“It’s not a car… it’s a Bus” – a morning spent discovering VW type 2 transporters and a couple surprises at the O.C.T.O 2015 Winter Meet

“It’s not a car… it’s a BUS – definitely a 1960s marketing slogan from Volkswagen, and given my surroundings Saturday morning February 14th, there was no mistaking that I was entering into a sea of Volkswagen transporters (buses).

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Held each year at the Long Beach Veterans Memorial Stadium in Long Beach, California, it’s always a morning of discovery, and an opportunity to hear the back stories behind the vehicles on display. The irony of this years O.C.T.O. Winter Meet was that given the clear blue skies and summer like temperatures being experienced in February, this could have easily passed as a summer meet.

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Another of my favorite subjects to photograph…”automotive opthomology”

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A return visit by a husband and wife pair of 21 window buses; the wife’s bus below…

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and her husband’s blue 21 window parked to the drivers right (below). It has been interesting to watch the progress made from year to year on this dual restoration effort.

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At the opposite end of the restoration spectrum was this early 1960s type 2 bus. Unfortunately, this bus was a painful reminder of the effects of time and exposure to the elements, as seen below.

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Given the extent of the rust, it was amazing that the roof and its body parts were still connected. However, upon closer inspection, it became obvious that the roof had assistance in the form of strategically placed sheet metal screws.

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In stark contrast and one row away, was another example of a beautifully restored type 2, in brilliant turquoise and white…

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and wearing a rather interesting license plate.

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Representing one of the model variations found within the type 2 transporter category, was this 1967 two-tone, dual-cab seen below.

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If one looks closely, there are frequently clues to be found which aid in revealing a vehicles true identity.

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(Below), one of several single-cabs present, but the sole participant carrying special cargo.

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Another of the beautifully restored, 21 window safari type 2s in attendance; brilliant blue on white…

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and several rows over, a second 21 window safari, dressed in orange over white.

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One never knows what extremes an owner will go to, in order to personalize his/her bus as witnessed below.

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(Below), one of my favorite type 2s in this years show. While photographing this bus, I was   approached by the owner and we struck up a conversation.  During our discussion, I learned that this 1961 bus had originally been owned by his grandfather, who purchased it back in 1963, and then used it as his daily driver. Many years later, and with the passing of his grandfather, he inherited the bus, and then proceeded to store it away in his garage. It ended up sitting there untouched, awaiting restoration for 18 years. With his kids graduated from college, he decided to finally tackle the restoration of the bus, with the majority of the restoration work having been completed by the owner himself.

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The owner continued his story, sharing the memories that he and his brother had, of vacationing with their grandfather, and how hot they were sitting in the back of the bus during the summer. Because of the heat factor, the owner decided to added a set of  safari front windows. He also shared stories of his grandfather driving the bus into mexico to his ranch, traversing dirt roads and creeks along the way, with evidence of these adventures uncovered during the buses restoration. Looking at the bus on that Saturday morning, it was hard to believe that it had not lived a pampered life.

Below, the bullet shaped front turn signal, identifying this type 2 bus as a 1961 model.

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Far from the stock motor that the bus was delivered with back in 1961.

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Once the restoration was complete, the owner unveiled the bus at their yearly family reunion, to the surprise of many relatives. The bus became the inspiration for a project his wife began; collecting and recording in written from, the stories from their many relatives with memories of grandpa’s bus.

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Parked on the perimeter of the display area were several unique Volkswagen cars… not Buses, as seen below.

First up was one cool Karmann Ghia…

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and parked on the opposite side of the parking lot; a beautifully restored VW Notchback.

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Saturday morning reflections…

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With this kind of weather and impressive turnout for the O.C.T.O. Winter Meet, one can only imagine what the O.C.T.O. Summer show will deliver.

(All photos by the author)

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A look inside O.C.T.O.’s Winter Swap and Display meet for 2013, or dreams of VW Type 2 Transporter ownership…

Like swallows returning to the Mission in San Juan Capistrano, Saturday, February 23 witnessed the return of the O.C.T.O. (Orange County Transporters Organization) Winter Meet, Swap and Display to Veteran’s  Stadium in Long Beach California.

