Years ago I decided to dismantle retired Volkswagen buses and resell hard to find parts and paraphernalia. At the time there was (and probably still is) a fever to restore the old VW buses and make them better than new. The value for these restored buses have become astounding and original or NOS (new old stock) parts have become hard to find. I have always thought an automotive business should have some sort of marketing tool that represents the business and catches the public’s attention. It also is very helpful that its fun to drive. Enter Volkswagen’s Vanagon Double Cab!
The most intriguing thing I took away from my short stint in the VW bus salvage business is that everyone, I mean everyone has a bus story to tell. It is usually told as a nostalgic tale of psychedelic camping, journeys to Grateful Dead concerts, of Country Fairs, climbing mountain passes at 25mph, and almost getting blown off the road by cross winds and semi trucks. The story inevitably ends with an overworked little engine whose oil level was always neglected, big billowing clouds of blue smoke and a big bang from the back of the bus where the engine resides. The flashback comes to a screeching halt! With this road-tested information I decided my company car had to be as cool as a bus but have a little more reliability. Well, a lot more reliability and capable of conquering mountain passes in excess of 25 mph. So, I purchased a 1985 Volkswagen Vanagon Double Cab, affectionately known as the DoKa in the rest of the world, direct from Canada.
This DoKa was one of the coolest vehicles I have ever owned and I have owned many! It was all Vanagon up front but had a bench seat in the back and a third crew door, which I think made the truck special. The flat bed in the back had folding gates, an engine access panel, and storage below called treasure chests. I upgraded the anemic 1.9 liter boxer engine with a 2.0 liter VW Jetta engine that was imported from South Africa of all places and made this truck gallop over Siskiyou Summit. Volkswagen built this truck in many different versions including a single cab with a much longer bed, all wheel drive models, diesel models, military versions, and the very rare and coveted Tri-Star with 4 doors, huge ground clearance and all wheel drive. The only thing Volkswagen didn’t do with this truck was import it to the United States and it was all because of chickens or rather the “chicken-war tariff.” Back in 1962 the good ‘ol US of A put a 25% charge on imported pickup trucks to retaliate against German taxes on U.S. poultry. Sounds like a swine, uh I mean, bird flu conspiracy to me’..