
    • Pierre

      Was it red and black? I think we just found it!

      Like 2
  21. Glenn C. Schwass Member

    More beat up than rusty which makes it easier to fix. Interesting color.

    Like 3
  22. Mark P

    @Montana, even before I read the text for the last photo where you said “this is kind of a sad picture” I thought the same thing, this photo and the other showing it from the side reminds me of a beaten puppy looking for help. I wouldn’t have the skills or money to fix it but I’d bring it home, put it on some plastic pallets off the ground and keep it comfortable as yard art. I actually did this with a lawn tractor, I’d bought a couple, one was repairable, one was too far gone. It was made by AMF the past Harley and bowling alley equipment company. It was cool looking, aluminum front grill and almost a deco look, it has a factory installed cigarette lighter on the dash. I was about to load it on the truck for scrap and then just did what I said above and it sits in front of the building on my property where I fix my trucks and tractors. I put solar LED’s in the PAR headlights that light up at night.

    Like 5
  23. bikefixr

    Some vehicles just deserve to die. Let this one die.

    • Howie Mueler

      I think it already died many years ago.

      Like 3
  24. Steve RM

    This van is not that bad. There are guys that specialize in building these, and all the body panels are available. Prices will drop in the future. Look at the prices of Model As and Ts. They’re cheaper now then they’ve ever been. That’s because the people who remember them from their youth are dying out. Also, a lot of the price increase in VWs is becuase buyers from Europe and Japan paying crazy money for the best examples.

    Like 4
  25. Karl

    Wow I do try to respect everybody’s idea of a project vehicle and we all have our reasons for thinking the way we do. This bus needs so much I can’t even imagine getting into anything like this!

    Like 2
  26. Graeme I

    ok, so assuming this gets restored, is it going to be an “original” Samba when virtually the whole vehicle is built up from reproduction parts?

    Like 4
    • Solosolo Solosolo Member

      Like most Model A Fords!

      Like 2
  27. flynndawg

    does it even have a trans or motor… ???

    Like 1

      All you have to do is to actually read the ad. “Rear chassis portion removed but included with mounted transmission and engine”.

  28. Dave Peterson

    Nostalgia has to be the motivator. Anyone who has driven one for any length of time would sensibly pass. I needed a car to get back to Idaho and bought a low mile example from Harvey Michaels in Mankato, Minnesota. I never drove one again. 1200 miles was a hard lesson to learn. Circa 1973.

    Like 2
  29. Allen Member

    I’m reminded of my dad’s old story about a guy who bought a bladeless knife with the handle missing.

    Like 4
  30. Jon G.

    My brother had a 27 window bus. Clock in the dash and bud vases. Full rag top sunroof. It was a 1957 I do believe. Only 27 window we ever saw. He had a 56 solid side bus and a 57 Ghia too. Mine was a 57 oval window deluxe sedan. It too had a full rag top sunroof. I paid $75 for it with the engine in 7 boxes. Took my brother 3 days to assemble and install the engine after work. I remember jumping up and down in the alley when it fired off first try. I learned a lot about driving in that car.

    Like 2
  31. Stevieg Member

    I never owned a VW of any sort from this era, but I have always wanted one. I am not about to start with this one lol.
    But one of the other comments said it will take about $55,000 to restore this. Maybe it is possible, I don’t know. If that is the case, knowing that they sell in the 6 digit range, this could be a bargain! I don’t have the knowledge to be the right buyer. I kinda wish I did. I had a lot of fun, made a lot of friends and a lot of money buying cars, fixing them up, driving them for a year or two, then selling them. I still do it, although now I am trying to concentrate on building my “permanent” collection.

  32. LMK Member

    It’ll probably get bought and it’ll get restored….Will it get bought for $22K or substantially less is anybodies guess and it doesn’t matter except to the seller and buyer. It’s a crazy and expensive hobby. I’ve personally trimmed my once modest collection down to 1 classic and that’ll be sold soon… I will just be watching from the sidelines for a bit…..

  33. Harold Griffin

    23 Window ? I count 5 windows & a bunch of holes!

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