This year marks my second time attending this event, and I’m sure there were a lot of other people who like myself, came with aspirations of VW Type 2 ownership. And just like last years event, there was a parking lot filled with the prospect of amazing vehicles to suit just about any taste.

And there’s nothing quite like the sense of anticipation, as one approaches a parking lot filled with nothing but Type 2 Transporters as far as the eye can see..

Dove Blue Chick Iverson Panel van_OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

White safari windowed & sunroofed Type 2_OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

Single cab and double cab row (below)…

Single and double cab row_OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

A beautifully restored, Dove Blue single cab wearing DunnTech Motorsports graphics…

DunnTech Motorsports Dove Blue single cab _OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

DunnTech Motorsports single cab _Door graphic & reflections _OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

and its equally impressive engine compartment and detailed motor.

DunnTech Motorsports single cab _motor _OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

A pair of “his and hers” buses (below). His – a two-toned copper and white, 1964 deluxe, and Hers -a 1967, blue and white 21 split window…

His & Hers 1964 & 1967 Type 2's _OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

Another two toned, safari windowed bus, representing the “Oil Drippers” car club.

Two toned "Oil Drippers " club  Type 2 _OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

Two toned "Drippers " club  Type 2 _Rear window graphic_OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

Another of the current automotive trends is matte finish paint. Below are some of the Type 2’s in attendance wearing matte paint finishes, in both monochrome and two-toned schemes.

Matte Orange bus_front view_OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

Matte black & tan bus_3/4 front view_OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

Matte lime green panel van_3/4 front view_OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

Matte tan Type 2_side view_OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

Parked amongst its normal proportioned peers, was this  blue “Shorty” bus, a post 1955 vintage panel van; a very well executed modification, with one very short wheelbase…

Blue Shorty panel van_3/4 front view_OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013
Blue Shorty panel van_3/4 rear view_OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

Another beautifully restored, two toned Type 2 bus…

Two toned cream & black Type 2_3/4 front view_OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

complete with safari front windows and side pop-outs (above & below).

Two toned cream & black Type 2_ front view_OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

Classic banjo styled steering wheel and custom upholstered interior.

Two toned cream & black Type 2_interior /dash view_OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

And out back, an unexpected surprise: a custom turbocharged motor.

Two toned cream & black Type 2_turbocharged motor_OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

In stark contrast, and located several rows over, was this Dove Blue single cab with its OG finish, yet sporting a set of polished, Porsche Fuchs 5 spoke alloy wheels.

Dove Blue single cab w/OG paint _side view_OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

Dove Blue single cab w/OG paint _polished Porsche 5 spoke ally wheel detail_OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

And no Type 2 show would be complete without at least one pre 1955 bus, in the classic two-toned color combination of Chestnut Brown over Sealing Wax Red.

1950's vintage 2 toned chestnut brown and sealing wax red Type 2_3/4 front view _OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

An example of the rare, European fluted headlight lens (above & below)…

1950's vintage 2 toned chestnut brown and sealing wax red Type 2_headlight detail _OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

1950's vintage 2 toned chestnut brown and sealing wax red Type 2_hubcap reflections _OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

One of my personal favorites from the show was this amazing, 1958 Dove Blue single cab (as seen below).

1958 Dove Blue single cab_3/4 front view_OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

1958 Dove Blue single cab_front license plate detail_OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

Another example of the very cool European fluted headlight lens.

1958 Dove Blue single cab_headlight lens detail_OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

This particular single cab was fully equipped with safari front windows, a single driving light, wood slat roof rack and rear bed rack…

1958 Dove Blue single cab_3/4 front view-drivers side_OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

A beautifully restored interior, right down to its three spoke steering wheel…

1958 Dove Blue single cab_dash detail_OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

And once again, another Type 2 wearing a set of polished Porsche Fuchs 5 spoke alloy wheels, but in this case running a wider wheel set up front, instead of the traditional (narrower) 4-1/2″ X 15″, 5 spoke wheels.

