Build or Buy: Micro Bus, Macro Engine

Happy end-of-2019 everyone! For our last Build or Buy of this decade, we’ve found a doozy. We all love classic Microbuses, right? They’re loaded with charm, but the lack of power leaves many people cold. Enter this week’s Buy Bus. It’s up on power. WAY up. And so is the price. But if you’re mechanically inclined and want to build your own, we’ve got that covered too.

Argument: Buy
Article: 1965 Volkswagen V-8 Microbus

You read that right: this shiny Bus holds a secret. There’s an Oldsmobile V-8 engine powering this people hauler. And unlike traditional Type 2’s, the engine’s not in the back, it’s mid-ship mounted. It sits right where the middle seat used to be. We’re trying to imagine the handling dynamics of a set up like this, and we just can’t.

The Olds engine is bolted to an Olds transmission, so the set up can be serviced by just about any shop. It also has upgraded brakes, electronics, and airconditioning can be added. But why mess with that when you can pop open the front safari windows to get some fresh air?

This bus also has custom roof carrier bars, custom rear bike racks, and even a (you guessed it) custom front brush bar with a handy integrated step. And we know custom comes at a price; $48,000 in this case. But if you’ve seen Bus prices recently, this isn’t too bad.

There’s way more information in thesamba.com classified ad. This V-8 bonkers bus is in Austin, Texas.

Argument: Build
Article: 1966 Volkswagen Kombi

If you’re looking for a low-price serviceable Bus, here’s just the one for you. This 1966 Kombi is a bit basic, but if you’re looking to build a V-8 van, the plainer the better to start with.

Sure this Type 2 has some rust, but as the seller says “it’s completely savable.” One bonus: a section of the cargo floor has already been cut out. You’re that much closer to a running eight-cylinder Bus. It also has a non-running engine that is not locked up, so maybe you could sell just the motor to someone else, cause hell, you won’t need it!

Now we can’t help you with the V-8 engine. Or the transmission. Or how to put all into a Bus. But we can point you to thesamba.com classified ad for this ’66. And we can let you know it’s in Belmont, North Carolina.