“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”


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.


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.


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…


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.


(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.


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.


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…



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




Saturday morning reflections…


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)