V8 Swapped: 1965 VW Split-Window Bus

Near $50K is the asking price for this highly customized split-window Type 2 Volkswagen Bus. The seller is asking $48,500 for the van, which has been upgraded slightly with a transplanted Oldsmobile 350 V8 engine that sits midship on the Bus. With extensive modifications to the suspension and interior, the seller contends it is the best of both worlds, with lots of desirable options retained and the drivability significantly enhanced. Find the custom Bus here on craigslist in Austin, Texas, where the seller claims it’s offered for sale due to pending retirement.

The black and red two-tone paint job is a great look, and the seller is quick to point out that this Bus retains its extremely rare Jalousie louvered side window package. I have to admit, V8 swap aside, this and the roof rack are my favorite features of this Bus, and the seller is even including a spare louvered window to replace one if it gets broken. The Bus has an aggressive stance and sits on some gorgeous chrome Porsche Fuchs wheels, which are paired with air shocks on all four corners and disc brakes up front.

The interior has been significantly upgraded for comfort and eyeball appeal at the local car show. Fresh sound deadening material, LED lighting, new carpet everywhere, and iPod/GPS/Bluetooth connectivity can all be found inside the vintage Bus. High-back bucket seats have been added upfront, and all window and door seals have been replaced as well. The seller notes the Bus has a “custom-built” AC set up inside but that it still needs some final sorting, including the compressor installed in the engine bay.

The 350 V8, of course, is the real surprise, and the swap appears to have been well done. Engineering-wise, it seems like the seller thought this one through, with dual aluminum radiators, three electric fans, custom air scoops underneath and along the sides, and more to ensure the upgraded engine stays cool. The seller notes the V8 is paired to a conventional Turbo 350 three-speed automatic transmission, and that the Bus is more a cruiser than a flat-out hotrod. I suspect that’s fine with most folks, as driving a vintage Type 2 like this is already exciting enough.

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Comments

  1. canadainmarkseh Member

    Where to start..! I think the build quality looks great as does the finish work and detailing, but what do you do with it. Its not a two seater sports car in that it will never handle like one, so I guess it’s for the novelty affect. I still think if your going the custom route a 6 cylinder boxer engine is still the way to go. There are even a few to choose from. Even a transverse package out of a front wheel drive v6 car makes more sense. Nice build but to extreme for my liking.

    11
  2. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    I can’t wait to read Howard A’s comment on this one….

    8
    • Tony Primo

      Do you think this one will be fast enough for Howard (Rube)?

      5
    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      Looking forward to Howards comment. He never blows smoke and I like that. Going back to the Crown Royal with a Leinies wash and will wait for Howards input. Wishing all the BFers here a great and better new decade. Take care, Mike.

      9
    • Howard A Member

      Why is everybody looking at me? Oh, yeah, my one-sided views on these, well, here it is,,,I LIKE IT! The wheels kill it, but a cool ride. At 1st, I thought, how does a SBC run on it’s side like that, but any similarities between this and the “campmobile”, are strictly coincidental. Somebody stuck a TON of work into this thing and all that’s missing, is wheelie bars. I’m sure this could do it. Collectible as the campmobile? Probably not, someone looking for an original VW bus would never look at this, but for that one or 2 people that have everything, I could see someone actually using this, and hills? What hill?

      17
      • RayT Member

        I like it, too. This is one of the better examples of the “Hold My Beer” school of engineering I’ve seen. The builder seems to have thought things through — even has A/C! — and you could actually drive it as if it were a Real Car….

        The market is probably limited for it, but who cares? All it would take to make me happy is a “stock” paint job, different wheels and a slightly more restrained interior.

        In a way, it takes me back to my childhood, when car magazines featured guys dropping SBCs into VW Bugs, Nash Metropolitans and Renault Dauphines. This would have fit right in!

