Buying Classics Abroad
You won’t be the first to import one of VW’s evergreen Type 2s, and you probably won’t be the last. Britain’s post-Brexit pound may have threatened to undermine this vehicle’s viability as an import, but Ricardo Barreto of Another Classic Camper (www. anotherclassiccamper.com), which specialises in bringing Type 2 campers into the UK from across the Atlantic says: ‘Both South America and North America are still good hunting grounds for German-made Type 2 T1s and T2s.’
A quick recap for the perplexed: the T1 ‘splitties’ are the first-gen darlings of the camper scene; the T2 ‘ bay window’ models followed from 1967. Both were built on the RWD Type 2 platform.
Thanks to a USA import tariff on commercial vehicles since 1964 known as the ‘Chicken Tax’, most of the T2s that made it to the States were campers or micro-buses. Production in Europe and the USA ended in 1979, but Mexico continued making a version of the T2 until 1994 and Brazil only stopped making them at the end of 2013.
‘Most of the decent ones are long gone,’ advises Ricardo of the original German-built T2s. ‘Most of my imports are projects.’ Ricardo sources many of these fully restored in Brazil, where restoration costs are lower, before delivering them to customers in the UK with the duties and documentation already sorted – a process which aims to effectively undercut the cost of having a T2 restored here.
You’ll have left-hand drive to contend with when importing from the Americas, but Ricardo says: ‘The USA and European buses are very similar to each other, even in terms of build quality. The differences are mostly cosmetic (fittings, bumper etc).’ Conversion to right-hand drive is roughly a £1500 job, but few people bother and Ricardo doesn’t recommend it, because the loss of originality can have a negative knock-on effect on values.
If you can brave the language barriers there are bargains to be found in eastern Europe, though you’re more likely to find a panel van than a camper (ideal for conversion into an ultra-cool surf bus).