Vintage VW Bus body types explained
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Vintage VW Bus Model Descriptions

Starting in October 1958, Volkswagen attached an "M-Code" plate to every Type-2 vehicle (i.e., Kombis, Panels, Pickups...) they manufactured. This plate is a 3 1/2" by 1 3/4" rectangle piece of metal with a series of letters and numbers stamped into it, that provides a lot of useful information about when the bus was made, what country it was exported to, the original interior and exterior colors, optional equipment, the body type, etc. This plate was attached with 2 screws or pop-rivets to the bulkhead panel behind the front passenger's seat (regardless of whether the bus is a bench seat or walkthru model). By deciphering the numbers on your bus's M-code plate, you can discover a lot about what your bus looked like, when it rolled off the assembly line! Below is an example of an M-Code Plate (note that this example shows the numbers highlighted in different colors, but obviously in the real world these numbers are just stamped into the plate and are not colored at all!). There's a lot to say about the various numbers on the plate, but for now we'll just say that the red '04 N' indicates the date the bus was manufactured, and the white "427 025 195" numbers are M-Codes indicating special options/equipment the bus came with. The "UA" code indicates that the bus was shipped to Los Angeles. The blue "23" indicates the general body type code (the "2" indicates "transporter" and the "3" indicates "Kombi") and the pink "1" further defines the body type (e.g., "left-hand drive with cargo doors on the right"). The meaning of the black "2" following this pink "1" is a little murky but it's generally felt that this digit indicates the paint type (nitro-lacquer, synthetic resin, just primer, etc.). The black "421781" indicates the interior and exterior colors ("42" is the lower body color, "17" is the upper body color, and "81" is the interior color) and the black "7041252" is this vehicle's VIN (Vehicle Id Number). But what we really want to focus on here is the body type, so find the body type code (the blue/pink "231" in the example below) on your bus M-Code plate, and match it to the "Type Code" definitions shown in the tables below.



The Panel Van is very similar to the Kombi, except that it has no side windows, and it has a vertical partition wall behind the front seats, to separate the cab area from the cargo area. The Panel Van was definately designed to be a "commercial" model for transporting cargo only. Interior knobs were usually black instead of ivory and the cab area was "upholstered" with simple grey masonite-type panels instead of cloth or vinyl. The cargo area was usually just plain grey primered metal.



Panel Van (Type 21)
Type Code Steering Cargo Doors Special Options
211 Left Right Side -
213 Left Left Side -
214 Right Left Side -
215 Left Both Sides -
216 Right Both Sides -






The Microbus; 9 Passenger, also known as an "11 window bus, was essentially a Kombi with a much nicer interior (vinyl or cloth instead of the grey masonite) and 2-tone exterior paint choices. Like the Kombi, the rear seats could be removed, but the Microbus was primarily designed to carry passengers, not cargo. The 9-passenger Microbus has a "bulkhead" front bench seat and the middle and rear seats are also full bench seats, enabling 9 people to travel in style!





Microbus 9-Passenger (Type 22)
Type Code Steering Cargo Doors Special Options
221 Left Right Side -
223 Left Left Side -
224 Right Left Side -
225 Left Right Side Sliding Sunroof
228 Right Left Side Sliding Sunroof






The Kombi, also known as a "standard bus" or an "11 window bus, was Volkswagen's entry-level passenger bus. Volkswagen coined the name Kombi to describe the fact that this model was a "Kombination" vehicle that could carry passengers (when the back seats were in place) or cargo (with the back seats removed). The Kombi was a simple vehicle that was outfitted very similar to the Panel Van, with an interior covered in grey masonite-type panels instead of vinyl or cloth. Most camper conversions (Westfalia, Sundial, Riviera...) were based on the Kombi model.





Kombi (Type 23)
Type Code Steering Cargo Doors Special Options
231 Left Right Side -
233 Left Left Side -
234 Right Left Side -
235 Left Right Side Sliding Sunroof
237 Left Left Side Sliding Sunroof
238 Right Left Side Sliding Sunroof






The Deluxe Microbus; 9 Passenger, The Deluxe Microbus was Volkwagen's top-of-the-line transporter. The Deluxe was essentially a normal Microbus with an extra window added to each side (plus very cool curved windows added to each back corner through model year 1963). The Deluxe Microbus also had fancy trim attached to the exterior, that consisted of flat polished aluminum moulding that held a colored plastic bead down it's center, as well as fancy rubber trim affixed to the face of the bumpers, front and rear. Most Deluxe Microbuses were ordered as "Samba" models (a $160 option for 1963), that included a sliding canvas sunroof flanked by 4 skylight windows on each side of the roof (that's a "23" window bus through model year 1963, and a "21" window bus starting in model year 1964). When ordering their new bus, a customer could specify M-code "M130", if they wanted their new Deluxe Microbus to be a "hardtop" model without the Samba's sliding sunroof and 8 skylights. These "hardtop" Deluxe Microbuses are rarer than the Samba version, and are often called "13" window buses ("15" window buses through model year 1963). The 9-passenger version has a "bulkhead" front bench seat and the middle and rear seats are also full bench seats, accomodating a total of 9 passengers, including the driver.





