Auction Watch – 1963 23-Window “Samba” VW Bus Brings $117,000

Whether you like auctions or not, they’re a good finger-on-the-pulse barometer of what hot rods and kustoms are selling for. Each week, our “Auction Watch” column here at Rod Authority brings you some of the coolest cars and trucks offered around the country from some of the biggest and most recognized auction houses.

This week we’re checking out a beautiful, panoramic VW people mover that recently sold at Barrett-Jackson in Las Vegas. These old buses have gone crazy with values soaring into the stratosphere. Finds such as this one tend to bring big money at the auction block and this one was no exception and when the gavel fell, it sold for $117,000 with no reserve.

Air-cooled VWs are seemingly evergreen and everyone has a story about one. Your humble author learned to drive a manual transmission on a blue, 1967 Beetle with a white interior. It was the last year for “bow tie”  bumpers, all-metal dashboard and no headrests. It was easy to “snick” for an unauthorized ride too as it’s light weight made it easy to push down the drive way and into the night.

In fact, I remember such a midnight cruise and wondering who was following me block after block.  At a stop light, I realized it was my mother in our Plymouth station wagon.  Her face was illuminated by the dashboard light and she was furious to say the least.  There was hell to pay back at the house.  Wish I still had that car.

Meanwhile over in Las Vegas, check out this Samba Bus and what it brought.

According to Barrett-Jackson, “Lot #714 – This 1963 Volkswagen 23-window bus strikes as a lovely balance between old-world charm and modern-day equipment. Presented in a traditional two-tone yellow and white color combination, this old bus rolls on 17” Budnik wheels and an adjustable suspension system.
Powered by a twin-carburetor 120hp horizontally opposed 2110cc 4-cylinder engine with a Freeway Flyer 4-speed manual transmission. The power is kept in check with 4-wheel disc brakes. Equipped with Safari front and rear windows and a vintage-style roof rack, this bus is fitted with a TMI interior of tan, white and light brown complementing and offsetting the exterior color scheme.
This VW is packed with the subtle custom touches inside and out. Officially known as the Samba, or Sunroof Deluxe, these 23-window vans were first introduced in 1951 and marketed as the plushest people mover available from Volkswagen. They featured pivoting side doors as opposed to the sliding unit, a fabric sunroof and, of course, all of the windows providing a panoramic view.
$117,000 for a VW bus?  Yes indeed. I’ll be there are a lot of hippies out there who wish they treated their old bus better, huh?
Be sure and stay tuned to Rod Authority for it’s ongoing column “Auction Watch,”  See you next time.

About the author

Dave Cruikshank

Dave Cruikshank is a lifelong car enthusiast and an Editor at Power Automedia. A zealous car geek since birth, he digs lead sleds, curvy fiberglass, kustoms and street rods. He currently owns a '95 Corvette, '76 Cadillac Seville, '99 LS1 Trans Am and big old Ford Van.
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