No such critter like this was available new from Volkswagen—no matter how many option boxes were checked off
Introduced in 1950, the Volkswagen Type 2 effectively doubled the product line of the thriving German car company. Utilizing the same rear-engine air-cooled format as the overwhelmingly successful Beetle, the various Type 2 models featured new dimensions of passenger and cargo space in an ingeniously designed lightweight structure. Single- and double-cab versions were sold in staggering numbers in Europe, but U.S. President Lyndon Johnson placed a heavy tariff on the importation of European vehicles that could be classified as light trucks, leaving very few of these models available in the U.S., and that’s why they’re such a rare sight today. This beautifully restored 1960 Double-Cab Pickup is the work of a well-known Southern California VW enthusiast who for years had a special project in mind: the faithful creation of a Volkswagen model never offered by the factory. The completed truck has been the subject of numerous print articles which chronicle the year-long restoration and the realization of the owner’s dream: a Double-Cab Type 2 bedecked in a deluxe trim that had only been available for the Samba passenger van. One article states that, after an exhaustive search, this rare 1960 Double Cab was purchased at a VW swapmeet in 2003 and preparations for a full restoration were begun. The transporter was disassembled and catalogued, and sections of rust in the floors and substructure were carefully removed and replaced with correct body sections. The owner restored the major components at his home shop, while the body was finished by Leonardo’s Body Shop in Garden Grove, CA, in the VW color combination of Chestnut Brown over Sealing Wax Red. The interior, in the style of a deluxe original, was trimmed by Kustom 1 Upholstery in Orange, CA. The stock bumpers have been carefully polished, chrome plated and finished with rare factory corner guards, providing a custom-tailored look. A deluxe, color-keyed aluminum molding encircles the body just above the paint division line and a custom wood-slatted rack adorns the roof. For extra power, the engine was upgraded to a 1,600-cc unit, yet the engine bay retains a stock appearance with period engine shrouds and an original oil-bath air filter. Large logo wheel covers and Samba-style hinged front and rear windows were added to complete the deluxe package. This strikingly beautiful, one-of-a-kind commercial Volkswagen wears the hard-to-find tiny trim pieces that set a restoration apart and would be a wonderful accent to any collection. A show car in its own right, it is also a highly useful and capable machine.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1960 Volkswagen Double-Cab Pickup
Years Produced:1958-1967 (first generation)
Number Produced:515,218 (in 1960)
Original List Price:$2,330 (1960)
SCM Valuation:Stock, restored: $25,000-
Tune Up Cost:$100
Chassis Number Location:On serial number plate riveted to bulkhead, upper right side in engine bay
Engine Number Location:Stamped on crankcase generator support boss
Club Info:Vintage Volkswagen Club, P.O. Box 1016 Springdale, AR 72765
Alternatives:1961-64 Chevrolet Corvair 95, 1961-67 Ford Falcon Econoline pickup, 1964-67 Dodge A-100 pickup

This truck, Lot 9, sold for $70,400, including buyer’s premium, at Gooding and Company’s Amelia Island auction on March 11, 2011.

Volkswagen’s second sensation—the Type 2 vans—got off to a rudimentary start as a Beetle-powered flatbed parts mover in the Wolfsburg plant in the late 1940s. It took Ben Pon, the Dutch marketing genius who eventually made Volkswagen an American household word, to get it into production—initially as a van. It took the van a few years to catch on in the U.S.—although they were immediately popular in Europe—but by the late 1950s they were a force in the market.

While a pickup truck version was first available from the factory in 1952 (the factory was then the newly built Hanover plant designed exclusively for Type 2 production), that was a traditional style with a single bench seat—which Type 2 fans now call a Single Cab. A version with two rows of seating—some would call this a crew cab, but within the air-cooled VW Community, this is a Double Cab—was available as a post-VW conversion option.

