Introduced in 1950, the Volkswagen Type II made enough inroads in America that by the 1960s, the Detroit “Big Three” all developed ‘forward control’ offerings of their own in response, none of which outlived the VW. The Transporter’s popularity was also responsible in some part for the adoption of the so-called “Chicken Tax” that is applied to light trucks imported into the United States – a tax still on the books to this day. While our subject car most likely started life as a working truck, it’s today used as a daily driver by a coworker, who was kind enough to brave an irate farmer with me to acquire these photos.
It’s been nearly twenty years since I last drove a ‘bus, and I don’t remember my ’71 Campmobile being quite so “form fitting” as the ’62. But after sliding in one leg at a time and fastening the lap belt, everything fell right to hand, and a huge grin spread across my face for the trip back to the office. My coworker (we’ll call him Matt, since that’s what everyone else does) purchased the truck pretty much in the state in which you see it here – he had owned another van prior to college, and kept his eye out for a replacement after graduating.
Matt designed the door signage, which is in honor of his Grandfather. Matt said his Grandpa was always tinkering on things, making repairs rather than replacing (like a lot of men from that generation)… a lot of Matt’s own interest in mechanical things came from Herr Lingenfelter.
Underneath that canvas top is a pristine bed that sits a comfortable 38-1/2″ above the ground (stock ride height!), complete with a few vintage accessories. Having owned a ’64 Beetle, I suspect the gas can is functional as well as decorative, as the early fuel gauges were really more for suggestion rather than being precision instruments. The oak strips lining the bed gave the truck the nickname Pritschenwagen, or “plank bed car,” in Germany. The truck was also available in a three-door double-cab configuration, a convenience for which one traded a substantial portion of the bed area.
And yes, Matt does carry a copy of the ‘Idiot Guide,’ although this one is far too clean to be the one he uses for regular maintenance. I can barely read my copy any more! As an aside, Chilton’s manuals were a lot better back in the day than they are now. The Bentley manual is hands-down considered to be the best reference available for your vintage VW.
Under the bed resides a stock 1200cc mill making an optimistic 40hp (gross). The van is certainly not quick, but I found that it was still eager enough if you were willing to work with the low output and gearing – it’s only having to move about 2,425lb (unladen), after all. The ’62 would originally have had reduction gearboxes at the outboard ends of the rear swing axles, giving the van a 5.73:1 final drive ratio, sufficient to urge along the 3/4 ton payload at a leisurely pace up even the steepest incline. Those, however, are missing from this van – part of the extensive modifications made to lower the vehicle (and yes, I already warned Matt that not all CC readers care for the slammed look!).
While I’m not a huge fan of the lowered look myself, what appeals to me about this vehicle is that, as a daily (fair weather) driver, it gets used regularly throughout the late Spring through Fall here in the Middle West. I’d tuck it away during Salt Season, too, if it were mine! I was all the more impressed after driving it back to the office – the ride is quite choppy (I ran over a dime laying in the road and could tell what year it was minted, if that gives any indication). Not to mention the fact we got passed by a fully-loaded dump truck on our way out to the photo site.
But the “cool” factor is simply off the charts – there’s just something about driving an old Volkswagen that, for me at least, brings a huge smile to my face, even after being chased away from our first photo shoot location – and we’re *very* pleased to report that a forty-horse 1962 VW Single Cab can outrun a John Deere tractor pulling a grain auger!
Lowering it looks silly. Jack it up again and make it original.
I painted my ’71 Campmobile like a WWII bomber, and drove it daily for over five years that way. It was quite the conversation-starter, and no-one ever called it silly or complained it wasn’t “original.” My car, my choice.
Let the owner do what he wants with it. He didn’t build it for you!
Its beautiful, there is one at Westshore locally advertising a Chemist shop no canopy though it should be on the cohort somewhere, no trafficators on the local one its a 57 in fact it has that problem highlighted in signwriting on the tailgate warning other motorists of its lack..Having ridden in a slammed 65 van recently I can attest to the ride you notice every crack in the pavement yet at the original ride height these vans were ok on really bad roads not comfortable as such but capable if very slow. Some friends drove a 1100 Type2 right around Australia and neither of that couple can fix cars beyond simple maintenance they drove Jesse the van 8 years using 7 engines always the cheapest beetle engine available fitted by the vendor about an hours spannering.
Very cool. Though I remember seeing lots of buses of this style, the pickups were quite rare. The chicken tax was passed in 1963, so this model would have snuck in just before that tax went into effect.
I have always been fascinated by the drop-down sides on the beds of these pickups. I had no idea that there were so many wood strips in the bed.
