What The? 1961 VW Short Bus

If you are looking for an instant attention-getter or conversation piece, check out this super short VW bus! It was supposedly built in California in the mid-1980s and spent a lot of time in Arizona after that. Currently located on the Oregon coast, it can be found here on Craigslist with an asking price of $8,500. While the body doesn’t look too great, as you’ll see, the chassis features a ton of quality components. Thanks to Terry C. for the tip on this short-short bus. Have a closer look at this feat of engineering!

Here’s an awesome example of a VW short bus. This one is from 1966 and sold for over $38,000 at Barrett-Jackson! It was built by the talented folks at Gas Monkey Garage in Dallas, Texas and the build was documented on the TV show Fast and Loud. It shows just how cool and unique this project could be.

Unfortunately, the ad says the bus doesn’t currently run, but it rolls and steers just fine. I’m not sure why the seller wouldn’t get the engine running, they say it is “just bolted in for transport for the new buyer.” Either way, this seems like a decent powerplant. It is a 1600cc single-port with only 3,000 miles since a rebuild. It is a 12-volt with a new fuel pump, vacuum advance distributor, carburetor, and coil. The ad also lists quite a few other parts that are new, which is a plus.

There aren’t too many photos of the interior. These VW’s are already pretty spartan and this one seems to be a little bit stripped down. The ad does say there are a few missing parts including the “T” handle for the back hatch, the front seat, and the horn button.

As mentioned before, the real story is under the bus. There are a few photos of the chassis including this one. The suspension has been completely re-done including components from KCW and Wide5. The brakes have also been done along with various bushings and axle work. Overall, this looks like a fun project to finish the way you want. What do you think?


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  1. Howard A Member

    “Haw, haw”,,I can just see it now, back in the 80’s, bunch of friends hanging out at a garage, possibly alcohol inspired, “Let’s chop the old bus in half, they’ll never be worth anything anyway”,,,As crazy as this VW bus attraction is, be almost worth it for someone to make it original again. As is, looks downright dangerous.

    Like 18
    • sir mike

      I think more than alcohol was involved.Why would anybody do this??

      Like 6
      • RayT Member

        Because they COULD?

        Like 8
      • JMB#7

        Ray said “because they could”, I am looking at the body work, and I say “they cannot”.

        Like 2
  2. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    When I was a kid, this is the bus that I would have rode on!

    Like 5
  3. Jwinters

    IT would tip over going around a corner!

    Like 4
    • Barry Traylor

      That short wheelbase would make scary in the corners, not to mention swerving to avoid an accident.

      Like 3
  4. Nick P

    The one gas monkey did was a hideous build. The roof was warped from welding so they stiffened it up and literally buried it in bondo. Spread it with a wallpaper tool. All of a few inches thick. Talk about one of these being tipsy. Throw 10 gallons of bondo on the roof and see how you fare.

    Like 9
    • Russell

      I also remember that episode … when it was finished the crew said it handled like a fueled dragster … anything other than a straight line… things got exciting.

      Like 1
  5. ILoveCarz

    Seriously,guys! Cut the safety talk and just enjoy the fun factor!

    Like 9
    • Cal

      Fun for sure until your a quadriplegic stuck in the nursing home awaiting MR Covid to knock on your door. I would stick with standard engineering designs, those boys were pretty smart. (Bet they all sat at the front of the class and answered all of teachers questions with an enthusiastic smile unlike the rest of us lurking in the shadows with our heads down hoping not to be called on.)

      Like 7
  6. Rex Kahrs Member

    On the bright side, the entire bus can be lowered into the grave with the unfortunate occupants still inside.

    Like 8
  7. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    For years, there was one of these prominently displayed at an Orlando repair shop.


    Like 3
    • Dave

      There’s one in Bonita Springs, FL too.

  8. steve

    With the current market prices for VW vans and the price for rusty shells getting stupid, I can’t help think that this would be a cheaper and simpler “repair” to put it back to original than the buses which are missing all the sheet metal below the windows.

    Like 1
  9. Jimmy

    We attended a rte. 66 car show a few years back in Litchfield, IL. there was one of these at the show and I must admit it looked amazing. Could be because the bodywork / paint and interior were all done in a professional manner. It was red on the bottom half and light silver on the top half. Not my kind of vehicle but that doesn’t matter to me if I see something that looks to be different but done right.

    Like 2
  10. Givengold

    There is one of these at a used car lot in Oakdale, CA. Red, I haven’t stopped to look at it, but it is a novelty.

  11. 433Jeff

    Im pretty sure some of the shortened busses can pull the wheels. I think its really cool. Even if there was a “What was I thinking “ moment after

    Like 1
  12. Maestro1 Member

    Slow way down in the corners. It’s strange and wonderful.

    Like 1
  13. Steve

    If you lose control it will bounce around like a football!

    Like 1
  14. Bob Mck Member

    I’ll pass…

  15. Chopper king

    What a bunch of winers,I rode a hard tail stretched girder panhead from San Francisco to Atlanta when I was 50, I’d drive that bus to New York right now,just don’t drive over your head. That’s what hot cars and bikes are about

    Like 5

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