• This Month's Issue

    Level Flier: At $220k, This Fighter-Plane-Inspired '09 Spyker Lands Close to Its Original MSRP

    $575k 1969 Aston Martin DB6 Mk I

    Viva l'Italia! In the Driver's Seat at Villa d'Este, the Mille Miglia and Modena Cento Ore

    Fast-Rising Collectible: "The Fast and the Furious" '93 Supra Stunt Car Hurtles to $200k

    Slow-Rising Collectible: Karmann Ghias Gain Ground

    Read More
  • SCM Platinum

    Over 200 cars that sold at auction covered in every issue of SCM. Our market reports include detailed information about the vehicle, including VIN, condition, options, and expert analysis from SCM's auction reporters.

    SCM Platinum is the largest database of collector cars sold at auction. Over 150,000 vehicles, including over 59,000 with detailed write-ups from our auction reporters.

    Now optimized for your mobile devices!

    Read More
  • Glovebox Notes

    SCM doesn't just cover collector cars. Every week, SCM reviews a brand new car online and in our newsletters, and there are new reviews every month in the magazine. Thinking of buying a new car? Check out our reviews!

    Read More
  • Insider’s Guide to Concours d’Elegance

    The 2014 guide includes a calendar of events and detailed descriptions of 21 featured concours.

    Read More

Recent Blog Posts

  • Graham Hill Describes a Lap at Monaco in 1968 +

    Read More
  • Just the Amazon and Me +

    Last Saturday I did something I haven’t done in quite a while — I took a little road trip by myself. It’s been a typically hectic few months. I’ve attended car events in Italy, Colorado, California, Oregon and Washington, but I haven’t had any “alone time” with my cars. The Read More
  • From Pencil to Metal +

    Read More
  • A Weekend With The Gunnison Car Club +

    Once a year The Gunnison Car Club, under the able direction of Mike Callihan, takes over downtown Gunnison, Colorado, filling the streets with street rods, muscle cars, sports cars and pickups. This year the club selected me to receive The Lee Iacocca Award. Gunnison is 224 miles from the Denver International Airport Read More
  • Quick Takes from the Monterey Week +

    Driving up Highway 101 from Monterey to the San Francisco airport, it was clear that the ball was over. Instead of Monterey Car Week’s sea of candy-colored Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Porsches, a swarm of Kias, Toyotas and Chevrolets peppered the landscape. An occasional modern Fiat 500 served as the token Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

Collector Car News

  • Meet Keith Martin at the Chantilly Concours +

    SCM Publisher Keith Martin returns to France this weekend for the Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille event, taking place September 6 in Chantilly. Martin serves as a concours judge for Citroën Special Bodyworks. (The SCM Collection does include a Méhari after all.) Other classes include:  • The Untouched Open Cars from the Read More
  • 1958 Ferrari 250 GT TdF Headlines RM Sotheby's London Sale +

    RM Sotheby's expects a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Tour de France to fetch between $6.9m and $8.5m at their September 7 London sale. The car is an early single-louver example with covered headlights and period competition history. View the digital catalog here. Read More
  • 1965 Shelby Cobra "Dragonsnake" Offered at Worldwide Auburn +

    A 1965 Shelby Cobra "Dragonsnake" snarls to the auction block September 5 at Worldwide Auctioneers' 8th Annual The Auburn Auction. The auction takes place in Auburn, Indiana. View all the consignments here. View the digital catalog here. Read More
  • Auctions America Offers 1929 Duesenberg Model J at Auburn Fall +

    A 1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupe by Murphy (Auctions America estimate: $1.5m–$1.75m) crosses the auction block at Auctions America's Auburn Fall sale, September 2–6 in Auburn, Indiana. View all the cars here. View the digital catalog here. Read More
  • Monterey Recap: Preliminary Sales Total $392m +

    Monterey Car Week is over, and the last gavel has dropped, but auction companies continue to bring together buyers and sellers behind the scenes. Here are the preliminary numbers that have been confirmed so far: RM Sotheby's reported Monterey sales exceeding $172.7m — an increase of 20% over last year's Monterey Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

1965 volkswagen 21 window deluxe micro bus


When the boxy Volkswagen Transporter arrived on American shores in 1949, its effect and influence was immediate. Using standard Beetle components, it was easy to maintain and was one of the best ways to move small groups of people.

