Winning Amount: £ 7,500.00
User ID: V**b
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“We also make a funny-looking car” Advertisement for the Volkswagen ‘truck’, 1961
The Volkswagen Type 2, (the Type 1 was some short lived, flop of a thing known only to a handful aficionados, you won’t have heard of it, the ‘Beetle’, never caught on), with its cab-forward-smelly-oily-bits-underneath layout was born to be a super-flexible load/people carrying workhorse. With the propulsion gubbins low down at the back and the driver shoved right up front, the load space between was impressive for a machine with the same wheelbase as medium sized car. VW quickly capitalised on the original panel vans of 1949 adding a Microbus in 1950 and a single-cab flat-bed pick-up (perfect for carrying large numbers of hyphens around) in August 1952. With the height of the bed dictated by that of the albeit squat flat four engine, the space underneath between the people and engine compartments was utilised as a more secure and weatherproof load area. The Type 2’s small footprint already alluded to combined with a bed that could be accessed from three of its four sides made it a flexible bit of kit that could get you and your load to some otherwise inaccessible sites. Proving itself to be perfect for the trades who valued ease of loading and unloading more than the security and protection conventional enclosed vans offered, the pick-up appealed highly in period to ‘rough and tumble’ users such as builders. This did however tend to curtail the lifespans of pick-ups relative to other Type 2 variants, so finding a solid example that is still roughly the same shape it was fifty odd years ago is not easy.
Built to right hand drive specification in 1973 and dispatched from VW’s Hanover plant to South Africa, a nation for which the hard working utility vehicle could have been invented, this pick-up or Bakkie (literally ‘container’) as they are known out there is hence a T2 (a Type 2, Type 2 if you like). It therefore sports the ‘Bay Window’ front screen, front disc brakes and beefier 12 volt electrics. The constant velocity joint rear suspension is a significant improvement over the earlier machines' Beetle derived swing axle arrangement which had led to some ‘challenging’ suspension geometry when allied to the Type 2’s higher ride height; lift off oversteer perhaps being acceptable in a 300 SL Gullwing supercar but not a load lugger like the VW.
It is not known to what use the VW was put for the entirety of its life in the Southern Hemisphere though the removable sticker graphics that currently adorn it suggest it has recently been employed as a working promotional tool for a hydro dipping company. There is also footage available here of it being used as a drinking water carrier as part of the VW specialists “Beetle Pirates” entourage for the ‘Cars in the Park’ event at Zwartkops Raceway last year, though it was then sporting ‘Gulf’ livery. The world of multi-coloured swirly art and bottled water transportation don’t seem to have stretched the VW too much and whatever its working life over the past forty-seven years, there is thankfully little evidence of it ever having involved particularly hard labour.
Imported in March this year, with the appropriate NOVA paperwork issued on 3rd April confirming all duties have been paid, the pick-up is ready for a new owner to take it to the next level.
Climbing underneath (thank you generous, commercial vehicle ride height) we were expecting to find little rust but perhaps some physical evidence of a hard life on roads that make the woeful state of some of ours look like a snooker table. Right and wrong; virtually no rust with super solid chassis members and floors but fewer dinks and donks than one might realistically expect for a working vehicle. We did spot one slightly frayed area at the bottom of a non-structural inner front wing visible only from under the VW and shown in the photo gallery. The jacking points are all super-solid and the whole of the underside looks to be as strong as the day it left the Factory. Sure there is a bit of road grime and plenty of dust but the mig welder can stand down. There are one or two flakes in the possibly original underseal but these only reveal sound underlying metal and we could find no evidence of any welding having been carried out. Now introduced to the somewhat less steel friendly climate of the UK, some underbody protection of the Waxoyl type would doubtless maintain the VW’s structure in its current never-rusted state – a far better proposition than trying to keep on top of already established rot.
It is not as if the metalwork has been protected by fluids issuing from either the engine or gearbox, both units being admirably oil tight with just the slightest weep from the engine. A number of new components are evident, some presumably fitted while the VW was in the care of Beetle Pirates, plus some that have been fitted since the its arrival in the UK. The owner has noted a considerable sharpening up of the steering as a result of his fitting various new linkages, along with some new brake and gear selector parts.
Back up top the pick-up has had a reasonably well executed repaint at some stage and looking beyond that and it is clear that the bodywork is actually remarkably sound. As is, it would not be an embarrassment at your local car show but it would make a good basis for comprehensive strip and repaint should the new owner be so inclined. The deck area of the transporter is finished in a very practical rubberised ‘elephants skin’ paint to cushion careless loading blows and protect the underlying metalwork. The doors and belly locker hatches fit quite well – we’ve seen worse – though the slightly crude hinges and catches of the drop sides to the pick-up bed do not make for perfect alignment of these large panels. There is a little paint cracking and resultant rust around the drop side hinges as shown in the photo gallery but early application of an inhibitor (or good old engine oil) should keep that at bay.
There isn’t much chrome on the pick-up, just a couple of door handles, headlight surrounds, a belly locker release some window trim and two door mirrors but it is all pretty good although the mirrors could do with a polish.
A strange circular crack in the windscreen will unfortunately probably force its replacement but it is shared with other T2s and new ‘screens are readily available for less than £100.
The functional but good looking white painted ‘steelies’ have a few chips to their finish and these along with the matching bumpers and grills offset the baby blue bodywork beautifully – just a nice, simple two colour machine - while the whitewall tyres fitted have loads of tread left.
A little reluctant when cold, by the end of our photography session and some stop/start manoeuvring, the engine was running very sweetly, the Giga-Tech electronic ignition and Blue Bosch coil fitted obviously worthwhile upgrades. The exhaust seemed to have a slight blow but hey, one man’s blowing is another man’s sporty. The engine bay itself is desert-dry with plenty of South African dust still present.
Inside the functional cab, heat cracks in the dashboard top and steering wheel are present and the door cards have been removed (but are included in the sale) for attention to the inoperable driver’s side door handle and both window winders which are slipping on their splines. Comfortable bucket seats are fitted and these are in very good order while the pool ball gear knob is a bit of fun; wonder where VW got the idea for their Golf ball version… A Sony single CD player provides the soundzz.
The pick-up’s history file is slim but importantly contains the NOVA paperwork and South African Registration Documents along with the recent bills for parts fitted since she has been in the UK.
Running and driving nicely but not yet MOT tested, the pick-up will undoubtedly require some further light recommissioning but its super-solid nature will ensure this is a simple and rewarding experience. Once this is completed the range of opportunities is virtually endless; from eye-catching mobile advertising space or classy promotional vehicle for your small business to super-cool historic single seater transportation. Alternatively it could be just the thing for your weekly ‘big shop’.