Lately it’s been a trend for folks to buy/build a VW bus camper with a pop top with the purpose to rent it out as a stream of income.There are a few things to consider when doing this and a lot of it depends on if you’re renting a T1 (split window bus) or the next generation of VW bus, the T2 (bay window bus).
The pros of a T1 splitty are obvious.The iconic exterior, the value of the investment and the unmistakable looks of admiration and straight up joy you see from passersby.You’ll never see me talk bad about T1’s but if you do plan on buying it with the purpose, you should be aware of a few drawbacks.For one, the vehicle was designed in the 50’s.Handling on these beautiful creations are a bit touchy compared to later models like the bay window.Frequent preventive maintenance is always highly suggested for both models but even more so if you’re planning on renting it out to different people throughout the month.In that same vein of thinking, a manual transmission in the hands of a driver that is not used to it can cause frequent gearbox replacement to be an issue. Automatic transmissions were not standard and I haven’t heard of automatic conversions being done on a T1 (not to say it couldn’t but that’s an additional challenge).Last is heat and AC.As with the auto transmission, heat and AC weren’t included in Brazilian model T1’s and conversions to that are more difficult than ones for their T2 counterparts.
On the plus side (in addition to the aforementioned obvious ones), you can pick your price when renting out your beauty.I’ve seen some that are well restored renting for over $1000/night.However, I’m sure the $300-500/night price range is more feasible.It all depends on how active you want to be in renting out your bus.There’s a lot to be said in marketing your bus as a high end novelty with the understanding that you’ll make a lot more per night with less frequency.This approach may or may not net you more dough but not having as much wear and tear can more than make up for any price/quantity differential.I’d imagine that a good chunk of our buyers that are renting these out are doing so simply to pay for the vehicle instead of focusing on it as an actual income stream.
Moving on to the T2.While most would rather have a T1 for aesthetic reasons and other benefits such as re-sale value, to me a T2 presents a ton better if you’re renting out your bus weekly with the main goal of cash flow and maximizing booking dates.As a newer technological design relative to the T1, it can be ran more often as a “workhorse” than its T1 predecessor.It also is much easier to upgrade to AC and automatic transmission.Last, a triangular pop-top tent (similar to pop top Westfalias) can add sleeping for two kids in addition to two adults in the main cabin whereas you’re limited in room for two adults to sleep in a T1.
Either way you choose, it should be a fun adventure and it’s nice to see people using it as a way to pay off their investments.As always, if you want to know more or need help in buying or buying and restoring a bus, send me a DM or email as I geek out on this stuff ;).
Owner – VW Bus Guy
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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).