From 1955 to 1959, Binz & Company did the conversion work to make a single cab into a Double Cab. While it was not a runaway success, it did well enough that VW elected to build them in-house starting in 1959. Oddly enough, the Binz conversions were mostly exported to the U.S., and are most easily identified from the later VW-built examples by the use of a single, rear-hinged “suicide” rear door. VW-built Double Cabs have a more traditional forward-hinged door

While the Double Cabs started to catch on globally as a standard VW offering in the 1960s, they also continued to be mildly popular in the U.S. By 1963, Ford and Chevrolet had van-based pickups. While neither one had a crew-cab version, the air-cooled, rear-engine Chevrolet Corvair 95 was available in two configurations: the Rampside (with a drop-down curbside ramp wide enough to cart typical appliances into the cargo bed) and the all-but-useless-except-as-a-washtub Loadside.

On the other hand, the Falcon-derived Ford Econoline was only available as a single offering. The water-cooled front engine design was excessively nose heavy—to the point of Ford installing counterweights in the rear to keep it from going face first into the pavement on a sudden stop. Yet, the Ford ended up winning the sales race in this segment.

Heavily taxed, in more ways than one

Just when it looked like the anemic—but well-liked—VW Type 2 pickups were starting to hit their stride, they became the victims of an international political squabble.

In the early 1960s, France and West Germany imposed a tariff on processed chicken from the U.S., followed by agricultural price fixing by the European Common Market. At the time, it was cheaper to import chicken from the vast U.S. poultry industry than to raise it locally, which undercut European chicken farming.

In response, the Johnson Administration fired back by imposing a 25-percent tariff on imported potato starch, dextrin, brandy—and with some prodding from the Big Three automakers and the UAW—light-duty trucks. UAW president Walter Reuther wanted the administration to do something to curtail import of the Volkswagens, which were gulping market share from U.S. automakers.

Johnson, who wanted to solidify the union vote for the 1964 elections and get their support for his civil rights platform, therefore included light trucks from Europe. Overnight, the Single- and Double-Cab Type 2s were priced out of the U.S. market, which made it impossible for them to compete with U.S.-made trucks.

The tariff didn’t apply to passenger cars, which included the Kombis and Campmobiles, as they had seating for passengers in the rear. Also, the passenger van versions of the Econoline and Corvair 95—the Falcon Station Bus and Greenbrier respectively—were actively marketed as cars; that was one fight that the Big Three wasn’t going to take to Wolfsburg or Hanover.

While the other commodities were eventually released from the tariff, the “chicken tax” on trucks is still in effect today—47 years later—and this explains why all automotive manufacturers do final assembly of their U.S.-market light trucks in the United States. It also explains why every single Ford Transit Connect comes here from Turkey with a rear seat, rear seat belts, and side windows—even though they are designed to be urban delivery vehicles.

Big bucks for one of none

While it was nicely redone, the fact remains that our featured truck really wasn’t restored in the true sense of taking a vehicle back to its original, as-new state.

Our subject vehicle is fitted with a later engine, exterior trim from a Deluxe van, high-gloss wood varnish on the non-stock bed floor skids and aftermarket roof rack—plus upholstery along the lines of a Deluxe van. No such critter was available new from Volkswagen—no matter how well it was optioned.

The strong price for our subject vehicle during the current state of flux for collector car values seems a bit out of line—mostly because so darn little is stock. As we’ve said for decades in these pages, once you deviate from stock, you are on your own.

However, as the changes to this Double-Cab Pickup look stock, the sellers seemed to have hit the jackpot on this one. While we have seen some cooling in Generation 1 Type 2 values, they now regularly knock the Type I Beetles out of the park.

We also see very strong prices on the best condition cars of all types—stock or modified—with trucks being no exception. Indeed, recent auction sales show that the highest-priced U.S.-made pickups tend to teeter away from bone stock. No self-respecting work truck in the early 1960s had extra chrome accessories, leather seating, and whitewall tires.

As this truck is, at best, someone’s fantasy of what a deluxe Double-Cab Samba may have been, we’ll call all bets off for a specific value.

That said, it seems as though air-cooled VW followers almost always prefer modified over stock. While this is still not the hot rod crowd, tactful and skillfully executed modifications will make bidders awash with or daddy’s trust fund money spend like drunken sailors for oddball Type 2 variants.

While one can pretty much claim that it would take this kind of money to build or restore a Double Cab to this level, we say this is still a lot of chicken feed to put out for what came home to roost.

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