        6
      • Mike

        You had me going for a second there Howard! If you look at the actual Craigslist posting, you can see that the engine is indeed upright and sitting North/South, under a cover in the middle of the bus. Also, it’s not a small block Chevy, it’s a 350 Olds. Thanks for keeping me on my toes though lol!

  3. bobhess Member

    Why not? Good workmanship, fully finished out, probably fast, and probably a bunch of fun. I did think the 140 Covair ’55 was fast enough but this is really the next level. Love it!

    6
  4. chrlsful Member

    no room (w/that raised floor) needs a pop top to get some back?

    1
    • Al

      I once saw a 23 Window VW Bus, about as wrecked as this (ie. raised floor to hide a V8). What a waste!

      9
  5. jerry z

    Should have install an Olds Toronado engine to at least have some room in the mid section.

    5
  6. Dougie

    the epitome of “a fool’s errand”

    4
  7. Jay E.

    For 48 grand there at least ought to be a picture of it doing a burnout…

    5
  8. hatofpork

    Allright allright allright……

  9. sign guy

    My favorite feature is the dome light between the front seats – check it out!

    3
  10. Joe Haska

    I will never understand so many readers comments ,that are so negative to modified cars and the builders enginuuity and creativity. Especially when the project is done well ,as this bus. I also don’t get their rants that ,some rare piece of unobtainable metal has been destroyed and the universe will likely spiin off its axis. If it wasn’t for some of these creative people what would are automobiles look lik e today. Many of the advances in the history of the automobile started with shade tree mechanic’s and weekend racers ,creativity because they never thought they couldn’t do it or they would be critized for it!

    8
    • 38ChevyCoupeGuy

      I agree 100 percent. My theory is,these folks have never,and i mean never have used their brain,busted their knuckles,got 2hours of sleep several nights in a row,know nothing about oil clearance,couldn’t turn on a welder,think a gravity fed spray gun is upside down,these folks my friend,use their brain for one thing,that is every time they write a check to the next person who does any and every portion of their trailer queens😁 Cool VW for sure

      4
    • Mike

      I agree with you 100%. Would I be interested in buying something like this? No. But, anyone that’s actually taken a torch, sawzall etc. to anything should be able to appreciate the time, effort and engineering involved to put it all back together. Projects, no matter if it’s a vehicle or anything else, are normally done to the builders likes and tastes. However, any builder, whether they like this or not, should be able to appreciate it for what it is.

  11. John

    If lovin you is wrong I don’t wanna be right –

    1
  12. minicoopermk2

    Howard has a great question. How DOES the engine run on its side like that?

    2
    • canadainmarkseh Member

      It’s not the picture in question is a top Veiw. It tricked me too until I took a second look.

      3
      • minicoopermk2

        Duh. Donning my dunce cap…

        1
  13. DonC

    I’m loving the creativity and that they didn’t do it half-ass. That’s a creation, which is what makes it a collectible in it’s own right.

    Imagine showing up at Norwalk Raceway to run a 1/4 mile with this – just to see the looks on their faces.

    1
  14. Chebby Member

    This is not your father’s Oldsmobus.

    5
  15. AZVanMan

    I couldn’t buy it (without another divorce), but if the A/C worked I would drive it all over the country! Sure, a 911 turbo swap makes more sense from the start, but that would cost you 10 times what this Olds V8/350TH cost, and the work is done for you! I love the cab-over ride, and safety be damned!

    2
  16. Hal

    The bus is a great creation.
    I applaud the builder.

    3
  17. Car Nut Tacoma

    Awesome looking VW Bus custom. I’m not sure I’d install a V8 engine in the back. If it were my bus, I’d install a water-cooled boxer engine. Possibly a Subaru Outback boxer six engine.

  18. Gsuffa Gsuffa Member

    Looks like they retained the VW-size air filter on the V8.

  19. TimM

    Really a good quality build and I’m sure the man hours would be able to reflect the price!! A true labor of love!! Hard to not like what was done here!! Wonder if it handles at all with the extra motor weight???

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