1958 Dove Blue single cab_polished alloy wheel detail_OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

Period correct details, right down to the combined brake light / tail lights, and rear and side gates with the stamped panel reinforcement details…

1958 Dove Blue single cab_3/4 rear view_OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

1958 Dove Blue single cab_ rear engine lid reflections_OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

Another of the beautifully restored, mid 1960’s vintage, two-toned buses, fitted with dual wooden slat roof racks and wrapped in a flawless, mirror like paint finish, perfect for reflecting its surroundings.

Two toned wine red and white Type 2_3/4 front view w/side reflections_ OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

As the license plates notes (see below), this is another 1966 vintage, two toned bus (Velvet Green over Pearl White), fit with a pair of fully functioning Safari front windows and side pop outs. Equally impressive is knowing the amount of time needed to produce these type of visual results and flawless paint finishes as displayed.

Two toned green and white Type 2_3/4 front view w/side reflections_ OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

The second of my favorite buses from the show was this spectacular 1966 model (as seen below), complete with front safari windows and its unique two toned paint. The owner  when asked about the paint colors, shared with me that he had stayed brand loyal, and specified a 2004 VW color for the pale blue lower panels, and a 2009 VW color for the pale cream panels (nose, roof and dash).

1966 Two toned blue & cream white Type 2_front view_ OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

Seeing this bus, and appreciating all of the hard work and efforts put into creating such stunning results, is what provides inspiration for those of us with dreams of Type 2 Transporter ownership.

1966 Two toned blue & cream white Type 2_3/4 front view_ OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

This unique color palette even carried over into the interior, with the owner using a light tan upholstery, complemented by the light cream colored piping accents found on the seating.

1966 Two toned blue & cream white Type 2_interior & dash_ OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

Another perfect choice of wheels as seen below; Polished Porsche 5 spoke Fuchs alloys, mounted front and rear.

1966 Two toned blue & cream white Type 2_Polished Porsche alloy wheel_ OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

1966 Two toned blue & cream white Type 2_Rear view_ OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

1966 Two toned blue & cream white Type 2_3/4 side view_ OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013
And for the finishing touch; a dash mounted hula girl, serenading and watching over the occupants…

1966 Two toned blue & cream white Type 2_dash mounted hula girl_ OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

On the way back to my car, I happened to pass by this pale gray colored single cab, and in the process, caught a glimpse of a silvery object resting in the rear bed.

Pale gray Type 2 single cab_3/4 front view_ OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

As I approached, It quickly became apparent that the silver object in the rear bed was in fact a scaled down version of a Porsche 550 Spyder.

Pale gray Type 2 single cab_silver Porsche 550 Spyder model in bed_ OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

After talking with the owner, I learned that this single seat replica was in fact an electric-powered, and potentially a very cool ride for a small child.

Pale gray Type 2 single cab_w/ silver Porsche 550 Spyder , 3/4 rear view in bed_ OCTO 2013 Winter show_February 23, 2013

And what an ironic way to wrap up my morning spent at the O.C.T.O. Winter meet;  at the weekly car show that I usually attend, there is a high percentage of Porsches in attendance, with a handful of vintage VW’s present, and now here at an all VW Type 2 show, what should I encounter but a scaled down replica of a Porsche 550 Spyder.        Go figure…

(All photos by the author)

The one that got away…

While out driving this past weekend, I happened to come across a beautifully restored example of a1961 VW, 23 window bus, out for a drive in its glowing sealing wax red / beige gray paint scheme. I recognized this bus from a recent car show and when I returned home, searched through my digital files and found a shot of the same bus that I had just seen earlier that afternoon.

1961 type 2 VW bus

This brief encounter got me to thinking about a time back in the early 1990’s, when I had the opportunity to pick up a 1965 VW type 2 panel van from a friend I worked with for  $500. He had already begun the restoration; the body work had been completed, and the  entire van was now covered in gray primer. The suspension had been rebuilt  and the  bus had been lowered, and sat on stock wheels. There was no motor, however I did not see that as a problem.  Since the van still had its original transmission, I would just need to source a new motor. It was literally a blank canvas awaiting a new owner to complete, and make it his or her own. And with this being my first introduction to the world of  type 2 transporters, I began imagining the possibilities, and for $500  how could I go wrong?

