1971 Tin-top Camper

While bus hunting last spring, Tom got a line from a friend about a bus sitting at a local VW dealership.  His investigation turned up a ’71 tin-top Westy in mid-restoration and was kind enough to share his photos.  While I never found the tin-top camper quite as comfortable as the pop-top version (it’s always nice to be able to stand when putting on your pants), the tin-top holds a special place in my memory – my family’s first VW camper was a white tin-top.

Photo Credit:  All photos by Tom (Thanks!!)


Beautiful exterior paint.


Bumper guards are very popular these days. I encountered them on one of my past buses and found that, while I don’t mind them aesthetically, if the bumper collides with an object, the guards bend backwards and dent the body (think poor drivers in a parking lot!).


The tin-top came with the full Westy interior, front child’s cot, and louvered side-windows.


The tin-top my family owned (also a 71) had the land-electric hook-up for camping. The hook-up is missing on this bus.


Curtain needed!


Nice, straight rocker panels. If you ever suspect repairs to rocker panels on a bus, look for the dimples you see here in the lower part of the rocker. These dimples are from the original assembly and are very often obliterated when an owner stuffs body filler into rusty rockers or welds scrap metal in as a repair.


Rust free under carriage


The rear part of the front wheel wells often rust out – thanks in large part to the use of road salt. The driver side looks pretty solid on this bus.


The passenger side has some flaking and possible hole (just left of center along the dimple line).


Passenger side rocker and sliding door track.


That’s an interesting shift pattern job on the ashtray. I know that cigarette lighters on early U.S. bays got installed by the dealership (an option a buyer could ask for if they wanted one), but I have always seen them installed under the glove box. Note the unique cap-nut heat/fresh air control knobs.


Custom kick panels and shifter extension.


The vinyl looks to be in pretty good shape on the seat and the interior is in overall good condition. Just missing a few details like the closet door handle.


All the 71 campers (pop-top and otherwise) I’ve seen have an open storage space behind the jump seat. This one looks like the early 68-70 version with the top cover and cut out. Perhaps leftover stock during production? Replacement?


The side panel section around the rear ash tray always gets water damaged because people forget to close the vent window. Pretty sure I did this once or twice in my father’s buses too.


Rear hatch panel. These panels see a lot of abuse from gear banging around in the storage area. When the rear window seal or door seal fails, water leaks in and quickly  destroys them.


Not a spare tire cover you get to see very often.


I’ve been trying to figure out what the purpose is for the little round hole in the cabinet (not a factory accessory).


More damage from a leaking rear window or door seal.


Sexy dog leg!


The corners behind the front seats will often rust out if the door seals fail. This becomes a safety issue when the seat belt anchor rusts out too. Looks solid in this bus!


Alas, this bus has no power! Tom was informed the engine is currently in production.


NOT FOR SALE. The owner wasn’t around, but Tom was able to find out that an employee owned the bus and was restoring it. He later verified that the bus was not going to be for sale in the foreseeable future, if ever.


2 thoughts on “1971 Tin-top Camper

  1. What a beautiful bus and in great condition! Liked the ending in particular: “(…) not going to be for sale in the foreseeable future, if ever.” That is about how I feel about my two busses 🙂

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