This guide has been created to assist people with the identification of the 1951 - 1955  Volkswagen Deluxe Microbus (otherwise called the Samba Bus or Sunroof Deluxe). For information on the later model 1955 - 1958 Samba Bus, follow this link. The VW Deluxe Microbus was based on the T1, Type 2 body, which features the famous split front window, which was adapted to several other body styles. The Deluxe Microbus entered production a full year later than the standard 1950 Microbus, and has become particularly desirable due to its unique feature and low production numbers. 

As the Deluxe buses now demand extraordinary prices, it is important that a prospective purchaser knows exactly what they are getting. This identification guide includes information about the VW Deluxe Microbus external features, interior features, mechanical features, paint colours and codes, as well as the chassis, body and engine number information necessary for determining the originality of these vehicles.

Numbers produced and period of manufacture:

The VW Deluxe Samba Bus was produced from late 1950 through to February 1955 in the following numbers:

1951 (June): 269 units produced

1952: 1142 units produced

1953: 1289 units produced

1954: 1937 units produced

1955 (end February): <1000 units produced

Please note, this guide has been written based on a variety of online sources and enthusiast input. You should not rely on this guide to make any purchasing decision and we make no representation that all information is accurate. You should always seek independent professional advice when looking to purchase a unique car. If you have additional information, photographs or corrections you believe need to be made to this page, please contact us by clicking the button at the top of this page, or comment below. 

1. External Features: 1951 - 1955 VW Deluxe Samba Bus

The 1951-1955 VW Deluxe Microbus had the following external features:

  • 23 individual windows in total. There should be 5 windows on each side, 4 skylight windows each side, 2 front safari style windows, 2 rear corner windows and a rear safari style window.
  • Plexiglas was used for the skylight windows and the rear corner windows. In 1954, the skylinght windows were changed to regular glass which was tinted green.
  • Built in vinyl 'Golde Sunroof'. An option on other Microbus models, this came standard on the Deluxe.
  • Double chromium-plated ornamental band that ran from the front to the rear of the vehicle.
  • Barn door style side doors.
  • Deluxe chrome bumper trim.
  • Chrome sill panel trim.
  • Chrome rear engine vent trim.
  • 16 inch wheels dressed with chrome plated hubcaps and 'Lemmerz' wheel trim rings.
  • Rear mudguard runs over part of the rear wheels.
  • VW and Hella stamped bezel taillights (small circular lights as opposed to later model larger tail lights).
  • Two tone paint was most common (see paint section for more details).
  • Turn signals varied. Export models to countries that required lit turn signals had the “bullet” style front indicators installed. European models generally featured trafficators / semaphores instead.
  • Deluxe specific external options included amber tail lights and side window safety glass.
  • The roofline on the 51-55 Samba bus did not extend over the windscreen in the "hat" style. The extended roof was only a feature on the later model vehicles.
  • Front split windows open outward.
  • Central rear window as applied to the Samba was larger than the window installed in the standard Microbus models.
2. Interior Features: 1951 - 1955 VW Deluxe Samba Bus

The Volkswagen Deluxe Samba Bus had the following original interior features:

  • Black vinyl bench seats (as opposed to the standard Microbus which came with beige vinyl).
  • Black rubber floor lining was standard.
  • Beige/cream cloth covered the internal aperture pillars and panels (from the base of the windows and higher).
  • Dark beige vinyl covered the door cards and interior wall lining (up to the base of the windows).
  • The Samba was produced in both left and right hand drive, with the right hand drive vehicles being particularly rare.
  • A 'Wolfsburg' symbol is featured in the centre of the steering wheel (see images).
  • The dashboard features a speedo (drivers side), radio (centre) and a clock (passenger side).
  • Ashtray located in the centre of the dash (above the radio).
  • Luggage rack in the rear of the vehicle.
  • Vinyl (Chestnut Brown) pullback sunroof.
  • Passenger side footrest (absent on later models).

 

Deluxe specific interior options included:

  1. Vinyl headliner
  2. Walk through split front seats
  3. Telefunken radio
  4. Deluxe without sunroof and roof windows
  5. Seating for 9 people
  6. Double cargo doors
  7. Without seats in passenger area
3. Paint Colours / Codes: 1951 - 1955 VW Deluxe Samba Bus

Several sources have confirmed that the Deluxe Microbus came in the following two colours/combinations:

  • Two tone: Chesnut Brown (Code: L73) over Sealing Wax Red (Code:L53)
  • Single tone: Stone Grey (Code: L221)

 

The vast majority of Deluxe Microbuses were produced in "Chesnut Brown" over "Sealing Wax Red". We have managed to only gather a few images of an all Stone Grey Deluxe Microbus. 

Several forums have indicated that many of the Deluxe Microbuses which appeared in early brochures, advertisements, and at motor shows, were generally Chesnut Brown" over "Sealing Wax Red, but also had a white contrasting roof. Although production started in Aug 1951, very few vehicles were built that year and it is noted that none of these were built for sale to the general public, but were rather supplied as demonstration vehicles. All of these vehicles are believed to have had a white roof. Unfortunately, we have not been able to confirm the paint code or find examples of these very early vehicles, but please contact us if you have any additional information.

Confirming the original colour:

Unfortunately, the chassis plate on the vehicle does not list the original paint code. The code can however be found in the 'VW Birth Certificate', as this model pre-dates the M code chassis plates. The only other way to confirm the original paint is to look at areas under carpets, in the engine bay or other covered areas, which may have remnants of the original paint.

