Buying Abroad: Where to search for a bargain T3 bus
Why you should look overseas for a good selection of T3 vans and campers
You may not be surprised to learn that the richest source for Volkswagen’s third-generation Type 2 Transporter is mainland Europe, and Germany in particular.
‘Generally you get a better spec with European models,’ says Rob Fearn of Busmeister, a T3 specialist in the West Midlands (www. busmeister.com, 07787 111178).
The Westfalias in the UK came well-equipped, though they’re generally left-hand drive anyway, and the high-spec Karat minibuses were only produced in very small numbers. But in Germany there were more limited editions, such as the Red, Blue and White Star and the Magnum. Then there was the Westfalia Syncro – a particularly desirable 4x4 camper variant of which very few originally made it to the UK when new. But if it’s a bargain you’re after, you might be intrigued by what’s available in the less affluent countries on the fringes of Europe, Bosnia and Herzegovina being a case in point. ‘A few people are beginning to cotton on to them,’ says Rob.
Some are being brought to Blighty on a small scale for personal use or resale, but it’s hardly a widespread phenomenon. Beware the language barrier, and remember that it’s possible that many of these vehicles have seen heavy use (many are panel vans) and frequently harsh winters.
It’s about 1200 miles from Calais to the middle of Bosnia and Herzegovina – and what a road trip, with the Dalmatian Coast only a slight detour away.
Do pay attention to individual countries’ EU membership, because this is likely to affect whether you have to pay import duty. There’s none due if you’re buying from within the Union, but countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina still have their membership pending.
Unlike their T1 and T2 predecessors, values of T3s aren’t generally high enough to justify spending large sums on importing from outside Europe, especially considering their abundance close to home. That said, those examples built in South Africa (which continued production right up to 2002), do have a lot going for them. Their larger side windows post- 1991 may be generally considered less attractive than their European counterparts, but their five-cylinder Audi engines (unique to South African models), and high specification – including aircon and power steering – work in their favour. Rising values should improve the viability of importing from the US before too long, especially if the pound stabilises.