You’ve made the decision to invest in a VW bus (Kombi) from Brazil. Whether it be for the pure joy of driving down the road to see all the people pointing at your beauty with big ol’ smiles on their face, as a hedge against inflation (yes, that’s a thing), because the dollar is super strong at the moment or a multitude of reasons….great! Now you need to decide what kind of bus and budget you have for your new toy.
First, let’s explore the restoration route. This is by far the best option…for some people. The pros are both obvious and obscure. Obviously you’ll be able to create your kombi the way you want it (choice of color scheme is huge) with new and refurbished parts. This is especially important when it comes to the body. As discussed in a previous post, Brazilian buses are stereotyped by purists as being “bondo buses”. Stereotypes are usually based in fact as is the case here. You will not know if your bus has a bunch of bondo on it unless you go the restoration route. The good news is that you can get a restored bus for not much more than a previously restored bus. You also usually have a lot more equity in the vehicle also meaning it will often resale for more should you decide to sell it.
The downside of restoring a kombi vs. a project or previously restored bus is, first and foremost, time. Depending on the bus, supplier and what you want done, it can take 3-10 months or more. We are just now recovering from a huge log jam of orders that were held up from COVID lockdowns in Brazil. It’s still a struggle (though less & less) on getting parts needed for the various phases of a project. So when I say it’s a no-brainer for some, I’m talking mostly about those that can be patient for the process it takes to restore a kombi.
Need your VW fix as soon as possible? While we sometimes have vehicles in inventory, we are moving away from that model since it’s too costly and you’ll need to pay a premium due to that relative to just shipping one from Brazil. We can have one shipped in as little as 3-45 days.
We have a network of suppliers in Brazil to find “as-is” kombis. Within this category are previously restored kombis. Here, we work with our network of supplies as well as have them work with buses available on the Brazilian equivalent of Craigslist, to find a bus that can be a hidden gem for you. We actually will meet with the seller, give the vehicle a once over and test drive. Then we pre-negotiate the price. If it’s a vehicle you want to move forward on, we take it to the shop and put it on a lift to get a more detailed look to make sure you know what you’re getting. If there are repairs needed, we can have that done for you or at least you know what’s needed to be done by you or by your local air cooled mechanic.
Some may just want a project to work on where we get them something cheap but with a decent body. Others really do want one that has that wow factor but they don’t want to wait the time it will take. On the previously restored buses, we can often find you great deals but you do run the risk of not knowing if a lot of bondo was used. That said, some want to take that risk thinking if the worst case happens, they have some savings from going with a previously restored bus to help pay for any issues that arise in the future.
I highly recommend going the restoration route as it will be your bus through and through but there can be a lot of value had in getting a project or a previously restored bus so you need to figure out what’s best for you.
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Owner – VW Bus Guy