70 Years of the T1 Samba VW Bus

T1 Samba Front

Photo by: Autowelt Bachmann

The story of the T1 Samba

This week, we celebrated the life and legend of the VW T1 Samba on its 70th anniversary. Since it first went on sale on April 19th, 1951 for around $2,200 USD, the T1 Samba has aged like a fine wine. Although it’s old, it has only increased in popularity. These days, people are willing to pay a pretty penny to get their hands on one. In fact, up to $302,500 USD (thus far) to be exact.  

Upon its release, the bus shook the transport industry, as if the wheel had been reinvented all over again. The world instantly fell in love with its two-tone paintwork, chunky front bumper, and aluminum trimming. However, what really set it apart from the rest was its 23 windows, including 4 skylights on either side. Nobody had seen anything quite like it before, and nobody has seen anything quite like it since.  

T1 Samba Inside
Photo by: Autowelt Bachmann

A luxury bus

Although the bus oozed originality, perhaps the most appealing aspect was the luxury it provided for anyone looking to take a tour. Originally it was simply named the “minibus special edition”, but instead it has retained the moniker “Samba”, although the origins of that nickname remain unknown. In 1954, Volkswagen decided to take on this name officially for this special T1.

By 1967, when production of the Samba was discontinued, it had gone through several minor changes to the original design. This included reducing the number of windows to 21 and some versions were even developed without the soft sliding roof.

In total, about 100,000 VW T1 Samba’s were produced between 1951 and 1967. Of course, this makes it a very valuable vehicle for collectors and as far as we know, none have ever dared convert it for Buslife.


Inside T1 Samba Cab
Photo by: Autowelt Bachmann

The Samba is revived

70 long years on, and the world is almost unrecognizable from the year the first VW Bus made its debut. 12 US presidents have come and gone, as has Top of the Pops, and there’s an entire generation that doesn’t even know what the first iPhone looked like. Yet, people of all ages can recognize the VW T1 Samba. With such an iconic design, we don’t doubt it will still be cherished for the next 70 years to come. 

The new electric T1 Samba. 0% emissions, 100% retro. Photo by: dwell.com

In fact, VW intends to keep the T1 Samba eternally remembered. To bring it into the modern age, they have teamed with company eClassics to create an electric version of the old classic! It still looks retro, but creates zero emissions and runs like a dream.

Want to know more about the different models of VW Bus? Check out this article.

Have you ever seen a T1 Samba converted for Buslife? If you have, let us know in the comments!

Emily Draper
Author: Emily Draper

Having visited over 70 countries across all seven continents, it's safe to say Emily has the voice of a true traveler. She has lived with the Hare Krishnas in Chile, an Amazonian tribe in Peru, and a retiree named Jerry in a Wisconsin trailer park. Now, Emily has embarked on the coolest adventure yet: across Europe in her self-converted bus.


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