1968 Volkswagen Westfalia Campmobile - $34,900
     
  • Overview & History
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Virtually everything is new and ready to tour the countryside.

The American automotive landscape is vast and diverse, but it still seems anachronous to see that the humble VW microbus would become an indelible part of our car culture. As much as '57 Chevys and Mustangs and Cadillac land yachts, the versatile, simple, and downright funky VW has earned its place among the icons of rolling culture. Is it their familiarity on the highways of America during the 1960s and 1970s? The happy personality that they represent? Their affordability and economy? Their permanent role in the development of rock & roll? Perhaps it's just the fact that no matter who you are, a VW microbus has made an impact on your life, either as a childhood memory or as a real-life time machine.

Which brings us to this wonderful 1968 Volkswagen microbus, which in official factory terms, is called the Campmobile. Subcontracted to familiar VW partner Westfalia, it grabbed the burgeoning RV movement of the 1960s, merged it with the travelling counter-culture that crisscrossed the country following music and free expression, creating something that no other manufacturer has ever been able to duplicate. There were actually two models of Campmobile, each featuring the unique pop-up roof that expanded head room inside: the base model that we have here and the deluxe model with built-in stove, sink, and refrigerator. This is perhaps the most nicely restored example we've seen, benefitting from a quality mechanical and cosmetic restoration several years ago that rejuvenated the Bus, returning it to factory spec and making it ideal for the collector who still likes to travel.

The color looks rather close to VW's Peru Green, and it is this VW's original color. It has been repainted only once and has always lived in the warm southern US, so rust is a non-issue. As a result, extensive bodywork was not required to get it laser-straight and the final finish is quite nice, showing only very minor signs of use. The Microbus was revised for 1968, getting slightly larger and more comfortable, but losing none of the typical VW build quality that made these vehicles (and their sibling, the Beetle) so famous. The doors swing open easily and latch securely, the side door moves on well-oiled bearings, and you'll note that the gaps throughout are uniform. Some of that is surely due to careful workmanship during the restoration, but most of it is just how these were built—these are tough little machines! The familiar VW emblem on the nose is bright chrome, but most of the other bits, including the bumpers and grilles, are painted white to match the Westfalia-installed pop-up roof. Two big side mirrors, a panoramic windshield that was a big step up from the original dual-pane windscreens, and transom-style windows on the sides make it bright and airy inside and remarkably easy to maneuver. You'll note that this one still carries its 115V hook-up on the side, allowing the lights to be used without draining the battery, and correct taillights are fitted in back. The windows have been tinted for privacy and a few VW-appropriate decals were affixed, but otherwise it remains very much as the factory intended.

But it's inside that this little VW really shines. Virtually everything is new and ready to tour the countryside. Up front, driver and passenger are treated to fresh bucket seats with tan cloth inserts that are all-day comfortable. The driving position is still very much like a city bus and it takes some getting used to the fact that the wheels are under your seat, but within a few minutes of hitting the road, it will feel quite natural, trust me. Front seat passengers get heavy-duty rubber floor coverings that are ready for anything, as well as a set of neatly tailored tan vinyl door panels. Instrumentation is as basic as the Beetle, with only a speedometer and fuel gauge for reference, and these appear to be original and unrestored. Lights, signals, and other ancillaries are all fully operational. Heat is mediocre, as you'd expect from an air-cooled vehicle, but there's pleasing ventilation that keeps you cool on warm days and a neat twin cup holder has been installed in the center of the dash. There's also an Alpine AM/FM/CD stereo that sounds great thanks to speakers stashed throughout the cabin.

Slide the rear door open and you can see why these are special. The first thing you notice is the dinette in the center, which makes a welcoming environment. There are useful storage cubbies stashed throughout so there's plenty of room for your gear and again, the floor is durable rubber that's easy to maintain. Pop the top and there's enough room for full-sized adults to stand and move around and all the canvas is new, including the screens, so it's ready to camp. Lights, curtains, upholstery, and other details are all in excellent condition and ready to use. In back, there's a good-sized cargo bay above the engine compartment and it includes a full-sized spare tire, just in case.

Part of the VW's appeal is that getting there is part of the fun, and while the 1600 cc air-cooled flat-4 is bulletproof reliable, fast it is not. Top speed is around 60 MPH and it'll hang there all day if you force it, but back it off a tick to, say, 55, and everything feels mellow and smooth. The engine is fully rebuilt and recently tuned with a new carburetor, fresh ignition system, freshly adjusted valves, and we have receipts adding up to more than $6,000 for all the service that's been done in the last two years to get it into top condition. It fires with that characteristic VW whistling exhaust note and idles nicely, even when it's cold. There's a good hit of low-end torque that gets the bus moving without a lot of drama, and once you master the rather vague-feeling shifter (the linkage has to reach aaaaalll the way back there!) it's easy to hustle this VW around town. The engine bay shows proper hardware and equipment, retaining all the original heat tubing, a Bosch distributor, cap, and coil, as well as a correct single downdraft carburetor. No questionable modifications or "upgrades" here, just clean and solid. It seems to have no bad habits, which suggests all that money spent on tuning it up was well spent, and you shouldn't hesitate to use this VW as intended: touring the countryside.

The undercarriage is still largely original, but you can see that it has never lived in a snowy climate and has not been attacked by rust. All the suspension members are in excellent shape, the box-section reinforcements to the uni-body are as new, and the factory welds are visible everywhere you look. This is not some patched-up rust bucket. The front suspension offers newer shocks and tie rods for the steering, while the axles and CV joints out back are brand new, as is the original 4-speed manual transaxle. A correct dual-outlet exhaust system adds the right sound but it quiets down to almost inaudible at cruising speed, making this a very comfortable way to get around. The brakes also feature new wheel cylinders and there are fresh 195/75/14 blackwall radials at all four corners that have less than 50 miles on them.

You are sure to see more of these getting high-quality restorations in the future, particularly since the 21- and 23-window variants have skyrocketed in price. And what hobby vehicle could be more endearing, practical, and easy to live with than this? Call today!

Vehicle: 1968 Volkswagen Westfalia Campmobile
Price: $34,900
Stock Number: 114138
Mileage: 22,967
VIN: 238037005
Engine: 1600 cc flat-4
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Gear Ratio: 5.37
Wheelbase: 94.5 inches
Wheels: 14-inch steel wheels with hubcaps
Tires: 195/75/14 blackwall radial
Exterior Color: Peru Green
Interior Color: Tan cloth
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