Going camping is fun, but the vehicles often involved with getting there and back? They don’t tend to be all that thrilling, or all that pleasing to look at. This morning, I found a camping rig that checks so many boxes. This 1963 Volkswagen Type 2 has a lot going for it. You’re getting a Volkswagen truck with an Audi S3’s turbocharged four in it plus a fifth wheel camper made from another Volkswagen Type 2 Bus — it all comes together as an RV that might actually be more fun to drive than wherever you’re going to take it.
The Volkswagen Type 2 Microbus is a vehicle beloved by our own Jason as well as collectors the world over. A look at recent sales shows that people are willing to pay over $200,000 for these things when they’re in more or less perfect shape. Most of those collector Buses are largely stock. This 1963 Volkswagen Type 2 is coming up for auction in the UK and it’s a hot rod. Back in 1963, Type 2s in America were working with about 51 ponies in the stable by way of a 1500 four-cylinder air-cooled engine. This beast? It’s making at least 207 HP from a modern Audi powerplant, and you get to drag a camper along for the ride. It’s no wonder the trucklet has bracing behind its cab.
As Jason wrote a decade ago, the story of the Microbus started when Dutch Volkswagen importer Ben Pon visited Wolfsburg in 1947. Pon was looking for Type 1s, but at the factory he saw Plattenwagens, crude platforms with wheels. These brutalist utility vehicles inspired Pon to draw up a simple utility vehicle that would become the Type 2:
Today, the Type 2 is an icon, and I’ll let Volkswagen explain why:
Produced between 1951 and 1967, the first-generation Microbus was budget-friendly and built for sightseeing adventures. The four-cylinder engine was placed in the rear, allowing the driver to sit right on the windshield affording unparalleled views of the road.
Over time, the classic silhouette of the Microbus could be spotted at beaches, campgrounds, and music festivals. The bus quickly became synonymous with the counterculture — posing a complete opposite to souped-up muscle cars that were being pumped out of Detroit in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
The bus was relatively easy to maintain and could carry lots of passengers — factors that were very attractive to the nomadic hippies of the 1960’s and 1970’s. The Microbus was responsible for shaking up the automotive industry just as America was on the brink of a social revolution.
As Volkswagen notes, the Type 2 wasn’t really designed to be a beloved machine, but something utilitarian. The original Type 2s, built starting in March 1950 in Wolfsburg, stuffed their 1.1-liter Type 1 engines under the floor in the rear, giving the forward control van tons of room for carrying stuff and up to nine people. Type 2s came in a ton of different variants from panel vans to the Kombi convertible cargo and passenger van. The Type 2 was also made into single and crew cab pickups, Sambas, Westfalia campers, and more.
One thing Volkswagen didn’t turn the Microbus into is a fifth wheel travel trailer, so this auction gives you something special.
This 1963 Volkswagen Type 2 Plus Matching Camper
According to the site handling the auction, Car & Classic, this camper is a custom build being sold by the builder. If this whole deal seems familiar to you, it’s because you’ve probably seen the 2016 Instagram post of vdl1990. Here, take a look:
That blue and white van and camper combination went viral and has been passed around quite a lot. Sites still include the picture years later. Sadly, the poster confirmed the photo to be a Photoshop, albeit a good one. No worries, though, because this one is real and you can buy it. Car & Classic doesn’t provide us with many details about what we’re looking at here. Of course, I had to do some digging of my own.
According to the plates affixed to the Type 2, it was built in Volkswagen of South Africa’s Uitenhage plant. At some point in the Type 2’s life, the air-cooled engine in the rear was tossed out. In its place now sits a turbocharged engine from an Audi S3.
Nailing down the engine was a bit of a task. Car & Classic says the engine is a 2.0-liter five-cylinder from an Audi S3. That made me super excited, right until I realized that such an engine doesn’t actually exist.
The original Audi S3, which was available from 1999 to 2003, came with a 1.8-liter turbo four. The second generation, built from 2006 to 2013, used the 2.0 TFSI, also a turbo four. There was a straight five available to the Audi RS3, but that was the 2.5 TFSI. So, you get the problem here. The S3 didn’t have a five-cylinder and the five-cylinder that came in the RS3 wasn’t a 2.0-liter. Further confusing things is the registration documents which say the engine is 2000cc.
I went through the task of going through each and every engine used in the S3, comparing each to what is under the floor of this Type 2 for sale. The RS3’s 2.5-liter CEPA straight-five engine (below) has the oil cap on the opposite side of this engine’s cap. The timing situation also looks entirely different, so it’s probably not that engine.
Next, there are the BHZ and CDLA 2.0 turbo fours from the 2006 to 2013 Audi S3. These look much closer, but the timing looks different and the oil dipstick is in the wrong place.
Finally, we arrive at the 1.8-liter turbo four found in the 1999 to 2003 Audi S3 and the Audi TT. This engine has the dipstick in the right place, and the timing looks correct. The biggest differences I see are a custom intake and what looks like a custom valve cover. I reckon this is the engine found in this Type 2. Regardless, the Type 2 is making at least 207 HP or 225 HP, a more than healthy bump from stock. If it’s the aforementioned BHZ or CDLA engine, we’re talking about 265 HP, which would be downright silly.
What I can also tell you is that the engine is firing its power through an automatic transmission to the rear wheels. You can see in the undercarriage photos that the front wheels are unpowered. That makes sense, as I’d imagine it would be interesting to get a Quattro system to work in this setup.
The fifth wheel trailer on the back also started life as a Type 2. A plate affixed to the trailer says it came from Multiloader Trailers of South Africa. Multiloader Trailers specializes in trailer rentals and sales as well as custom trailer builds and restorations. It’s unclear what Multiloader did to the Type 2 trailer, but the result looks awesome.
Inside, you get a pretty nice bed, a Westfalia-style pop-up roof, laminate flooring, a refrigerator, and a rather massive storage area taking up the rear.
Personally, I would have loved to see this area as a lounge or room for more appliances, but it’s still pretty cool. Other features are minimal and include an awning and a luggage rack. No cooking facilities of any kind, but at least there’s plenty of space for a shitcase!
My favorite part about this build is the fact that you cannot tell there’s modern power housed next to the rear axle. The cab looks period-correct, with only a few gauges looking out of place.
Even the automatic’s Hurst-style shifter looks properly vintage. There are 38,343 kilometers displayed on the tow vehicle’s digital odometer and it’s registered as a 1963. The listing also notes that the vehicle is exempt from MOT testing and road tax.
As Car & Classic notes, the vehicle is being sold by the private party that built it. Amazingly, I’ve found no social media or coverage about this vehicle, so it’s not obvious who made this beauty. If you want what sounds like a seriously fun ride, the auction begins at Car & Classic in the UK on September 22.
If you built this marvelous rig or know the person who did, I’d love to talk with you. I want to know the story about this epic creation. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Images: Car & Classic seller, unless otherwise noted.)
Support our mission of championing car culture by becoming an Official Autopian Member.
- Readers Aren’t Having Georgia’s Bullshit Reason For Banning Kei Trucks: COTD
- Fiat Panda Six-Wheeler, Volkswagen Golf Country, Indian Sport Scout: Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness
- The Second-Generation Saturn Vue Lived, Then Died, Then Lived Again: GM Hit Or Miss
- Can You Guess The Three Cars The Autopian Has Tried To Buy This Week?