- the auction site bring a trailer is listing a pristine restored 1962 vw 23-window samba bus at no reserve, with the listing set to expire on tuesday, july 7.
- the volkswagen classic reminds the author of the similar one he was offered by a co-worker in the late 1990s for only $1500, but turned down.
- if you want to be smarter than he was back then, you'll have to bring lots of cash: the bidding is already at $80,000 as of july 3.
in 1999, i was a student living in huntington beach, california, taking classes in long beach during the day and working at a nearby kinko's at night. it was at this copy shop that has since been absorbed into the fedex monolith that one of my coworkers offered me a once-in-a-lifetime deal: his 1963 vw 23-window samba microbus for $1500. although it may have been a 21-window version. either way, what a steal. did i buy it? no, i did not. to this day, it's the one that got away.
i thought of that deal when i came across this amazing 1962 volkswagen 23-window samba on bring a trailer. the restored beauty has only 300 miles post-restoration and looks like it did when it came off the lot in the early '60s. (full disclosure: bring a trailer is owned by car and driver's parent company, hearst autos.)
the interior is clean, and the outside is painted sealing wax red and beige grey. the microbus even has a sliding canvas top and pop-out front windows. the was likely a labor of love for the previous owner of this microbus. anyone with the cash (as of publishing, its current bid is at $80,000 and it still has three days left on the site) will be more than happy to cruise it around town.
what i was offered was nowhere near this nice, but it was still special.
it was not one of the beautifully polished specimens found fetching astronomical prices on auction sites. it was in working condition though with a newly tuned engine and had a baby blue paint job that had a few splotches of primer here and there. it was a restore in progress, and the owner, who was around my age, liked me. i imagine he wanted to upgrade to a more modern vehicle so that when he went out with his new girlfriend, they arrived at their destination on a regular basis without a roadside delay to fix the accelerator cable or figure out which part of the electrical system was causing the headlights to dim dangerously while driving down the freeway.
when he made the $1500 sale offer, which he said was for me only, i turned and looked out the window of the kinko's at the microbus in the dark parking lot. it was glorious. he rattled off the work he had done to the piece of automotive history and what still needed to be finished. i think he said it was missing one of the rear bench seats and likely needed a new clutch soon, but by that time my brain had shut him out and was fabricating my new life with a vw bus. long slow drives up the coast during sunsets (always during sunsets) with my surfboards strapped to the roof. a host of van-related possibilities laid out before me on the open road. i wanted that bus. i needed that bus. i was moving to san francisco and by law, i had to have that bus.
then i uttered the words that haunt me to this day. "wow, that's cool. let me think about it." i could feel my soul retract and collapse upon itself into a small black cube inside my body.
i had about $1200 saved up at that point, which i had squirreled away to survive after my imminent move to san francisco, one of the world’s most costly cities. nevertheless, by the next day, i had decided to throw caution to the wind and do it. i had been broke for so long, having that amount of cash (or any cash really) in the bank felt unnatural anyway.
then i got a call from a sibling. someone in the family needed $1100 right away. i said yes and drained my account. i didn’t think about the microbus until after the cash was out of my hands and helping someone else, and then i shrugged internally and got back into my trusty 1990 honda civic dx hatchback.
but i still think about that samba and my imaginary drives up the coast during the sunset. in my dreams, i'm hoping to get home before the sun goes down and i’m forced to fix whatever issue is causing the headlights to dim.