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Special Order: 1971 Volkswagen Deluxe Sunroof Bus

The “Bay Window” Volkswagen Bus is another one of those vehicles that has developed a strong following in the classic community. They offer incredible versatility, and their mechanical configuration has made them virtually invincible. This 1971 Deluxe Bus is an original survivor, and it features enough seats to cater to the largest family. The original owner also ordered it with the factory sliding sunroof, which makes it a rare classic. The owner has decided that the time is right to part with the VW, so they have listed it for sale here on eBay. It is located in Sunnyvale, California, and is ready to be driven and enjoyed by its lucky new owner.

When I looked at the photos of this VW and was contemplating how to describe it, the word that kept popping into my head was “honest.” The owner admits that the previous owner treated the vehicle to a repaint in its original combination of Kansas Beige and Pastel White in the 1980s, and this still presents well today. It holds a shine that would manage to turn heads wherever the vehicle went, which is not a bad achievement for a paint job that is more than 30-years-old. The panels wear an assortment of minor dings and dents, but there’s nothing that would demand immediate attention. The buyer could choose to drive and enjoy the VW during the warmer months and then occupy the depths of next Winter, getting the panels straight again. There are also a couple of minor rust bubbles, but I would tackle them when I performed the minor dent repairs. It is worth noting that the Bus has spent its life in California, which means that rust is not something to be concerned about. The owner supplies photos of the vehicle’s underside, and it is as clean as you could ever hope to find. One of the greatest attractions of this Bus is the inclusion of the factory sliding sunroof. These were a relatively rare item, and it is becoming increasingly challenging to locate one today. The owner says that this one currently doesn’t operate and that it may require cables and servicing. Genuine replacement cables are no longer available, but some excellent reproduction components are available out in the market. The trim appears to be in good condition, and I can’t spot any problems with the vast expanses of glass.

The person who buys this Bus won’t need to expend a lot of time and effort on the interior, because it presents nicely. It has recently received new foam and covers on the front seats, while the rear seats look excellent. The remaining trim is spotlessly clean, as are the dash and floor mats. There is room to seat seven people in comfort, and there’s still space available to cart a significant amount of luggage. The dash houses a radio/cassette player, and there are speakers for this mounted in the doors. Otherwise, it all appears to be original and unmolested. One extra positive with this vehicle is that the heater works well. I’ve lost count of how many classic Volkswagens I’ve come across in my lifetime with ineffective heaters, so that’s a massive plus for any potential buyers residing in cooler climes.

The owner supplies no engine photos, but we know that the VW is powered by the “upright” dual-port air-cooled four with a capacity of 1,584cc. This would be producing around 60hp, which finds its way to the rear wheels via a 4-speed manual transaxle. Once again, the news here is very positive. The owner has recently performed a service on the vehicle, and it is said to run and drive exceptionally well. It appears that this two-owner classic has been treated with care and respect since it was new, and that means that with 91,000 miles on the clock, it could be considered to be barely broken in. It is also worth noting that the 1971 model year was the first where front disc brakes were standard fitment for the safety-conscious amongst you. This significantly improved emergency stopping distances and made extended descents less of an issue than might be expected with the old 4-wheel drum brakes. There’s nothing like tackling a long and twisting downhill run to the smell of cooking brake linings and a pedal that feels like you’re treading on a sponge. Neither of these problems should be an issue with this classic.

For many years, people ignored the Bay Window VW Bus in preference to its Split Window predecessor. That situation has changed, and we now find a situation where vehicles like this have become highly desirable. This has pushed values ever higher, and there’s no indication that this trend is set to change. These may not be the fastest people mover on the planet, but they are easy to maintain, notoriously bulletproof, and extraordinarily versatile. They also happen to be a blast to own and drive, and it is for those reasons, I believe that this one will find a new home pretty quickly. Could that home be yours?


  1. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    My first job out of high school was delivering paper supplies in the grand old city of Dublin, Ireland. I drove a VW cargo van similar to this one and it was a fun vehicle to tool around in. Of course, it was right hand drive with a 4-speed and fairly spartan inside but it was just a delivery van. I really enjoyed using it on the weekends for “parking” on Killiney beach with my beautiful Irish lassie! This VW van looks like a good one that you could enjoy as-is and at some point, have a little body work done as funds permit. It will be interesting to see what it finally sells for.

    Like 7
  2. Steveo

    I dunno…if you have to resort to reproducion sunroof cables, is it really worth the effort?

    Like 1
  3. Fred W

    Should have held on to the ’78 I bought 3 years ago. Paint and body was already done, didn’t run. Learned to work on fuel injection, got it running, did a quickie interior, sold a good running bus for 5K.

    Like 2
  4. Mikefromthehammer

    The biggest downside to a VW bus? The driver is the front “crush zone”.

    Like 2
    • Erik

      Still more “protection” driving a VW Bus than riding a motorcycle.

      Like 5
  5. Jeff

    Best vehicle ever built – IMHO!
    Got a 68 model, same sunroof, deluxe trim – since 1994, never let me down.
    Bought it for $800, running and driving.

    Good luck to the new owner!

    Like 6
  6. Jcs

    0 to 60?
    0 to 80?

    Like 0
    • steve

      0-60 is do-able..
      0-80 time depends on how long it takes to climb to altitude before shoving it out the aft cargo door..

      Like 8
  7. steve

    I dont know about the cables but these things had a sunroof issue.You see, the moving panel doesnt actually seal when closed. It isnt supposed to. Instead, the water which passes inside is collected in internal gutters and then, through drain hoses in each corner, the water exits to the rocker panels. That all depends on those hoses being OPEN and not clogged.
    When clogged there is a LARGE amount of water “stored ” in the area of the rear roof section. Hit the brakes going downhill..I was test-riding in a gal’s bus and she hit the brakes..I saw it coming and crunched up into the far front corner. SHE got it ALL. Her kids on the backseat and behind the “waterfall” were delighted and were cheering for a replay..her? Not so much…

    Like 5
  8. Trevor

    These prices got driven way out of control!
    1) A split window bus demand a very high price borderline ridiculous, In 2010 I owned a 67 21 window
    2) American pickers has brought this to the main stream, every Tom, Dick, and Harry that owns a bus thinks it’s worth it’s weight in gold even though there’s nothing special about it!

    I do enjoy driving them having owned about a dozen air cooled Volkswagens and one 1970 Porsche 911 over the years, majority of them are slow/ crude and you smell like a Zamboni machine once you get out of it, so it’s hard to drive it to any sort of professional job/ or go on a date!

    Like 1
  9. Mountainwoodie

    As a former owner of numerous Westphalia and 21 window split window busses I have to admit I am perplexed by the “market” value of the ’68 and forward busses….though haviing a sunroof is desirable.

    The only answer is the old saw about the market and what it will bear. Still…money aint worth what it used to be :)

    A very nice and yes , honest looking bus……points for the original blue plates for those of us obsessed with that particularly California centric marque of originality. But its basically driving around in a wind tunnel. I guess if you have enough kids.it beats a mini van in the retro hipness quotient!

    Like 1
  10. karl

    I remember as a kid going by our local VW dealership at least twice a week ; they were always a fleet of Beetles and Buses there, and a few Karmann Ghias .I cant imagine someone would have had to or want to order one just for a sunroof when there were so many on the lot. Other than the roof it looks like every other bus; I’d bet it was a dealer ordered (maybe by mistake) and it was just another on the lot purchase

    Like 1
  11. Steve R

    Sold for a high bid of $20,100.

    Steve R

    Like 0

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