Still Cool: 1972 VW Van

VW Van front 3

The rust bucket VW Bus we featured here a few days ago caught my attention, as it did for many of our readers. I know there is a well established hierarchy of values for old VW vans and buses based on age and features. But seeing the high prices going for what looks to me like literally a pile of rust, I wondered if it would be possible still to find a reasonably priced, relatively easily restorable bus or van. It didn’t take me long to find this very nice looking 1972 van here on craigslist in Manchester, Connecticut at the eye popping price of only $2,700.

VW Van side

Any VW that comes from New England will have had rust at some point in its life. This one looks decent, but there is likely rust under what looks like a relatively poor quality paint job someone put on it in the past. It’s not in the barn now, but I hope it was just taken out for pictures and not staying outdoors currently. The seller says it’s been stored in a barn for the last 15 yrs. It’s been started every year, but not driven or on the road regularly during that 15 year period of time. It has 125,022 showing on the odometer. That probably means the engine has been rebuilt at least once in its life. The engine compartment does look pretty clean too.

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The seller points out that this van has a “huge factory sunroof,” which is a very desirable option, and a manual transmission. The car even has a Connecticut title, which is not necessary here for cars over 25 years old.

VW van engine

The pictures make clear that the interior certainly needs work. The seller believes that his VW could just be driven the way it is (makes me wonder why it has been sitting for 15 years then), but my guess is that this is a candidate for a full on restoration, and why not? The 1972 models had a lot more power and handled better than their earlier bug based counterparts – though I do remember being blown completely across four lanes of traffic by a wind gust driving on the Bay Bridge from San Francisco to Berkeley in a similar van. With their slab sides and light weight, in a strong cross wind, it felt like being in a sailboat – only much less safe.

VW van front seats

There is a ton of information about VW vans and buses online. Here’s one of the good buying guides I found recently. At the price this seller is asking, his VW sure seems like a bargain. I hope someone will put it back on the road soon!

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Comments

  1. randy

    This one is short on years, rust and windows. I am very curious to see if it sells.

  2. Scott

    I want it, but I have to sell my 62 Beetle before I could get it

  3. nighttrainx03

    New that wouldn’t last ! already took a deposit. Yea it was ugly but way cheap if it wasn’t terrible underneath.

  4. Gearheadengineer

    It’s been kicking around the Hartford area CL for several weeks now. I wonder if the Barn Finds exposure finally made the sale.

    – John

  5. Bobsmyuncle

    I was going to claim that it’s a ’71 based on the front signals and front step bumper.

    While the rear tail lights throw that theory off its easier to change the latter than the former.

    Last possibility is that it’s a changeover mod but I’ve never seen or heard of that before.

    More importantly that huge sunroof is likely the hole left behind from the removal of the camper top. It’s really tough to confirm that with the available photos but I’m very confident that’s the case.

    The jalousie windows support my theory that it is a camper model.

    I’d be skeptical of any home made sunroof cover.

  6. piper62j

    Oh-oh! Here we go again with the VW Van.. At least it doesn’t have 23 windows.. Be interesting to see what the demand is and if it sells..

  7. NLCTVWguy

    It’s a decent looking bay window bus. I have a ’70 myself, in Connecticut, that I drive all the time. Haven’t seen this one around at the car shows so it would seem that the claim of long storage is true. There certainly aren’t a lot of “survivor” buses in the northeast. The big sunroof is a huge selling point. These don’t have the same class and style of the 1st generation buses, and will probably never get near the stratospheric prices, but they drive so much better and they’re still pretty simple vehicles. Find a solid, straight one and you won’t regret it. This is definitely a 72 model, it has the Type IV engine, the square rear upper vents, the fender lips, and still has low turn signals in the front. This is a sunroof model- that huge steel slider was an option in all buses including the base model Kombi’s. It’s not a camper, though someone has put in the jalousie crank open windows in the middle position. Cheap way to get into the vintage VW scene. But ask someone who knows a thing or two about them first.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      Steel slider doesn’t t have that indented profile does it?

    • Bobsmyuncle

      Just did some more research. So ’72 had low lights and the new integrated rear tail lights? I have never seen one. I’m a splittie guy but thought I would have known that.

      Just found a photo of the bus in question that I could blow up. The roof in that photo looks far more factory. If this IS a factory steel sunroof it is pretty special for a Bay Window perhaps only ‘one upped’ by a year earlier model.

  8. Rich

    That would have a “1” in front of the price, in £, over here. bargain.

  9. Jasper

    Damn. Typical Craigslist f

  10. Jasper

    Damn. Typical Craigslist fodder. Like three of these, usually in worse shape but listed indefinitely at similar pricing. I love these old buses and have family sentimental connections to them, but I’ll waste my dough elsewhere.

  11. George

    I had a ’72 Economy Camper. No sink, stove, or poptop. I even got it up to 74 mph once in a race with a Porsche 911. It was in traffic, and he eventually got blocked off by the other cars. So, I won! About 5 minutes later the traffic cleared and he went flying by. 10 minutes up the road he was on the side of the road stopped by a trooper. 125K doesn’t mean a rebuild on a Type 4. I had 140K on mine with only the replacement of a 45 cent part before the rust made it undriveable. The accelerator peddle rusted out and fell off and there wasn’t enough floor left to weld to. I did drive it for a while with a rope tied to the cable, but couldn’t get enough tension to get above 40. It did well for the $175 I paid for it and the $95 to have the nose pulled so that the headlights would point in the right direction.

  12. George

    The Jalousie windows make a big difference in getting enough airflow inside on a hot day.

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