European ClassicsVolkswagen

23 Window Volkswagen Microbus

The value of the 23 window Volkswagen microbus has been holding steady above $100k with examples on Hemmings and recent auctions in the $125k-175k range. As you’ll see below, red and white is the most popular color! The official red color name is Sealing Wax Red.

The VW van is iconic, but the ones that command the highest price are the 23 window up through 1963, and the 21 window from 1964-1967. The earlier years are the better. 1959-1961 featured small directional lights while 1962-1967 featured much larger directional lights. The small lights help make the earlier models distinct. The makes the microbuses between 1959-1961 among the most valuable.

Similarly, 1959-1961 rear taillights were small circles, while 1962-1967 became larger. Below shows the 1963-1967 style on the left and the smaller 1959-1961 style on the right.

Image Source: https://www.mamotorworks.com/VW/KnowledgeLibrary/exterior/VW-Taillights-Shapes-Sizes-Make-A-Difference

In 2017, Sotheby’s auctioned a 23 window VW Deluxe microbus that sold for an impressive $207,200. Yep you read that right! That’s more than most 1960’s era Porsche 911’s, heck, it’s even more than a brand new Porsche 911 Turbo or GT3.

https://rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/ny17/new-york—icons/lots/r016-1960-volkswagen-deluxe-23-window-microbus/545968

Now take a deep breath, the 2017 Palm Beach auction by Barrett Jackson also featured a red and white 1961 23 window Volkswagen Bus, and it sold for a staggering $291,500.00.

https://www.barrett-jackson.com/Events/Event/Details/1961-VOLKSWAGEN-23-WINDOW-DELUXE-MICROBUS-205891

The Volkswagen bus had something special that made it a great car in the 1960’s. The rear mounted engine provided easy access and the small engines were easy to work on. The bus became an icon of the 1960’s counter culture, and today there is a limited quantity of the 23 window vans.

23 Window Volkswagen Production Numbers

Year Production Numbers
1955 2195
1956 2072
1957 3514
1958 4342
1959 6241
1960 7846
1961 8095
1962 11,280
1963 14,764

21 window Volkswagen production began in the 1964 model year, and continued until 1967. For reference, the production numbers are as follows:

1964 14,031
1965 12,467
1966 18,790
1967 unable to verify

Image Source Google Images

23 Window Volkswagen’s currently for sale

There are not many 23 window Volkswagen’s on the market today. There is one for sale through consignment for just over $100k, but it looks rough around the edges. It’s not recently restored, and generally would need a significant amount of work to get it to the quality of the one listed below.

Would it take $55,000 worth of work? Probably not, but it would take work. The challenge with buying a fixer upper of this vintage is that finding OEM replacement parts can be difficult and expensive.

Two years ago it was not uncommon to see a nice condition 23 window for sale on Hemmings in the $125k range, today it seems $150k is the starting point for a well restored example.

Image Source: www.hemmings.com

Buying at Auction vs a Dealer?

Checkout this article about the differences between buying cars at auctions (in person and online) vs dealers.

If you want to dive into all the details of the Volkswagen Bus, check out these resources below.

The Samba Production Numbers Resource
Bustopia General information

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