Motoette -in forward motion

The plight of a little 1970 Volkswagen bus known as Dorothy–Page 2

This whole bus ownership “thing” was looking a little more involved than just picking out a car and buying it. Matt and I needed to get a brush-up course on VW buses and fast! If you talk to anyone who owns a vintage bus (and we did our share at the bus fests), they will talk about it as if it’s a person, with all the “aches and pains” and little idiosyncrasies, unlike any another of its own kind. Not to mention the commitment of time, money and love that each and every bus owner bequeath upon their prized investment.  It’s no wonder dedicated bus owners typically name their bus a female name. Like Daisy, Flo or even…Dorothy, to authenticate its individual existence!

A barn door  23 window VW Bus

A barn door 23 window VW Bus

Now if you are like me, I wasn’t aware of the bus “lingo” amongst the family of vintage bus owners. For instance; a splitty or a split window refers the pre 1968 model bus. It has the two separate windscreen windows at the front of the bus. It has also been written that the “V” design on the nose of the bus and front roof-line was designed for aerodynamic purposes, because, it basically…uh, well, didn’t have any!

The bay window refers to the post 1967 model and has a standard one-piece windscreen. All VW buses have an “air-cooled” engine at the rear (adopted after its older sibling the Beetle) and a displacement smaller than most average motorcycles! It wasn’t until the mid-70’s when Volkswagen started (to some people’s dismay) improving the engine dynamics and brake systems.

A “barn door” bus is a splitty with a larger engine compartment door and 11, 13, 15, 21 and 23 split window buses, refers to (obviously), the number of windows it has. The more windows, the more desirable it is. I have discovered that the 23 window Deluxe rag top splitty is probably the most expensive bus on the market, ranging from $50 to $100K in excellent refurbished condition. Serious split window buyers will not hesitate to lay down 10, 15 or 20 thousand dollars for a rusted old skeleton of a bus which was most likely sitting buried in the back of a barn for 30 years or more.  With our growing knowledge of valuable information, it was evident; these vintage buses were now considered an investment, than a form of transportation.

As we dug deeper into the Volkswagen bus’ ancestry, the more we discovered the fundamental foundation for its individuality started in the factories themselves. Not just the Volkswagen factory in Germany, manufacturing the original models, but camper converting companies like Sundial (out of CA) and Westfalia (in Germany). To put their own touch on the stock buses, by converting panel buses and deluxe models with sunroofs into pop-up campers, just for an example. This created a never-ending assortment of one-off VW bus models and designs so illustrious bus owners could advertise their true inner-authentic beingness…or something like that?? Anyway, I am aware there are other manufacturers out there, like Riviera, Road Runner, EZ Camper and Dormobile, but I know I will invariably leave a few out only because I’m still in the learning process. Feel free to help a girl out 🙂

A Riviera camper conversion

A Riviera camper conversion


As for Dorothy, it was strongly suggested to us, by Dave, (the owner of Dorothy) to have her transported back to California. This suggestion came from a sense of responsibility by him, whom I had total respect for; after all, he knew Dorothy and her capabilities better than anyone. Matt had endorsed Dave’s strong encouragement as well to me, until one afternoon while Matt and I were hanging out in the back garden suspended in our new “gravity” chairs on a warm English summer’s day. I don’t know if was because we were so relaxed and enjoying the rareness of a sunny day, but I brought up the idea of driving the bus back to California again to Matt and he went for it! He didn’t even argue with me! Okay, so I did sugar coat it a little, by saying we could drive back by way of route 66. Let’s face it, how cool would it be to fly to Wichita Kansas, pick up a vintage VW bus and drive sections of Route 66 and 1,800 miles back to California?? Now we only had to convince Dave!

More to come…..

“The Wizard of OZ says; look inside yourself and find self. God says, look inside yourself and find the Holy Spirit. The first will get you to Kansas. The later will get you to heaven” Max Lucado



September 20, 2013 - Posted by | Volkswagen Bus | , , , , , , ,

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