First of all, I’m obviously biased in favor of owning a VW Bus or I wouldn’t be helping folks build or find the bus they’ve always been craving.That disclaimer out of the way, there are a few things negative to a lot of things positive that one should know before owning a bus.
I’ll start with the negatives as I consider myself a positive person and would prefer to end with the positives.The first item that comes to mind is maintenance.VW buses are fickle beasts if you don’t do preventive maintenance.It’s highly recommended that you see your local “air cooled” mechanic at least twice a year.Costs are not that much for these tune-ups but will really go a long way to avoiding issues that need not arise.As with any older vehicle, make sure you check the oil often and change it when needed.
As much as this preventive maintenance helps, people should be aware that Kombis do often leak small amounts of engine oil.You just need to monitor the oil pan that you should put under the rear if your bus does have a small leak.A drop or two isn’t much of a concern but if you are concerned about it, drop it off at your trusted air cooled mechanic to check it out for you.
Cost is one of those things that you can chalk up to either a pro or a con.It’s no secret that both Brazilian kombis and German made ones (both are VW’s and check out previous posts to see the explanation for the differences) have skyrocketed in value over the last decade.The glass half empty view says the cost will hit your bank account.The glass half full view says the supply of buses will continue to shrink and the demand should stay the same or even increase into the foreseeable future.
Okay, now the fun part in describing the pros.Hands down the most fun “pro” for me is the experience of making people smile.I often call kombis “smile makers” as it’s rare that you cruise a mile down the road without seeing someone smile, point, give a thumbs up or some other type of reaction.Not to get too metaphysical but you are indeed bringing positive energy into a lot of people’s lives. I’ve often seen people driving the other way with jaws literally dropped with looks of stunned astonishment as we pass each other followed by them flipping a “U-ee” to catch up with me to get a closer look.Be prepared to have people approach you over half the time when you’re filling up at the gas station to give you props, to ask what year she is or to tell you how they used to have one back in the day.
Another “pro” is the driving experience.VW buses have a terrible turning radius, no power steering and are among the slowest vehicles on the road but it somehow makes for a great drive.Having the safari windows upfront (I recommend this inexpensive feature to everyone as our best bang for the buck add on) open with the wind hitting your face (please wear shades or glasses) is an adventure that everyone should have on their bucket list.Safaris also act as your old school air-conditioner to :).
It kind of goes with the first “pro” but there is a car enthusiast scene in most cities that’s really fun.In Golden, CO for example they put on the Supercruise every first Saturday from April through October.Car lovers from all over the region come early to pick the good parking spots along the cruise route.Some will sit in front of their car in lawn chairs hanging out with friends as they watch some beautiful (sometimes quirky) vehicles cruise along the route.Within the car enthusiast group is the VW enthusiast sub-culture.I’ve found this to be a super fun way to meet new friends and bond over the shared experience.
Whether you’ve always wanted a VW bus, are just buying it for an investment or some other reason.I’m sure you’ll find unexpected “pros” yourself.If you have any questions on this, my other posts or anything that relates to kombis, feel free to reach out via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The 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).