VW Buses (kombi buses) started skyrocketing in value a little over a decade ago. We saw restored buses going for six figures (one went for $212k in 2012) more and more. This facilitated the rise of the Brazilian VW Kombi as people in Brazil realized they were sitting on a gold mine. This is because in 1967, VW planned to make the new bay window bus and shipped all parts for the split window bus to Brazil to continue the splitty’s production until 1975 (see my blog entry on the history of the VW bus in Brazil). Simply put, this is why there were so many split window buses in Brazil.
Because of that large supply of split window buses, along with a new found strong demand for said buses not only in the US but all across Europe (especially in Germany and the U.K.), we saw many people in Brazil capitalize on this new market.Brazilians are a wonderful group of people with a wonderful culture (I spend quite a lot of time in Brazil) but one aspect of that culture is that they will cut corners to get ahead.In Brazilian business culture, you are considered smart and clever.This is the root of where some folks gave Brazilian buses a bad reputation.
As someone who helps clients import VW Kombis, I’m hear to tell you that this bad reputation is often true.I’d estimate a little over half of the buses that Brazilians send to the US, Europe and around the world, have shortcuts all over them.Most notably is the liberal use of bondo.Bondo is used to smooth out body surfaces, holes and other defects in the body work.Used on small areas it can be an effective tool for an auto body shop.But too often, Brazilians use it in liberal doses covering rust and larger areas where they should just replace the whole panel with spec formed sheet metal.
Aside from this corner cutting, Brazilians will indeed try to take advantage anywhere they can, from the negotiating process to the length of the restoration.If there is a way to eke out more profit, they’ll make it happen.I’ve seen these exporter have the kombi almost complete but they then send the customer an invoice on extra work that was needed.
So knowing all of this, why would you buy a Brazilian bus?Well, if you can take advantage of the lower prices (Brazilian kombis are a fraction of the price for a German bus) AND feel confident in YOUR bus’ restoration quality, it comes out to a great investment and you get all the joy and satisfaction that the owner of a bus that was manufactured in a German VW factory instead of a Brazilian VW factory.
And this is where the VW Bus Guy team can help.We give you piece of mind that you have an American company not only holding your hand throughout the process, but also holding the suppliers we use in Brazil for the restoration process accountable.You will be able to see the entire process documented as well as have me or someone from my team overseeing the operation in person.
We are not the only outfit bringing kombis into the US and Europe. There are dozens of outfits run by Brazilians that are less expensive. Many are great people that are great to do business with. But too many will put lipstick on a pig or just advertise kombis that are on the US equivalent of Craigslist giving you the impression that they own that bus. When in reality, the bus could have any number of issues. In this model, they not only charge you but charge the seller for buying their bus. Working with VW Bus Guy costs a little more but the comfort of knowing you won’t be taken advantage of is worth the small premium.
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Hi! My name is Scott Mills and I'm the VW Bus Guy. I travel to Brazil to find and restore Kombi Buses (the Brazilian name for VW Buses).