Smoke & Mırrors
VW CAMPER & BUS|June 2019

We thought the title was pretty clever, but smoke and windows is probably more apt. Everything is not quite as it seems…

James Peene

A few months back we were at a VW specialists to watch a new Samba roof clip being grafted onto what was a 13-window Microbus. The talk in the workshop entrusted with this task was that purists, and those lucky enough to own a factory-built 21- or 23-window would scream blue murder at the notion anyone would have the audacity to do such a thing. Fake! It’s not real! This sort of thing devalues our Buses, is the sort of stuff we imagined they’d say. Heck, we even know of one supplier of these roof kits who would only sell you one if you owned a genuine Samba to put it on. No fooling!

And yet, that’s not how we feel about this sort of thing. If we’re honest and we had a Bus that needed a roof swap, well why wouldn’t you fit a Samba panel rather than a regular one? As long as you’re not trying to pass it off as the genuine article then where’s the harm in it? Anyone looking to buy it would only have to check the VIN number and M-codes to see if it left the factory with roof windows originally.

If you feel differently, that’s perfectly okay. Opinions are like belly buttons in that everyone has one and some are more agreeable than others. So it might come as a shock for you to learn that the Bus you’re looking at here didn’t leave the factory as a full-blown Deluxe, but a vastly more humble Barndoor Panel Van. Yes, you read that right. It couldn’t be any further from what it is now unless maybe it was a Type 25 Double Cab…

Repeat prescription

The Bus you see here was built and is owned by Mike Riley. That’s a name that may ring a few bells with our long term readers. We featured his WFIL Radio liveried 23-window Samba in our June 2014 and prior to that, his gold Samba on Porsche Design 90s way, way back in 2009. So Mike is clearly a man who enjoys his Split Screen Buses and getting his hands dirty.

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