Friday, November 28, 2014

Rob's most amazing adventure / treasure hunt for the 1951 Barndoor 23 window deluxe white roof demonstration/exhibition for dealerships only, not for sale to the public... in Greece

so these photos were taken in the 1990's... and the location wasn't exactly clear. Of course, that would make it easy...  the photos were on this site that really sucks, and has no idea how annoying tiny photos are

But Rob decided he had to have it, when learning about it in 2009, and it took until 2012 to finally get a response back from the person who had posted the photos to learn where the bus was, then he went to Greece to find it. (4000 miles away) And he did. He took these photos in 2013 when he went on recon to find and determine if it could be bought. He drove from England to France to Italy to Venice, took a ferry to Greece, and returned towing the bus.

It wasn't easy, but the old man that owned it, and didn't speak English, had a son that was also helpful, and they agreed to sell it, for about 1250 pounds or Euros (who cares, that's nice, but not the point)

So Rob spent many months working on getting all the paperwork and permits in order so he would be able to export it out of Greece and back to England

he went back, with a limited number of days before having to be back at work in Feb 2014, and in order to get the van on the trailer... all the junk in the van had to be removed

amongst all the trash in the van were all the dash components, luggage rack, headrest, vintage radio with speaker box, and original cab mat

wheels were welded on, engine and trans were locked in gear, and not rolling, and neither were the drums... the steering was stuck ... not much good news. After spending a day trying to get it on the trailer, it was part way on when the trailer wood was found to have some dry rot and right where the drum would sink in and stick the samba half on and half off the trailer. Rescued by way of a lucky coincidence where the owners son needed some construction stuff delivered and the delivery team came with a crane to offload... and was very nice and quickly hoisted the samba right up and on the trailer.

and the rest of the story is full of unpredictable winter storms through the Alps, ferrys from Greece to the continent not on time or in time, and extra fees, and extra expenses, and the 97 Audi 1.9 station wagon towing the trailer (lunatic) had engine problems, and no traction in snowy mountain roads, and no winter tires, nor chains, nor adequate brakes, nor useful GPS or maps

But luck favors the young and foolish, and eventually he got it home with a couple hours to spare to get to work on time after all his vacation time was used up, and he didn't die due to storms so stong they pushed him around on the roads, speed wobbles induced on the trailer, etc

Photo bucket page

in the 80's the price of a restored 23window was in the $5,000 dollar range, a 1/10th the current value

image from

about the roof:
white roofs on Barndoor Deluxes... According to very reliable sources and documentation from VW factory, the prototype demonstrator shown in 1951 brochure and publicity materials had a factory white roof.
Although production started in Aug 1951 only a few were built and none of these for sale to general public - they were supplied as demo vehicles to dealerships.
 The Deluxe was not actually available to general public (officially) until January 1952 and no vehicle from the Wolfsburg production line had a white roof.
 Any white roof  Deluxes that exist are either 1951 demo / exhibition vehicles or have had it applied after it left the factory.

The full story and photos are at but skip the first 4 useless pages. Rob was not being cool, was playing games with the other VW guys on this forum and waiting for them to guess what he'd found. Uncool. Just post the photos and the story, we all got better things to do than play games

on the 2nd to last page of that forum, Rob typed up the story of the samba

Here is what I known of the history of the Samba.
 The guy I brought it off believed the owner before him was the original owner who ordered it from VW directly.
 That owner used it as a School bus (like all Greek barndoors) for a private school of 12-16 year olds. There is a law in Greece that no school bus can can be used for more than 12 years max to ensure road safety. So that put an end to the Sambas use for the school.
 They stored it for a while until the guy I got it from, bought it in 1967.

Unfortunately he needed it to carry cargo. This meant it had to look like a panel van. This is when he cut the roof off level with the bottom edge of the sky windows to the front of the sunroof. He also cut some of the window pillars out, and added the ambulance divide.

The van was registered to his animal food delivery business, until 1974 when he sold the business. He brought the bus out of the business contract and registered it to his new company, the restaurant at the campsite where it sat for ever.

 It lost its number plates in 1983 when he sold the restaurant. He drove it around the campsite until 1991, when a massive dog got under the van and ripped out the wiring.

 He kept it under cover into the 90s. The campsite closed in 94 and opened again in 96 as a club. This is when drunk people returning to their cars soon started destroying it. One cluber tested out his new bull bars by driving into the front. The cans started arriving and it wasn't cared for anymore.

 Between my visit in April and this February someone had tried to rip the quarter light off and had used a log to smash in the split screen centre pillar. Thankfully the thorn bush had probably limited some damage and the cans had stopped any arson attempts.

 The owner really loved this car though. Which is why he had never sold it. He told a story of two French guys who tried to buy the van 10 years ago with a plan to ship it to Brazil for a full resto in the Brazilian VW factory

for the 7 or 8 other cool stories of these VW micro bus / Samba / Kombi getting pulled out of forests with helicopters, or out of swamps, lakes, and deserts after used for target practice (the "bullet bus") and the one found in the ditch in Pakistan... see them all at

learned about this story on

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