One for the real nerds

Dear VW-friends,

last week I shared the following new picture of my little collection of historical Barndoor pics with some BD-freaks:

The vent wing proofs this Samba is build before end of 1952, the VW logo confirms it´s even a 1951, the license plate tells the Bus is at home in Düsseldorf

In my eyes this picture is very interesting in many aspects. First, it shows a one-tone-color Samba. I know the VW books clearly say that there was just one single-tone color for Barndoor Sambas: stone grey (which is a kind of dark grey). But this Samba here has a very bright color, which is for not stone grey! Sure, it could be resprayed, but the old black German license plate, this ´51 shows, were replaced in 1956 by the well-known white DIN-plates. So this picture was taken between 1951 and 1956, that´s for sure. I wouldn´t respray a five year old car, would you?

I personally believe this Samba wasn´t older than two years in this picture, because the Bus looks quite new, maybe it was just brand new. Just have a look on the people! The guy in the black suit seems to be the proud owner, presenting his new vehicle to his friends and neighbors.  

But something else made me finally sure that this is a brand new Samba. It´s quite weird! When I shared the picture Julian Hunt wrote me: “Two things I noticed about the (lovely) picture: The badge doesn’t look quite right which could just be the reflections, and the wipers are black, not silver……”

OK, I guess the badge is just right for a ´51, dear Julian, it´s the badge with the open gap between the “V” and the “W”. But the black wipers made me thinking! A look in the VW spare parts book of March 1951 confirms there were chromed and black wipers. Black for type 21A (panel van) and type 23A (kombi), chromed for type 22A (micro bus). The ´54 spare parts book says the same and adds that also the Samba had chromed wiper blades. So, is the ´51 Samba equipped wrongly?

I was kind of frustrated, cause I already have a very nice set of black wiper blades for my Samba at hand and accepting they might be wrong was a little pain. So, just to be sure I grabbed my other Samba pictures and discovered a little mystery! Have a look at this beautiful picture:

Sealing wax red, chestnut brown and a white roof: this beauty is another ´51 Samba! The license plate says: “I am at home in Darmstadt”, the owner says:”Hopefully she will say ‘yes!'”

Black wiper blades again and again a ´51 Samba which looks as new! OK, you could say, a wiper blade is easy to change and could be worn out in just one winter. But the clamping bracket is good for at least ten years! And it is black also on the bright one tone Samba and the three color one above! So, could it be that the very first Sambas were generally equipped with black wiper blades and black clamping brackets? It seems so, have a look on the next picture:

The cover of this company-internal magazine shows a prototype Samba in the very first IAA (International Automobile Exhibition) in Frankfurt, April 1951.

We do have the final proof here, haven´t we? Maybe it is related to the fact that they build up the very first Sambas at least up to 1952 in the factory´s prototype department, but to be honest, I don´t have a real clue why the factory decided to equip the first ´51 Sambas with black blades and brackets while chromed ones were at hand to equip the stock micro bus right from the start some months before Samba debuted. The following pictures of a 1950 micro bus confirm that the factory had chromed blades back in these days!

Have a look on the roof gutter! This is an early 1950 Micro Bus, must be one of the very first ones they ever build! The license tells this type 22A was based in Gelnhausen, Hessen (near Frankfurt)

You better believe, the owner of this Micro Bus had a very good reason not the choose a beetle but a bus!
Daddy must have been kind of rich to purchase such a vehicle in spring 1950! Look how happy the kids, the wife and even grandma are with the new car!
This Micro Bus had a hard life! You can see the first dents in the bumper and isn´t the left headlight smashed? But still daddy seems to be happy. If he would have stored away the Bus after its regular life his kids or grandsons would be happy AND rich today, but I guess the Bus went to junk decades ago. Or did daddy dumped it in the forest and we just have to find as my Samba? Who knows…..

I know the spare parts books say all Sambas had chromed blades, but the pictures above proof it´s wrong, at least when it comes to ´51 Sambas. Now before you suspect the spare parts book might be simply wrong, let me teach you different. Have a look here:

OK this is a ´56, ´57 or ´58, but anyway it got clearly chromed blades and clamp brackets. (Hey, lokale Bus-Fans, weiß einer wo dieser Ahrweiler Samba aufgenommen wurde? Maarten?)

Don´t we have a wonderful hobby? Let them call us freaks, nerds or even idiots, but VW science doesn´t hurt anyone, neither makes it the world a worse place, I guess it´s just the opposite!

Merry Christmas!


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8 thoughts on “One for the real nerds

  1. I’d like to add the paint on the single color Samba, doesn’t appear to have any real reflection of shiney areas leading me to believe it’s a matte finish and faded grey primer. I can see it fading within the five years.

    Helluva build man!


  2. Hi Florian, lovin your work.
    As stated above, sambas had the piece between the V and W painted body colour. It peeled off incredibly easy so rarely survives even on the best buses. But this means it is almost impossible to tell if there is a gap or not from a picture.
    Secondly the wiper. I can’t tell from my old pics of my 51 deluxe as they were painted over with red. But I noticed even the hornbecker 52 has black bases but chrome arms.

    1. According to Progressive Refinements and the 1951 and 1955 parts books:
      Up through Sept, 1952, VIN # 20-032790, Buses had painted arms and blades.
      From September, 1952 through December, 1953, VIN # 20-069409, Standards and Deluxes used polished bases, chrome arms, and chrome wiper blades. So blacks correct. Shouldn’t your samba also be round wiper arms not flat?

  3. Hi,
    That logos is not the early aluminium version that is much more round. The flat area of that one is just normal for a “late” steel version and there is no gap between the V and the W as you stated, but just a little touch of white paint like on every samba chrome logo, hand painted with a brush.
    Also there is no way it is an early logo because it was discontinued around VIN 119xx when samba when samba didn’t exist yet…
    Also, I have photos of my 52 samba when it was new and it also had black wipers (not only blade but full set up) so that’s not only a prototype thing. To me that white samba could (might) really be a 52 😉

    1. Hi Florian G.,

      you are absolutely right, the aluminium version was obsolete before the Samba debuted! But to my best knowledge there must have been another version in between the aluminum logo and the well known 4-pin-steel logo. I checked now many pictures of ´51 Sambas and all of them seems to have the gap between the “V” and the “W”. In fact I never saw so far a steel logo without the gap physically, but I checked out physically a Bus born in November 1951 and this Bus is very untouched, it was taken from the road in 1955. Unfortunatelly the front logo is stolen, but you can clearly see where it sat for decades and there are just three mounting holes. But all steel logos I have seen so far had four pins. So I guess there is a a steel logo with three pins. Maybe Charlie Hamil knows more about it?

      Interesting factr about the black wipers on your ´52! Would you mind to share the picture with me?

      best regards


      1. I assumed that you knew that all barndoor had a 3 pins logo so I thought you were just guessing your bus must have the early version, aluminium made….Anyway, your 51 samba or a march 55 BD samba would have the same chrome logo from new, with 3 pins and a hand made chestnut brown touch up paint between V and W.
        PM on facebook if you want pics ! Cheers!!

        1. Hi Florian,

          now I know! 🙂
          I still have a lot to learn about BDs, I just started to get deeply into it when I found the Samba May 2017….

          best regards


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