Patina Panel: 1978 Volkswagen Bus

This 1978 Volkswagen Bus is a Mexican market example, part of the crop of Buses produced south of the border in concert with German-built models. When sales of the Type 2 ended in the U.S., VW’s operations in Mexico continued to produce the iconic Bus, and this one likely traveled up to California at some point and became a permanent resident. The Bus is sold with a few disclosed issues including rust in the roof channels and a broken fuel filler neck. Find it here on eBay with bids just over $3K and no reserve.

The Bus is clearly one of the more bare bones / utilitarian models, as evidenced by its painted panels in lieu of actual windows on the side. The bodywork actually looks fairly sound despite the rust issues disclosed in the roof, which the seller notes also extends to around the perimeter of the windshield. The painted black bumpers further round out the commercial delivery van / courier look, and while it’s no Westfalia, there’s an inherent charm about a bare-bones workhorse like this.

The interior continues with the theme, and I believe the Mexican-built models had some updates to the cabin that made the Bus feel more modern inside. I couldn’t tell you what those changes were off the top of my head, but I know the Mexican-built models continued on with the original design for decades, which necessitated making some basic refinements to the interior to ensure it didn’t feel as archaic as the outside design. The driver’s seat is pretty well torn up, and it looks like the bench is split unevenly, which I can’t recall seeing in U.S. models.

The seller notes this Bus cannot be sold in California due to some of its smog equipment being deleted, which is potentially a good thing for buyers who live in markets not as closely regulated as California is. Most of the time, those 70s-era smog systems provided minimal gains in efficiency with a substantial loss in performance. Regardless, bidding is cheap at the moment for this interesting Type 2, which will need a new gas tank at some point before the next owner travels too far with it. Would you spring for a stripped-down utility van like this or hold out for a loaded-up Westy?


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  1. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    Drove a similar panel van all over the streets of Dublin back in the early ’70s delivering paper products, a job I had just before I came back to the states. These are fun to drive and economical as well as providing privacy when you took the girlfriend out and went parking (an activity I engaged in frequently). This one might have limited appeal because it’s a panel van as opposed to the more popular people mover with side glass and seats. It would be perfect for a small business delivery van with fresh paint and your name splashed all over the sides. Think of how cool it would be for a pot store with a flower-power paint job!

    Like 4
    • Little_Cars

      How ’bout a faux florist shop emblazoned along the sides? Certainly the cost of admission is far lower than that 1958 Samba from yesterday for 5 figures.

      Like 2
  2. Stevieg

    Cool van! I seem to want them all, don’t I lol?
    What I like about this one is that it is a panel van. You just don’t see them like this in the US.

    Like 4
  3. Todd Van Winkle

    Love It! Not a particular fan of bay window busses, but I’m a sucker for Panel vans! I’d enjoy it! Big on the cool factor scale…

    Like 2
  4. Steve H.

    Is it just me or is the windshield shot? No mention in the ad but it appears to me that it has spider web cracks all thru it?

  5. Steve H.

    Nevermind. The “cracks” are nothing more but a bush visible in the background lol. Move along nothing to see here.

    Like 1
  6. Jack Quantrill

    Saw a brand new standard Beetle in a Ensenada VW dealership a whiles back. $1,000,000 Pesos, about 8,000US, asking price. I said any problem bringing it back to USA? Salesman said: “oh no senor, just drive it over the border! Haha.

    Like 3
  7. Mitch Ross Member

    The salesman was correct, no problem bringing it in, just no way to register it if it is less than 25 years old. I know of people who drive classic cars with <mexican plates in the US. Not a big deal if you only use it occasionally

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