I find it very surprising to hear that it has a stock 1200 engine.Pretty much every VW bus and pickup was treated to a 1600 (at least) along the way. I would only expect a fully restored T1 to still have its 1200.
And since he took off the reduction gears, that means it’s now geared like a 1200 Beetle. That might make highway gearing less than optimal.
I wonder if it’s really a 1200?
Yep, it’s stock displacement. The only change was to 12v electrics. The wheel/tire combination is smaller in diameter than stock, which helps some; top speed is about 50-55mph.
While my ’59 Beetle has my heart (as anyone who read my COAL Monday knows) split window Type2s are a very, very close second.
Beautiful Single Cab man! I’ve owned and currently own a Bus, but I’ve never had a truck although it is on my bucket list.
I like it lowered, as you can tell from how my ’63 Standard Microbus sits.
I came across a ’59 Transporter on a trailer last summer that was being readied for restoration. The plates had expired in 1977, but the body was still in pretty good shape…especially for Northern Ontario. The previous owner must have stored it indoors. It didn’t have the wood strips in the bed, but it did have a built-in tool compartment under the bed…as does this one, I see. I know where the ’59 lives, so I’m going to keep an eye out for it. I see a similar vintage black crew cab model around Toronto once in a while, and it’s no garage queen – it looks like a daily driver. Great truck – I think the canvas top suits these things perfectly.
All VW pickups had that underbed compartment, nicknamed the “treasure chest” by VW guys. The only option was whether was a single door or dual doors (one on both sides)
The Double Cabs have a compartment under the bed too, except it is accessible via the rear seat bottom.
Ed, I have to echo something that you said, it’s the answer I give when people ask “What is it with you and Volkswagens?” I simply say, “Driving a Volkswagen puts a smile on my face like no other car does. I don’t know why, but it just does.”
This is quite nice. I have most likely seen less than a half-dozen of these in my life.
Although, since you mentioned a double cab, here’s a ’65 I found at a car show.
Most of those I’ve spotted have been double cabs. I’ve only seen a single cab once.
I had a ’59 pickup like this when I lived in Eugene. The ‘treasure chest’ was accessible from only one side. It had the standard 36 hp with reduction gears. (This was long before other engine choices were available).
It broke down one day while on the interstate outside Eugene. When I returned to pick it up the cab was full of bullet holes. (Fortunately, they missed the glass).
I discarded the fold-down sides and built a plywood house on the back with a gable roof.
Then I drove it from Oregon to New York.
It actually made it without any significant problems. But the engine was near death when I got there. I located another engine from a sedan and installed it. This one turned out to be near death as well.
Its next destination was the wrecking yard.
(I didn’t have the time or the space to deal with it further).
The bullet holes went with it.
(photo is mid trip at a rest stop in Iowa, April 1968)
Thanks for choosing me for the write up Ed! Brilliantly written. The comments about farmer friendly got a good laugh from my wife since she heard the story of his hospitality at the first photo location. And thanks to all for the compliments/comments. I love this truck and the smile it brings to my face every time I drive it.
I really am starting to get the VW Van bug. They really are sexy…That first photo has really got me thinking about the possibilities.
My dad had that same green Chilton’s manual. He used it to keep all three of our V Dubs alive.
Nice truck ! .
1961 > Typ II’s were 1 ton , not 3/4 .
I was surprised to see it still has the 1200 (40HP) engine in it , 1962 was the last year for that .
As he’s up dated it quite a bit I wonder why he didn’t add the ‘ fresh air ‘ heater boxes , they really do work a treat .
The VW fuel gauge is only a ‘ suggestion ‘ if the owner damages or fails to repair the DPO/DPM’s mistakes .
Noisy and slow , these trucks rode pretty well when loaded , that’s to be expected of a real truck .
It’s nice to hear he actually _drives_ it as 99 % of lowered VW’s of any typ are too awful to ride in or drive apart from the local show and shine .
Kudos for keeping this one alive ! .
Single cab Typ II’s were once very common indeed , now it’s funny to read ” ! RARE ! ” as they are not .
Hi. I have here is my 61 double cab and the wife’s 65′ the 61 has a 1776 same as the little lady’s but hers has disc brakes. Mine has bucket seats and a original sunroof. Not sure what I want to do with the paint the original color is dove blue. We live on big island in Hawi that’s the very north tip.we get the thumbs up and peace signs from young and old locals and tourist from Japan jumping in front of the bus to take pictures.love driving em and yes it’s the only car I drive that puts a smile on my face.my first car I bought was a vw bug first car I learned to drive was a vw bug and had one when I was in the 82 airborne at Ft.Bragg which was killed in LA when a young girl parked her van on top of it. Aloha