C&C did a plane, (no) train and automobile roadtrip to get to Amersfoort in the Netherlands for what was billed to be the largest gathering of Barndoor Buses in Europe.
There was also going to be a serious gathering of vintage VW metal too so we knew it was worth the early start and many kilometres of road.
If you’re wondering what Barndoor Buses are, then it’s simple, they are the Split Window Buses that were built in Wolfsburg until March 1955 when production moved to Hanover where the new purpose built plant was constructed. They have an engine lid that is almost twice the size of the later and more common Split Window engine lid. Even the Pickups and ambulances of that era which didn’t have the larger engine lids are referred to as Barndoor models.
As with any ‘first production’ vehicles, they have many unique parts which make them stand out from the later Buses and as such, Barndoor parts send the hardcore enthusiast through the roof, which is where most of the prices are going right now. Barndoor only parts would be things like the pedal cluster, front suspension & steering, reduction boxes, engine lid, rear apron, petrol tank, dash and instruments, the roof, splined steering wheel (pre-53), 3-post emblem, front windshields etc, so you can see, if you were restoring a Barndoor era Splittie you would have to work hard at sourcing these parts. Not owning one and not restoring one allowed us to enjoy the chaos of European, Asian and US buyers battle it out to find those illusive Barndoor parts in order to complete their resto! With that in mind, we made sure to get there for 10am on the Saturday morning as that was opening time for the show and the swapmeet. Despite the prices like €1,250 being asked for a middle seat and €500 for random metal cuts, these parts were selling so if you have a Barndoor Bus in your shed, you’re sitting on a pretty penny.
The original idea for the T1 van or Volkswagen Type 2 came from the Dutch Volkswagen importer Ben Pon who drew the first sketches of the van on April 23, 1947. Ben Pon lived and worked in Amersfoort, the Netherlands and that’s why Amersfoort was the perfect location to bring these Barndoor Buses together!
The location was excellent, the VWs were the best around and the vibe was chilled. This may have been a first time show but the organisation was such that it felt like a show that had been running for many years. Well done to all involved. Here’s to the next one!
Words and photos: Cathal