"Samba" Deluxe Microbus

"Hardtop" Deluxe Microbus
Deluxe Microbus 9-Passenger (Type 24)
Type Code Steering Cargo Doors Special Options
241 Left Right -
242 Right Left -






The Deluxe Microbus; 7 Passenger, The Deluxe Microbus was Volkwagen's top-of-the-line transporter. The Deluxe was essentially a normal Microbus with an extra window added to each side (plus very cool curved windows added to each back corner through model year 1963). The Deluxe Microbus also had fancy trim attached to the exterior, that consisted of flat polished aluminum moulding that held a colored plastic bead down it's center, as well as fancy rubber trim affixed to the face of the bumpers, front and rear. Most Deluxe Microbuses were ordered as "Samba" models (a $160 option for 1963), that included a sliding canvas sunroof flanked by 4 skylight windows on each side of the roof (that's a "23" window bus through model year 1963, and a "21" window bus starting in model year 1964). When ordering their new bus, a customer could specify M-code "M130", if they wanted their new Deluxe Microbus to be a "hardtop" model without the Samba's sliding sunroof and 8 skylights. These "hardtop" Deluxe Microbuses are rarer than the Samba version, and are often called "13" window buses ("15" window buses through model year 1963). In the 7-passenger version, the back seat is a full bench seat, but the front seat is a "walk-thru" configuration, and the middle seat is only 2/3rds length to allow access to the back seats, from the front seats.





"Samba" Deluxe Microbus

"Hardtop" Deluxe Microbus
Deluxe Microbus 7-Passenger (Type 25)
Type Code Steering Cargo Doors Special Options
251 Left Right -






Single and Double Cab Pickups, The Single Cab is a standard pickup truck based on the Transporter platform. Being a commercial vehicle, the interior is very similar to the Panel Van, with a single bench seat for the driver and passenger, and trimmed out with black (instead of ivory or beige) dash knobs. But unlike virtually all other pickups marketed at the time, the Volkswagen pickup's side and rear panels surrounding the bed, hinge down for easier loading. Long oak strips were bolted to the corrugated bed to cushion the metal surface from heavy loads. For further utility, the entire area underneath the bed (between the cab and the engine compartment) was available for securily storing tools and materials, and was accessed by a lockable door on the side. Starting in November 1958, Volkswagen also offered the Double Cab pickup. The Double Cab was essentially a Single Cab pickup with the back wall extended to make room for another bench seat that could accomodate 3 more passengers. An additional side door on each side provided access to this back seat. Since both pickups share the standard transporter drivetrain and wheelbase, the Double Cab's pickup bed and side gates are shortened versions of the Single Cab's, to compensate for the extended cab. Like the Single Cab, the Double Cab also includes the secured storage compartment under the pickup bed.





Single Cab Pickup

Double Cab Pickup
Single and Double Cab Pickups (Type 26)
Type Code Steering Cab Style Special Options
261 Left Single Cab Storage Door on Right
263 Left Single Cab Storage Door on Left
264 Right Single Cab Storage Door on Left
265 Left Double Cab Rear Door on Right
267 Left Double Cab Rear Door on Left
268 Right Double Cab Rear Door on Left






Ambulance; This is a special purpose vehicle built for hospitals, ambulance companies, sanatoriums, etc. The ambulance (or "Krankenwagen") is essentially a Kombi modified for the customer based on a long list of possible optional equipment, including; a special fold-down rear hatch, rails for a stretcher, hooks for intravenous bottles, cabinets for medicine and supplies, siren and blue roof light, etc.).
Ambulance (Type 27)
Type Code Steering Cargo Doors Special Options
271 Left Right Side -
273 Left Left Side -
274 Right Left Side -






The Microbus; 7 Passenger, also known as an "11 window bus, was essentially a Kombi with a much nicer interior (vinyl or cloth instead of the grey masonite) and 2-tone exterior paint choices. Like the Kombi, the rear seats could be removed, but the Microbus was primarily designed to carry passengers, not cargo. In the 7-passenger Microbus, the back seat is a full bench seat, but the front seat is a "walk-thru" configuration, and the middle seat is only 2/3rds length to allow access to the back seats, from the front seats.





Microbus 7-Passenger (Type 28)
Type Code Steering Cargo Doors Special Options
281 Left Right Side -
285 Left Right Side Sliding Sunroof




Check out Original VW Bus Paint Colors.
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