This tantalisingly rare right-hand-drive 1959 Volkswagen Samba Campervan will go on under the hammer in England next month, being valued at nearly a R1-million by the auction house.
The model in question is the sought-after 23-window version, which is widely considered the “Holy Grail” of Volkswagen Campers.
The Camper was originally built in Germany in 1959, before being sent to South Africa, where it spent the first 40 years of its life. It was then exported to the United Kingdom, where it was later restored to full original condition.
Here in South Africa, split-window VW busses (as they are affectionately known) are collectors’ items. While it is somewhat of a pity that this specimen left our shores, it seems it could not have been placed under better care.
The current owner treated the ’59 Camper to a comprehensive, nuts-and-bolts restoration – taking place over three years – stripping the vehicle down to bare metal in the process. A cabinet-maker by trade, the owner restored the original woodwork himself using an authentic Devon interior.
The auction house says the restoration involved only original parts or new “old stock” items. New window frames were fitted and the exterior was resprayed in the original Beige White and Sealing Wax Red colour scheme.
The only non-original aspect of the ’59 Camper is what powers its wheels. The vehicle features an overhauled 1600 twin-port engine built by Bear VW Services in Birmingham. The same engineers were also responsible for rebuilding the gearbox.
Since the restoration, the Camper has travelled some 3 380 km and is said to be able to “cruise comfortably at 65 mph” [about 105 km/h].
Classic Car Auctions expects this Camper to fetch somewhere between R769 500 and R940 500.
If you’re interesting in classic VWs, make sure to grab yourself a copy of the June issue of CAR magazine to read about Gerhard Ryksen’s extensive local collection.