The true diamond: 1951 VW Bus Deluxe “Samba”

The earliest built Deluxe VW Buses from the second half of 1951 are probably the most rare VW Buses ever built. Only two handfuls have survived till today.

On June 27th of 1951 Volkswagen started to produce their Deluxe-model Bus, which they first introduced at IAA Frankfurt in April 1951. It’s said that there were only built under 300 Deluxe Buses between June and December 1951. We don’t know everything about the exact building process yet, but it is getting researched a lot at the moment. In case you missed it, the “Samba” just turned 70 years old.

1951 VW Bus Deluxe “Samba” factory picture recolored – Pic: Volkswagen AG

There are only about two handfuls that survived untill today. Compared to other much-much higher production numbers of other VW types, one can say, the 1951 Deluxe “Samba” is a prototype. At least, a prototype of the Volkswagen company..

.. because, the idea of roof with panorama windows, a sunroof, chrome trim, and comfy seats for the passengers isn’t something that was brand new in the early 1950s. Others did it before. As early as 1935 several companies first showed streamlined coaches, which were pretty much the same as the VW bus, but in big. The very first prototype is the 1935 Mercedes-Benz LO 3500 Streamliner. Another example: The Ragheno bus from 1935.

1935 Mercedes-Benz LO 3500
Ragheno Bus 1935
1935 Mercedes-Benz LO 3500
1935 Mercedes-Benz LO 3500

First the luxurious Minibus was called “Sonderausführung” or “Sondermodell” by VW, which means “special model”. Not very spectacular. In the United States the 8-seater has been on the market as “Deluxe” Bus in 1952.

So, the remaining original 1951 Deluxe “Samba” buses are true diamonds and not often shown to the public. Mostly they are kept by VW enthusiasts, which started to collect in the 1980s and 90s, where no one wanted an old 24 horsepower bus with “bicycle tires”.

VW Deluxe Bus “Sondermodell” – Pic: VW brochure

It’s obvious – in the upcoming years, talking about 2022 till 2025 there are some of these diamonds to be shown on the typical old VW meetings. There is a visible trend. The last few years the collectors are showing more often, what they have, sleeping in their garages. Even in todays online era there is something to bring to daylight. It is always surprising, what is still to find today.

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