Samba Puzzle: 1965 VW 21 Window Bus

Have you been dreaming of owning a 21 window VW Bus? Here’s your chance, and there are advantages to buying one that is in pieces. For one, the significant other won’t notice if you bring it home a bit at a time. If stacked neatly it will take up much less room than a fully assembled van. And you can always display a section of it on a wall in the living room! This sad puzzle of a van listed on eBay in Bryson City, North Carolina is still waiting for an opening bid of $5,000. It would appear that this old van sat rusting away, then a tree fell on it and finished it off.

There are lots of new pieces included along with the remains of the van. It’s hard to picture it as a completed vehicle, but with enough imagination, you can almost see it.

Here’s the “Auto Twirler” rotisserie supplied to help with assembly. It also needs assembly.

Here is the right side of the van, nothing like the usual picture you expect to see.

The seller has done a lot of work and spent lots of money rounding up parts for his van. Do you think there is enough here to begin to make this a viable project or is all this just good for parts? Twenty-one window vans sell for silly money, well into six figures, but is this pile of pieces a practical place to begin? There are still many bits left to find and purchase. It will be interesting to see what you think.

Fast Finds


  1. Jeff Staff

    Officially has one bid. Someone will be committed to buying this and figuring out how to get it home.

    How nutty is this statement: if you’re a handy metalworker / fabricator, could you buy this for $5K, handle transport yourself, and still come out ahead? No idea, asking for real thoughts/opinions when you consider the prices these are selling for.

  2. Pharmag8r

    I want a Samba bad and I love puzzles but even I wouldn’t take this one on.

  3. Tom Member

    I don’t know anything about these vans but I know VW’s didn’t change much back then SO is the marriage made in heaven of being the “parts kit” for that clapped out swiss cheese “62 Jersey Looker – 23 window”? all be it that the 62 23 window only really needed one thing……..”EVERYTHING”!!

    • RichS

      Ran when parked – Only needs A/C recharge. No joy rides, I know what I have.

  4. doug

    It’s a little late for April Fools.

  5. doug6423

    It seems like a lot less work to just redo the roof of a nice donor and transfer the vin plates. And whatever would be needed to make the donor become the 21 window gem it is supposed to be. Sell unused sheet metal and other items to the next person.

  6. edh

    Holy crap!

    • mxb

      Holy Scrap!

  7. JamestownMike


  8. Howard A Member

    This just gets better and better. ( in sad sort of way) I suppose you could make something out of this ( How come MY Samba doesn’t look like the rest of them?)( 1st prize!!) Bottom line, this, apparently, is all that’s left to restore.

  9. RichS

    I got it one piece at a time – and it cost me a crapton of dimes

    • Metoo

      You can sneak it home in your lunch box.

      • RichS

        Small enough I could hide it from the wife!

  10. Dave Member

    Doug, I swear I was just gonna say that!

    • Edward

      Oh honey! What’s this $5K debit on the statement? We should call the bank immediately!……

  11. rustylink

    Looks like his project suffered a little scope creep.

  12. wuzjeepnowsaab

    Wow is about all I can say. The prices these bring leaves me gob-smacked

  13. JW454

    I’m not sure Volkswagen could even put this back together?

    Considering what they are selling for, I bet they wish they could slip a “few” into the market.

    • JW454

      Might as well call this one “Humpty Dumpty”.

  14. CowboyChris

    Like the late great Rick James once said “cocaine’s a hell of a drug”

  15. Dan

    I dunno…might be kinda fun. No different than the models I used to build.

    • RichS

      *puts giant glue thumbprint in the middle of the windshield* DANGIT!!!

  16. Glen

    I wonder what the parts are worth, and the rotisserie. There may be money to be made here, especially if you live close and transport it home cheaply.

    • Pharmag8r

      I thought about that too. I said I wouldn’t take it but honestly if my husband wouldn’t kill me I’d probably would give it a try.

      • Glen

        Live on the edge, go for it !!!

  17. Dave Wright

    I am surprised it isn’t a “Barn Finds Exclusive”

  18. Tom Member

    VW defined for this one….Virtual Wagon…or Wish or Wreck or???

  19. KevinW

    Wait for it.. the perfect candidate for an LS! I kid.

    • RichS

      An LS powered rotisserie, now that would be something! You get enough centrifugal force, the rust will just FLY off!

    • ACZ

      Mid-mounted LS?

  20. sir mike

    It’s hard to believe someone actually starting collecting parts to attempt to rebuild this mess…

  21. Joe Nose

    Like the Jeep that Radar shipped home from Korea, one piece at a time.

  22. Michael thomas

    reminds me of my old ERECTOR SET . I could make anything with it. This should be a piece of cake.

  23. Fogwerks

    All it needs is the step-by-step instructions, like a model kit?

  24. Bob Hess

    As a welder, if I had a space as big as this guy has, putting a little time into it each day would be fun. Most of my “frame ups” were difficult because they were one big lump you had to work around. This one you have all the space you need to do the work much easier.

  25. John H

    Wow, just wow!

    This looks like something I may have considered when I was 20 — and hopefully someone would have talked me out of it. Since I’m now north of 60, this is one puzzle I wouldn’t get completed in my lifetime. Hell, if I had started at 20 I probably wouldn’t get it finished.

    And along with all of the “assembly required” bits and pieces, the panels salvaged from the poor thing all need major metal work.

    It would be fascinating if someone took this on and kept a running blog of the restoration process, just to help bring some others back to earth when they dream of driving off into the sunset in their personal work in progress.

    I wish I still had a few of the VWs that passed through my hands when I was in my 20s. I can remember a 1962 and 64 bug, at least one other pre-gas-gauge bug, a 1962 ( I think ) Karmann. The Karmann and one of the bugs got new noses and floor pan work after minor accidents, paint touched up and sold for a 1970s-era profit. There were plenty of other assorted oddballs that used to follow me home, too.

    • Fred W.

      John H, I had a few back in the day also, a T boned ’63 bug that I drove in the woods at breakneck speed, a ’68 Bug with the requisite Pioneer 8 track deck, and a now rare ’63 Type 3 Notchback. Never owned or drove a VW bus until a few weeks ago.

  26. IanW

    Lends a whole new meaning to the response, “It is still in pieces at the moment” when asked how the repairs are coming along!

  27. hans grafftenberg

    As a young guy with lots of ambition and a welder, I would take this project on. Not everybody has six figures to spend on the car of their dreams. Some of us have to start with what everyone else discards and start from there. I’m not saying it would be a 100 point car when I was finished but I could proudly say it was mine and I saved it from being wall art. Would make a great story at cruise-ins.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi hans, BINGO!!! With photos of it’s progress, it would be the talk of the show.

  28. Loco Mikado

    Send it down to Cuba to be restored. Bet you those guys could put it back together cheap and would be tickled to make a few bucks. They keep 60-70 year old cars together in a warm moist salt laden air.

  29. Skloon

    Soon to be seen at The Beverly Hills car club

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