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What Do YOU Look For When Buying A Bus? FAQ
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jjrizzuto
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2011 6:38 am    Post subject: What Do YOU Look For When Buying A Bus? FAQ Reply with quote

Hello everyone, my name is Josh. I'm new to being a member of the Samba. I've read posts and went through forums on an almost daily basis for probably the last 6 months, but never actually joined as a member. I don't own a bus just yet, however I am looking for one. Before anyone says it, I already own a Bentley (yes, imagine that. I own a Bentley, but not a bus Rolling Eyes ). I plan on changing the fuel lines when I buy a bus. And yes, I'll have a fire extinguisher for it when I actually get a bus.

That being said, after roughly a half hour of searching, I haven't found any concrete answers to my question. So I figured this thread could be a useful one for future reference to anyone considering buying a bus. So, What is that YOU look for when buying a bus? Any specific things in relation to the mechanical/electrical/cosmetic/"patina"? Do you crawl under the bus looking at axles and such?

Any information would be much appreciated as I plan to take a look at a '79 Transporter tomorrow! Thanks again!
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bsairhead
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2011 6:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Besides rust, not too much. You can rebuild the drive-train and the brakes cheaper than a body-man can weld and sand and prep and paint.
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Tcash
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2011 7:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi JJ here is a good link to start with. It took me two years to find one. In my experience they are either really really bad or real nice with the price tag to match. The ones in between are far and few. So dependiing on your budget and how much sweat equity your are willing to put in will play a factor in what you buy. They say you don't pick the bus the bus picks you. I thought sure. Until 2yrs of looking, went to just look at a camper, for what I wanted it was the wrong year,wright top,wrong engine,half of wright camping stuff,needed electrical work. Did I pick what I wanted NO she picked me. My only advise is to do as much research as you can and if you are not comfortable with inspecting the vehicle have it took to a shop that specializes in VWs and have them do a prebuy inspection if you can. The 150 to 200 bucks you spend can save you thousands in the end and remember rust never sleaps. Good Luck
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=149447
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AB westy nut
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2011 8:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think purchasing a bus is a completely individual experience. There are buses of every age, shape and condition out there. Some people are only interested in the 'time capsules' that are complete and original and not hacked up by a PO. Others are happy picking up a $500 rusty runner and driving it until the wheels fall off. In all cases though, I would look at safety first: how are the fuel lines, brakes, suspension, tires, seats, windshield, etc. Look for any evidence of hard hits like welds or Bondo. Look for rust in the critical areas like the front beam and frame rails. Also check the buyers guide in the stickies in this forum. Good luck!
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ned
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2011 8:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I look for as rust free as possible. Battery tray rust is almost a give in. Rusty front floors is very common but easily treatable. The worst is the raingutter and windshield bezel rust. Its gonna depend where you live as to the degree of rust available.
That is about the appearance. If its got a rusty beam or framerails I just forget about it. Most else can be repaired. But there are those that are able to resurrect the dead ones.
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Blaubus
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2011 9:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

if you just want to drive it ugly, then rust free is all you need. but if you want to paint it, then you must have both rustfree and straight(dings allowed).

the realities of autobody work are such that large dented areas must be cut out just the same way rust must be cut out. when metal is dented deep, it stretches- if you attempt to hammer that deep dent flat, it will either bulge outward or inward, but will never be just right flat. this is important because body fillers will crack in the sun if applied in layers more than 1/10" thick- the filler is only so flexible, and it needs to stretch as the metal expands in the heat. it can only do this in thin layers.
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pozz907420
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2011 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

a title is always good to look for.Can be a PITA to get one later on
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jjrizzuto
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2011 2:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So besides the frame rails and front axle beam, are there are any other problematic spots? The '79 I'm looking at tomorrow has a little "patina" on the inside by the slider door. The owner says that it does not affect the door because it's not close to the door. I haven't been able to visually confirm that though. Does anybody know if that will/could be a total PITA?
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rovnrev
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2011 4:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

that depends on whether you want a driver out of the box or a project? and to what degree project.

all you really need is a title preferably clean.

