Buy­ing Abroad: Where to search for a bar­gain T3 bus

Why you should look over­seas for a good se­lec­tion of T3 vans and campers

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying & Selling - Theo Ford- Sagers

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.

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