4. Chassis Number & Body Number: 1951 - 1955 VW Deluxe Samba Bus

Body number:

  • Up to May 1952, the body number was stamped into the engine bay bulkhead. After May 1952, the body number stamping was moved to the front seat bulkhead (behind the front seat).
  • The body numbers are sequential, however, provide limited other information about pre-October 1958 buses. As a result, a 'VW Birth Certificate' is required to find out further information, as outlined in section 6 of this guide.
  • In early buses (up to some point in 1952), forum discussion suggests that the body number matched the chassis number. The body number in 1952 onward vehicles has no relevance/relationship to chassis/VIN number.
  • Prior to October 1958 there was no 'M-Code' data plate, which replaced the body number on later Microbuses.

 

VIN / Chassis plate:

  • Prior to 1953, the VIN plate featured 5 rows of text (see images).
  • From 1953 onward, the VIN plate was updated and included only three rows of text (see images).
  • The VIN/chassis plate is located on the back right side of the engine bay (on the firewall/bulkhead). This is accompanied by a "made in Germany” plate abve the chassis plate as shown in the images.

The chassis plate can be decoded in the following way:

  • Row 1 Left side - 'Typ': Numbers 2/24 or 2/25 are used for the Deluxe Microbus. The "2" refers to "Type 2", and the "24/25" confirms the model is a Deluxe, with either the long middle seat (24), or, a short middle seat (25). 
  • Row 1 right side - 'Fahrgestell Nr' (chassis number): This is the unique chassis number of the vehicle. This will consist of a number beginning with the prefix '-20-' followed by a unique 6 digit number.
  • The locations and meaning of other information provided on the chassis plate is shown in the attached images.

 

The tables attached in the images compile the months in which the the Deluxe Microbus was produced with the sequential VIN numbers applicable to those production dates.

5. Engine Serial Number and Engine Date Stamp: 1951 - 1955 VW Deluxe Samba Bus

Engine Number:

The engine number is stamped on the front generator mount.

The engine numbers produced during the 1951-1955 period for Deluxe Microbus are listed in the tables in the images. Examples of the location and the typeface of an original engine number are also provided in the images.

 

Engine Case Date Stamps:

To assist with identification of an original engine, date stamps which are cast into the block can be inspected.  These cast marks can be found in two locations:

1. On the left hand side of the generator stand (right hand side case half).

2. Next to the oil pump (left hand side case half).

These locations are further described in the images. This stamping contains three (3) groups of digits that refer to the production date of the engine.

Digit 1: Day of the month

Digit 2: Month

Digit 3: This consists of two digits. The first is the shift number of the day, and the second digit refers to the year the engine was produced.

For example: "4 - 7 - 45" would confirm the 4th day of the 7th month (July), and the 4th shift of the 5th year (i.e. 1955).

6. Birth Certificate and Vehicle Options: 1951 - 1955 VW Deluxe Samba Bus

A 'birth certificate' can be obtained from Volkswagon, and will confirm the following information about your Microbus. Note, obtaining a birth certificate will likely require a valid chassis number, or further information, and we have not verified the process of obtaining such documents.

  • Line 1: Customer name.
  • Line 2: Chassis/Vin number.
  • Line 3: Model type.
  • Line 4: Engine.
  • Line 5: Colour.
  • Line 6: Build date.
  • Line 7: Date the vehicle left the factory.
  • Line 8: Country of destination.
  • Line 9 and onward: Extras/Options.

 

Factory options for the Deluxe Microbus:

Factory options and codes are listed in the table contained in the images. There are many other options that are available to the Deluxe Microbus along with other bus variations of VW Type 2 lineup, such as a MPH speedometer, engine filters etc. The list shown in the images refers to the unique options available only on the Deluxe Microbus.

7. Mechanical Features: 1951 - 1955 VW Deluxe Samba Bus

The 1951-1955 Deluxe Microbus had the following mechanical features:

  • From 1951 to 1953 The Microbus deluxe utilized the 1100 Volkswagen air-cooled engine. This 1,131cc engine produced 18kW (24bhp) and came in a flat four cylinder configuration.
  • From 1953 onward, the engine was upgraded to the 1200, being a 1,192cc engine producing 22kW (30bhp).
  • 4 speed manual gearbox was used in this particular model of Microbus.
  • Prior to October 1952, the Microbus has a crash gearbox. From October 1952, gears 2, 3 and 4 received synchromesh. 
  • This Deluxe Microbus also featured a reduction box increasing torque for alpine terrain. This in turn, however, lowered the top speed of the bus.
  • 165mm wide tyres were fitted to 15 inch wheels on the front, and 195mm wide tyre were used on the rear.
  • The Deluxe microbus features a spare wheel in the rear of the car above the engine.
  • Drumb brakes all round.
  • Like the Type 1 beetle saloon, the Deluxe Microbus used a Porsche designed torsion bar suspension arrangement at the front and rear. These were two transversely mounted tubes containing leaf torsion bars, mounted on top of each other.
  • Mechanical only distributor (non vacuum).
  • Fitted with a Solex 26 VFIS carburetor until October 1952. From November 1952 onward, they introduced the Solex 28 PCI carburetor for the 24bhp engine. This same carby was also fitted to the later 30bhp engine.
References - 1951 - 1955 VW Deluxe Samba Bus

The following sources, among input from many enthusiasts, have contributed to the creation of this page. If you have any further information you believe can be added, please let us know by contacting us or commenting below.

www.thesamba.com

www.bustopia.com

www.vintagebus.com

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Type_2

http://blog.hemmings.com/

http://jalopnik.com/britains-first-vw-type-2-samba-microbus-is-wonderful-an-1681085088

ssvc.org.uk

http://www.holygrailgarage.com/