Hit the Road in This Ultra Rare 1966 VW Bus Split-Window Camper Conversion
Fewer than 1,000 units were made, and its price tag reflects that.
Travel season is upon us, but not everybody's ready to hop back on a plane. If you're going to be stuck in a cramped vehicle for hours on end, after all, you might as well have some scenery to look at, if not immerse yourself in with a camper or RV. And if you're looking for such accommodations with some funky classic Volkswagen flair, look no further than this obscure, African-made, 1961 Type 2 camper conversion listed on eBay.
According to its seller, this camper was converted from a 1961 VW bus by a South African camper company called Jurgens, which called its Type 2-tailored addition the Autovilla. It was, per an owners' fansite, one of about 1,000 built, only a handful of which were the rare split-window models.
VW Types 2s are glacially slow even at the best of times, and that trait is only exaggerated by the camper's added drag and weight. Like the Autovilla tested in 1979 by a magazine whose scans can be found on The Samba, this Autovilla is powered by VW's carbureted, air-cooled 2.0-liter flat-four, which sent about 70 horsepower and 82 pound-feet of torque through a four-speed manual transmission to the rear wheels.
In testing, this took almost 30 seconds to haul the Autovilla to 55 mph, and god knows how long to its top speed of 69. Admittedly, the tested example had a bulkier version of the Autovilla camper, but those results should set your expectations of its performance, not to mention mileage—it got about 14 mpg at highway speed.
When an Autovilla, at last, reached its destination, its occupants could enjoy its remarkably efficiently packaged amenities. Jurgens somehow fit an adequate kitchenette with a stove, fridge, sink, and plenty of cupboards in with a lavatory and a double bed, under which are some tools and the spare tire. This particular Autovilla also has a vintage barometer, a camping awning, and creamsicle-and-wood-veneer decor as garish as the '70s could manage.
There's no indication that its conveniently mounted fire extinguisher will be urgently needed, either, as its seller says the vehicle appears to have been restored at some point. Because it's in terrific shape, though, and it's a sought-after split-window converted into a still-rarer camper, it commands a towering price of $93,000. It's more than most can justify for a vehicle so slow its zero-to-60 time isn't worth testing, but paying through the nose is to be expected for people set on owning a very weird VW.
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