8 September 2014

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Lot 105

1965 Volkswagen 21-Window Deluxe Micro Bus

  • Chassis no. 245121087
  • Engine no. 0024918

Sold for £53,200

40 hp, 1,500 cc OHV air-cooled horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, semi-elliptic leaf-spring suspension with shocks and coil springs, and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 2,400 mm

  • Delivered new to Rome, Italy, and still retains its original Rome number plates
  • Highly desirable 21-window example

With more than 21 million sold worldwide, the Volkswagen Type 1 (or “Beetle”, as it was nicknamed soon after its debut in 1939) would become the best-selling car of all time. Under the direction of the German government to build a “people’s car”, Dr Ferdinand Porsche set about building prototypes in Stuttgart in the mid-1930s. Production started under British occupation in Germany before the end of 1945, with worldwide exports beginning in the early 1950s. Volkswagen, like other manufacturers, would continue to refine their car and develop variations of the original, but they would also share components throughout their models in order to increase production efficiency and profitability.

One of those variants, the iconic Volkswagen Transporter, first arrived on the American continent in 1949. Competition was non-existent, as there was nothing like it on the market at that time, and as it used standard Beetle components, making it at once familiar and easy to maintain and its parts readily available. It quickly became popular as an efficient way to move people. The Transporter was dubbed the “Micro Bus”, and it would further evolve into other vehicles, including a pickup truck and a cargo/delivery van. Its combination of efficiency and practicality deemed it an instant hit with the “flower power” generation of the ’60s, and its boxy design made it the perfect canvas for peace signs, pop-art flowers, and psychedelic paint schemes.

The Micro Bus was powered by a 1,500-cubic centimetre, overhead-valve, horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine that could produce an adequate 40 horsepower. It rode on a 94.5-inch wheelbase, was suspended by a semi-elliptic leaf-spring suspension with shocks and coil springs, and had four-wheel drum brakes.

The rarest variant, the 21-Window Micro Bus, is in many ways considered the ultimate example, which makes it highly desirable amongst collectors today. It was delivered new to Rome, Italy, and it still wears its original Rome license plate, 822241, which was first registered on 1 April 1965. According to the Italian Estratto Chronologico, this 21-Window Micro Bus was registered to a lady owner in Italy, Mrs Nunzia Sinesi, who then sold it to Mr Elio Carchi. It then passed through another Italian owner and was finally sold to its last keeper, who was located in the Rome area and had it restored to its present condition. The chassis number verifies it as an original “Samba”, as they were colloquially called, although not by the factory. This example is finished in a lovely two-tone colour scheme of red and white, and the interior is finished in matching red and white vinyl with red carpeting, which appears to show some light soiling from use. The odometer shows 28,542 kilometres, and as the gauges appear to be completely unrestored, this may very well be the original mileage. It is also presented with an equally tidy engine bay. This Deluxe Micro Bus is universally desirable both in North America and on the Continent, and it is always eminently usable.

Alexander Weaver

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California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

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California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

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California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

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California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more