Dubbed the "Micro Bus," Volkswagen's unique Transporter survived through the decades and evolved into several different vehicles. Its combination of economy and practicality made it a hit with the flower-power generation of the 1960s.

The rarest of the Micro Buses is the 21-Window Walk-Through, shown here. It was in many ways the Cadillac of VW buses, as it was adorned with lots of trim and amenities absent on other buses. The standard configuration provided a bench front seat, but the Walk-Through was fitted with two separate front seats so the passenger could walk to the back of the bus without exiting.

This two-owner, California black-plate, 31,000-mile, rust-free Volkswagen received a no-expense-spared restoration by its previous owner. Single-stage urethane paint, completely redone brightwork, and new wide whitewalls help make this example a show winner. Running on a 12-volt electrical system and prepared for any adventure with its deluxe tool kit and spare tire, no detail was missed for either ease of operation or pleasure of ownership.

Complete with its factory sliding sunroof and a fully restored custom luggage rack, this Micro Bus is fit for any locale, be it a concours field or an afternoon at the beach. Finished in two-tone turquoise with a light gray interior, it is attractively equipped with such deluxe features as a chrome ashtray, original Sapphire push-button AM radio, coat hooks, grab rails and jail bars on the rear windows.

{analysis}{auto}184{/auto} This VW bus sold for $38,500, including buyer's premium, at RM's Monterey auction, August 17, 2002.

Although one of the slowest, most ill-handling vehicles imaginable, I must admit that I smile every time I see one of these at auction, or, far more rarely, going down the road. The shape has an innate, near-Bauhaus purity to it, and if restored to the same standard to which they were originally built-they have a level of fit and finish matched only by Mercedes-they are a visual delight.

Driving one, however, is a different matter altogether. Wildly underpowered, and with positively terrifying "high-speed" handling, it's hard to imagine one on today's 80-mph expressways, buffeted by the gargantuan eight-passenger SUVs that are their spiritual successors. The advent of the 42-hp 1500-cc engine in 1963-initially an option, but fitted in most buses that came to the US-raised the top speed to 65 mph. Travelling at that speed was so scary that the factory installed a governor on the carburetor in 1964. And this was before eager lawyers and the DOT were keeping carmakers on their toes.

Despite their mechanical flaws, Micro Buses possessed two powerful virtues when new: they were cheap as dirt and could easily haul all manner of things. When I owned one, I would load my Penton 125-cc motocross bike into the back and head off to the track. Strangely enough, the high-priced tin can here loses both virtues. This Deluxe Samba model has loads of expensive and hard-to-restore trim items, such as full-length "deco" strips of alloy with rubber inserts, complex bumpers and 21 windows. And at nearly $40,000, it is now a relatively expensive toy. With its fully trimmed interior, I doubt anyone will be hauling anything in it except bags of receipts from its restoration.

Tracking this particular vehicle through the SCM Gold database does provide some information of interest. Unsold at $29,000 at Barrett-Jackson's 2001 Petersen Museum auction in Los Angeles, it sold for $24,840 at the same venue the next year. The purchaser was a savvy SCM subscriber with a reputation for turning out brilliantly done Jaguars. He worked his detailing magic on the Micro Bus, added a period luggage rack, and just two months later and 300 miles up the California coast, sold it for nearly $14,000 more. (Of course, his take was less once commissions are factored in, but nonetheless, I'm sure the seller is satisfied with the outcome.)

I don't believe VW Micro Bus prices are on a significant upward trend. Nicely done ones like this have been in the $30,000-$40,000 range for the past decade. The key here is the underlying model (21- or 23- window buses only, please) and the level of the restoration. Anything less than perfection, and the value plummets to the high teens.

As with many iconic collectibles, these vehicles have risen above their intended purpose to be symbols of an era, reminders of a different time. Before we got day jobs, started wearing neckties and having families that rode around in Chrysler minivans, we wore bell-bottoms, listened to the Grateful Dead and went from concert to concert in VW Micro Buses. In a gangly sort of way, this Micro Bus takes us back to that era. This price, considering the venue, shouldn't be that surprising. After all, icons aren't cheap, especially in Monterey.-Jim Schrager

(Historical and descriptive information courtesy of RM Auctions.){/analysis}

Recent Profiles

load more / hold SHIFT key to load all load all