Home » This Audi S3-Powered Volkswagen Bus With Another Bus As A Camper Is An Absurdly Fun Way To Go Camping

This Audi S3-Powered Volkswagen Bus With Another Bus As A Camper Is An Absurdly Fun Way To Go Camping

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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.

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Volkswagen Type 2 Camper 2

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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:

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Today, the Type 2 is an icon, and I’ll let Volkswagen explain why:

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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.

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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

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Camper

Volkswagen Type 2 Camper 4

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.

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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.

Volkswagen Type 2 Camper 3

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.

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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 mercedes@theautopian.com.

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(Images: Car & Classic seller, unless otherwise noted.)

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Sean Ellery
Sean Ellery
9 months ago
Derek van Veen
Derek van Veen
9 months ago

I’m mildly disappointed that it isn’t using an air-cooled 911 motor as that would have been more evolutionary-aligned with the original 36HP motor, but very neat, regardless.

Hiram McDaniel
Hiram McDaniel
9 months ago

These are awesome! About 10 years ago, I had a Vanagon Westfalia camper that I had to sell due to a fire divorce, and I still maintain that was one of the most fun to drive vehicles I have ever driven, even with the factory 85HP. I had purchased a crate Zetec to install, wound up selling it separately. Still regret not being able to build that ultimate “sleeper”!!

Angry Bob
Angry Bob
9 months ago

If the front VW is at even a slight lean angle compared to the rear VW, they’re going to contact. Otherwise very cool!

Glutton for Piëch
Glutton for Piëch
9 months ago

fuck me UP.

Mattias
Mattias
9 months ago

The engine clearly shows the single cam five cylinder from the Audi 100 C3 and Volkswagen Santana. The Volksiebus (ZA Vanagon) got this engine first in the 2.0l 85kW and later in the 2.3l 100kW version. It had some modifications from the Diesel 827, namely the different oil sump and pump and no hydraulic valve clearance compensation, due to the slanted position.

Since the C3 was also sold in ZA, it is most likely that this is either a 120kW 2.2l turbo (from the C3 with some parts from the Volksiebus naturally aspirated engine) or a 2.0l or 2.3l Volksiebus slanted non turbo with later added turbo. I know that some people experimented with turbos from the turbo diesel on these engines. These usually only gave a modest horsepower bump, but some low end torque.

So this probably is either a 2.0l with a later turbo job and around 100kW or a 2.2l with factory turbo and 120 to 125kW.

Rafael
Rafael
9 months ago

Nice idea and execution, but as someone that tends to anthropomorphise cars, I feel weird seeing a VW Bus carrying around the hollowed corpse of another bus. Again, this is me, nothing wrong with the car.
One way for me to fell better is to think of it as a bug moulting out of its old skin, which is also weird, but less morbid 🙂

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
9 months ago

Horrible idea.

Spyrius Robot
Spyrius Robot
9 months ago

Just to be that guy I’m gonna point out that that instagram post was probably inspired by the Hot Wheels version that came out in 2015: https://hotwheels.fandom.com/wiki/Custom_Volkswagen_Hauler

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
9 months ago

Some of these photos are too carnal for a wholesome, family website.

Scoutdude
Scoutdude
9 months ago

Was sitting at a stop light today when a vehicle came up next to me in the left turn lane something that sounded like a Subaru, when I looked to the left I saw a Vanagon. The left went first and if the sound of it starting to accelerate wasn’t enough once it went past me I saw that the lower valance was removed and could clearly see the front of a Subaru engine, with its timing belt covers painted white no less.

Phuzz
Phuzz
9 months ago
Reply to  Scoutdude

Subaru boxer engines are a popular VW swap, with the right setup you can put ten times the original power in a bug. (See MCM’s ‘Miss Daisy’)

Scoutdude
Scoutdude
9 months ago
Reply to  Phuzz

Yup, definitely not the first I’ve seen out on the roads.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
9 months ago

Love the idea, but not that color. Now the blue one, that was excellent.

Church
Church
9 months ago

No notes.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
9 months ago

Lovely vehicle. Not a vw expert wonder if it has the issues the SA vws had? Not a lot added probably no weight hauling issues. You would think the auction site would get the details correct. That blue scheme looks better though.

Cayde-6
Cayde-6
9 months ago

Is it possible that there is a typo and the engine is from an A3?

Eggsalad
Eggsalad
9 months ago

Because the axle is in the stock location on the trailer part, it seems like a lot of the weight is going to be on the kingpin (or gooseneck ball, whichever this has). That might be fine, or not, depending on the rear suspension of the “tractor”.

Scoutdude
Scoutdude
9 months ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

That was my first thought but then I thought about it and the “tractor” did loose most of its back half and they were actually designed to carry essentially their own weight in cargo. So it may be alright depending on how heavy and well distributed the interior additions are.

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
9 months ago

A nice replacement for a tent. I would like to cooking options. A toilet would be a shitcase so would use the facilities on site.

Chronometric
Chronometric
9 months ago

So much cool. So much wasted space.

StayPutReachJump
StayPutReachJump
9 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

That was my thought. I looked at the lead photo for a while thinking, are you really gaining any space with this? Maybe a little?

Looks really cool, but honestly, I like my 4th grade concept way better: Take the same vintage of bus and lengthen it by adding 2 or three more window segments, add another rear axle (powered, of course), paint it black except for the swoop line, paint that fluorescent yellow… (fluorescent highlighter pens just came out when I was in 4th grade…)

NebraskaStig
NebraskaStig
9 months ago

Neat ride,but that speedometer has my eyes going cross with the inverted 10, 80, and 90

Knowonelse
Knowonelse
9 months ago

So much customization in the tow vehicle! Crafted from a full bus, not a single cab. Shortened and a treasure chest added probably for access to the engine that begins just behind the cab. Gas fill cover added too. Rear vents added from a VW truck version. I’d love to read about the crafting of this vehicle.

Scoutdude
Scoutdude
9 months ago
Reply to  Knowonelse

Yeah I’d love to learn more about the build of the “tractor” a lot of work went into it and at least in the pictures it looks very well done.

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