1965 VOLKSWAGEN T2 Split Screen CampervanView vehicle description
Whether you’re going to California or Cornwall, there’s nothing cooler to go in than a Type 2 Camper. VW’s masterpiece is still a common sight on the M5 in the summer months, as hoards or happy campers head south in one of the most iconic utility vehicles of the 20th century.
In production for a world-beating 64 years, the Type 2’s days finally ended in 2013, when the last versions rolled out of VW’s Achieta plant near Sao Paolo, Brazil, as they had for the previous 34 years. Quite simply, this slow, characterful, economical and easy-to-maintain minibus, van or camper had been irreplaceable. It was still selling well when VW applied the brakes. But modern safety regs had finally caught up with this much-loved vehicle.
The Camper version has long been the height of VW’s offbeat motoring chic. Second-hand examples − especially the original split-windscreen models with their swooping V-shaped fronts − command eye-watering prices, while if you find a high-spec Samba-Bus with skylight windows and a cloth sunroof (they were designed for Alpine touring), the price will be as high as the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak.
Certainly, if you’re one of the countless thousands happy to get along with the T2’s slow and meandering ways, this oddball, yet highly functional machine remains as fashionable as ever.
The T2 was, as its name made clear, the second VW model, The first, of course, being the ubiquitous Beetle. VW was persuaded to make the new model by Ben Pon, a Dutch businessman and Beetle importer, who became a millionaire exporting Kombis to the United States. Pon got the idea from the motorised trolleys used to transport parts around a VW factory in Wolfsburg.
They were made from stripped down Beetle chassis, which lead to his sketch of a Beetle-based van, slightly resembling a box on wheels. A year later when Heinz Nordhoff became the Chief Executive of Volkswagen, he ran with Pon’s idea, and the first Type 2 VW van was launched at the Geneva Motor Show in November 1949, and went on sale the following year.
It was a stylish, if unexpected design: a scientifically streamlined utility vehicle with an air-cooled engine hidden under the floor at the back, and with the driver perched over the front wheels, and with nothing in front of the windscreen − holding a big, bus-style steering wheel.
The T2 thrummed along inexhaustibly, accompanied by its distinctive VW beat, at 60mph carrying up to a ton of people and goods while weighing little more itself. It was quiet inside, while the rear-mounted engine provided impressive traction, enabling the vehicle to pull away happily in sand or snow.
In 1967, as the Summer of Love played out, the T2 was given a facelift, losing its distinctive split-screen and gaining a single piece wraparound windscreen, plus a more powerful, 1600cc engine. In all other respects, it retained the original character, and was as popular as ever with police and ambulance services as it was with ranchers in South America and dropouts heading to the Age of Aquarius via Route 66.
Since 2006, water-cooled engines powered the Brazilian-made Kombis, with radiator grilles marring their once serene front ends. Still they sold, although no-one seems to know quite how many million T2s, split and single-screen, were made over those 63 years. And still, they feature in films as they had done for decades because they always look ineffably cool.
You can spot them, in fact, in as many as you can name in the time it took a T2 to reach 60mph. There’s Wait Until Dark, a thriller from 1967 starring Audrey Hepburn and Alan Arkin. There’s Alan Arkin again in 2006’s Little Miss Sunshine (a wonderful film). Magnum Force with Clint Eastwood, Field of Dreams with Kevin Costner, not forgetting Alice’s Restaurant from 1969 starring the folk singer Arlo Guthrie, nor 2013’s Argo by Ben Affleck, featuring six US embassy staff being smuggled out of Tehran by the Canadian secret service in a yellow-and-white Type 2 bus.
This 1965 German built Split Screen was discovered abandoned in California and brought back to the UK by a VW enthusiast, who then embarked on a mammoth restoration project, which resulted in the fantastic camper you see before you here. We do note the chassis prefix is 21 which may mean it started life as a panel van. Amazingly, he then generously donated the van to the Motor Neuron Disease Foundation, who offered it as a prize in a raffle to raise money for medical research with a portion of the money raised going to the charity. The lucky winner takes up the tale:
‘I actually won the camper in a raffle! Crazy I know but that’s what happened. I’m selling her because she’s in show condition and I know she needs an enthusiast or specialist that can use or show her to her best potential, as she is such a fine example. She had a full restoration last year including a brand new engine with under 7000 miles on the clock.
‘She is a living and breathing, pristine example of a 1965 split screen camper, who has been painstakingly restored by a real gentleman and enthusiast. You really would struggle to find a better example, in such fantastic condition.
‘I took her to the Volksworld show this year, and she was greatly admired by enthusiasts from not only the UK but Germany and across Europe, who remarked on what an amazing example she is. It was then that I made the decision that she needs to go to someone who will love her, show her off and has the knowledge to keep her in the pristine condition she’s in now.’
On the Outside
This 1965 German made Volkswagen Splitscreen has had the following:
New gear linkage.
Polished safari windows.
Brand new wiring loom.
This is a show quality van and the only slight fault in the finish we could see is a small mark on the offside step, inside the door shut, where it’s possible the door has rubbed slightly on it. This is incredibly minor though, and obviously invisible with the door shut.
On the Inside
Brand new RVTec interior.
Smev / Dometic stainless two burner hob and sink.
Running water with waste tank.
Custom professional upholstered seats throughout.
Brand new upholstered bed.
Custom buddy seat (allowing six passengers).
Three front seat belts.
Diesel heater, custom tank with fuel level indicator.
Complete with digital thermostat.
Split charge camping electrics with 100ah leisure battery.
USB / cigar lighter sockets.
Everything inside the van is new.
Original VW colour respray in 2021.
The van had a brand new 1600cc engine fitted with alternator and electronic ignition, just 7000 miles ago. This is a more powerful unit than the original 1500 and makes the vehicle far more able to keep up with traffic.
Underneath everything is in fine condition, having been fully refurbished as part of the restoration.
The seller says:
‘She was found in California as a shell and transported back to the UK by a very kind gentleman (who is a restoration expert) who has spent over £25k lovingly restoring her. We have all of the documents from the original shell sale (including a hand written note of sale as they found the van in someone’s garden).
‘All the export and import documents and invoices, and all invoices of all of the work which has been completed are with the van. He went to the expense and trouble of researching vintage paints and paint colour to make sure she had the correct paint job for her make of year.
‘He also managed to find the very rare, original safari windows for her, along with many other parts. He literally went above and beyond to transform her into her former glory. Then miraculously was very kind to donate her into the raffle for charity where I was lucky enough and so very grateful to win her. Her name is 'jugs' due to her numberplate.
‘She is so exceptional and has such a wonderful story from being a shell, being imported and fully restored by someone who really cares about the history of these cars, and then to have the heart to give her as a prize to raise money for charity.
‘I really hope she ends up with someone who is going to love her and give her the respect and care she deserves. She is my dream camper but she really is a supermodel and needs someone to treat her as one.’
The camper comes with 10 months’ MoT, although legally it doesn’t need one.
What We Think
It’s more of a glamper than a camper, such is the condition. One for a museum or for someone who just wants a perfectly restored split screen camper. We can’t imagine you’ll find a better one.
Our estimate for this vehicle is £35,000 - £50,000.
Viewing is always encouraged, and this particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; we are open weekdays 9am-5pm, to arrange an appointment please use the Contact Seller button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.
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- Location: The Market HQ Abingdon, United Kingdom
- Seller Type: Private
- Odometer Reading: 6678
- Chassis Number: 215016840
- Engine: 1600
- Gearbox: manual
- Steering position: LHD
- Colour: Green
- Interior: Leather green and white stripe
- Estimated Price: £35,000 - £50,000