Unfortunately, I had not considered my wife’s reaction to the prospect of a new project, when I shared my ideas with her that evening over dinner. To my surprise her single objection was one of concern for my safety, since I had a long commute each day to work, and she knew that if I bought and restored the bus, that I intended to drive it. She was worried that with so little sheet metal separating the driver from the front of the bus, that in the event of an accident I could be seriously injured. She also threw in the comment of not wanting to become a young widow with two young boys should something happen to me because of my new found project.  So you can imagine the outcome…

Well the years have passed, and with my sons both graduated from college, I have once again begun looking at VW type 2 transporters, and trying to educating myself regarding the differences and features specific by model year. During this process I have learned about the single cabs, dual cabs and  the safari windowed models, in addition to the variations found within the delivery / panel vans family. Part of my education process has included attendance at some of the local car shows, specifically the Bug-in / Treffen events held in Anaheim, California, and the O.C.T.O. Fest events held in Huntington Beach, California. Both events cater to the volkswagen community, while the O.C.T.O club is dedicated to the celebration of the early 1949-1967 transporters.

Armed with my camera and allot of questions, I attended my first event, the Bug-In / Treffen 2 back in 2009. There was an amazing cross section of volkswagens to see, and the number of buses present was mind blowing. I quickly located several early examples staged on the lawn (both 1957 Kombi’s), but it was the Dove Blue example that really caught my eye. After circling the bus several times and taking a couple photos, I struck up a conversation with the owners ( a husband and wife) and began asking them about their bus. I soon learned that the bus had previously been owned by a Ferrari mechanic, and was one of several from his collection. I was then told that fortunately the bus had been very straight and rust free from the beginning, so that during the new owners restoration efforts, there was a minimum of body work required to get it into its present state (which was amazing). The interior was complete, and had come with all of its original parts. I learned that the hardest decision the owners had to make regarding the interior was to select what color leather to use for redoing the interior, and then choose a contrasting color for the piping. They also went ahead and refinished the seat frames and all of the hardware to bring the interior back to like-new. All of their efforts paid off, as the interior was stunning and the perfect compliment to a beautiful exterior.

1957 kombi VW bus

Underneath , the suspension had been rebuilt and the entire bus had been lowered. For brakes, a set of red Porsche 944 calipers were selected for all four corners. These sat behind four chromed, Porsche 5 spoke fuch alloy wheels. Up front,  a set of the increasingly rare and even harder to find, original Porsche  4 1/2″ X15″ fuch 5 spoke alloy wheels were sourced. Out back, the bus rode on a set of factory 6″X15″ fuch 5 spoke alloys.

But the hidden jewel was revealed when the owner opened up the engine lid. Inside sat a highly modified, beautifully detailed, Porsche fan shrouded street motor producing as the owner described “gobs of horsepower and torque”, enough to transform the bus into what he called their “freeway flyer”. If I recall, their motor was somewhere in the realm of 2300 CC,  a far cry from the small displacement  motor that originally occupied the same space.

motor_1957 VW kombi

When I left the event later that afternoon, I was impressed by the friendliness and enthusiastic nature of the many owners who had patiently answered my questions and who had freely shared the back stories regarding their vehicles.

More recently, in February of this year, I  attended the O.C.T.O. Winterfest event, which was a singular celebration of type 2 transporters. Once again, I encountered an amazing collection of vehicles, and the same friendly environment  and willingness on the part of the owners to share their stories and answer my questions. I came away from this event with an even greater appreciation for the VW community, and have some great photographic resources to draw upon for future project inspiration.

The following photos represent a small sampling of the type 2 transporters that were on display at the Winterfest event back in February.

VW type 2 bus_O.C.T.O. Winterfest 2011

Type 2 panel van_O.C.T.O. Winterfest_2011VW dual cab_O.C.T.O. Winterfest_2011VW single cab_O.C.T.O winterfest_2011VW single cab_O.C.T.O winterfest_2011(All photos by the author)