VW Split-Window: Splitty Vibes in Episode 8

Classic Volkswagen buses, or Type 2s as they are more formally known, were supposed to be hardy, cheap commercial alternatives to the VW Beetle of the era, and they were. Powered by the same flat-four aircooled motors as their smaller siblings, VW buses in all forms performed hard labour across the globe. But they also came to symbolise the 1960s as American hippies toured the country spreading the message of “free love”.

Words by Sudhir Matai; Images by Justin Pinto

These hippie buses were not as popular as the Beetle in the classic car scene until a few years ago. Their iconic design and feel good factor earned them cult status in a really short space of time. Oliver Broome is a self-confessed petrolhead, who was enamoured by an early, ‘split window’ bus when he saw one touring near his hometown on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast.

Broome eventually bought that very same bus, which set the ball rolling for what has become an ongoing love-affair with the boxy Volksie, and the creation of a world-renowned restoration business. After parting with the very first bus he bought, he decided that he wanted a rarer Crew Cab Type 2. This model has two bench seats with a drop-side load bin. Importantly, it also has the two-piece front windscreen, both of which are open. Other styling cues distinctive to the early model are the tiny, circular taillamps and ‘bullet’ front indicators.

Beautifully restored, this Split-Window is one of the oldest of its type in the country.

“When you are driving along the coast with those two safari windows open and feel the cool breeze on your face, life is very good,” said Broome during takes while recording this video.

His Crew Cab is a 1959 model, making it one of the very first to be built by Volkswagen. The restoration process took the better part of 9 months to get it looking the way it does. As he enjoys speed and is a regular racer, Oliver had to have a little more poke. A flat-four aircooled motor has been retained but his car makes a bit more power than the 25 hp of the original. The gearbox also has a longer final drive because, according to Broome, “I really wanted to use the car and drive all over the country. It must be usable and it has to be able to keep up with traffic on the motorway.”

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