search craigslist, thesamba, ebay, collectorcartrader. then on a saturday get up early fill up the big gulp and drive as many as you can. i take a digital camera and a notebook with pen to take notes and pictures otherwise i confuse which ones i looked at. that will give you an idea of what condition local buses are and what the prices are. drive everything from the trailer queen to rust bucket so you know what a bus can be and what a bus in price range will be
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jjrizzuto
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2011 4:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rovnrev wrote:
drive everything from the trailer queen to rust bucket so you know what a bus can be and what a bus in price range will be


Now that is a damn good piece of advice! Thanks for all the replies everyone. As to what kind of project, I don't really care either way. If I can make it run and the body is good, that's a good starting point. Something that runs and has a good body would be ideal, but so far I've had no such luck in finding one. I'm really only looking for a good body (aren't we all? Cool ) that I can restore on my own while driving. Not as a daily, but something I can just go for a ride in.
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VW_T25_BOB
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2011 7:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

look for one you like and don't be afraid to run away if it isn't "the one". Good busses here in Pa aren't on every street for sale. You will most likely find one someone else gave up on for some reason. Keep within YOUR own fixing ability or things get real expensive if you have to pay someone else to fix it. I looked for the least rusty bus I could afford and drove three hours with a Uhaul trailer to Virginia to get it. I dont have a welder and can't paint. Mine needed a fair amount of mechanical work that I could fix. I did have to change the trans after my second time around the block and there is always something to fix on a old VW. Tinkering is half the fun ( and headache) for me. Most important is to get one thats within your ability and budget. Anything can be fixed with $$$, but who has any these days. Good luck with your search.
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jjrizzuto
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2011 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, fortunately enough for me, my brother is a mechanic, and has offered to help me restore it for free because he genuinely enjoys working on cars. Cool So from a mechanical stand point, I'm covered. My uncle does just ridiculous body work, and he's always willing to help me out which is a plus. And trust me, I have a pretty good handle on when I should walk away. I might be a little young, but I'm not quite as stupid as the rest of the population my age. ( 18 )
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just added this topic to the Bay Window FAQ.

If anyone has any other advice to add, please add to this thread so other new or interested owners can have your experience.

If you know of any other "How to Buy" threads on the site, please PM me link(s). and I will add those to the FAQ too.

Thank you.
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aeromech
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A lot of good points have already been made but let me try to condense it all to the following check list:

1) Proper paperwork, title, maintenance records, owners manual, etc.
2) Rust. Top and bottom
3) Body straight? Doors open and close correctly, etc.
4) Electrical hacking. It's hard to fix a bus that's been electrically hacked
5) Drive train. Engine and transmission condition
6) Interior. Are most of the knobs, seats, cranks, etc there?
7) Original owner or almost original = premium price
Cool Original paint or original VW color. Other colors = reduced price
9) Headliner. A good one adds to the price. Bad one detracts from it
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Collie
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I look for a bus, I like to look for 2 important things.

1) L63H
2) Auto
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420GOAT
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bsairhead wrote:
Besides rust, not too much. You can rebuild the drive-train and the brakes cheaper than a body-man can weld and sand and prep and paint.


BULLSHIT.
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Brionp
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought I looked pretty well for rust on my bus. But there were two places that got me. Behind the front bumper on the lower corners of the nose. And the rear windows, between the wind wings and the big windows. Pretty common places for rust now that I know. And check anything that is made of rubber. Every single piece on my 71 was shot. Again, in hindsight it should have been obvious.
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420GOAT
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PAPERWORK
ELECTRICAL
ENGINE
TRANS
BODY....it all ads up from there.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2012 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Title
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2012 9:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You might be young for such things to seem important but VW made a concerted effort to improvr frony seat crash survivability that resulted in 1973 and later bays being a lot safer. They designed a front structural "Y" frame that extends forward that significantly beefed up the previously collapsable front face. There's a thread with image describing the whole package in these stickies: http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=149447

Because my HS best friend's little brother has been a paraplegic since age 17 as a result of a splitty head on wreck a '73 or later was up there on my list this time around.
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