1955 Samba under the hammer

If you’ve got £70,000-£80,000 kicking around (it’s estimated sale price) then clear a space in your diary for the 21st/22nd of February and get yourself down to Stoneleigh Park near Coventry for the auction of this early, ultra rare right-hand drive factory Samba…

Excitingly, the 1955 microbus has just popped up in the sales catalogue of Silverstone Auctions’ Race Retro sale, and worldwide interest is already reaching feverpitch.

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The early bus was imported by John Colborne-Baber, founder of the first VW dealership in the UK, namely Colborne Garages of Ripley, founded in 1949. We talked about the Colborne family’s early links with Volkswagen in a blog celebrating 60 years of VW in the UK here. The bus was used by the boss as his personal transport for many years.

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As Sambas were never officially imported new into the UK, this vehicle is thought to be the only surviving factory made right-hand drive example in existence. In 1959, Colborne-Baber commissioned Devon Conversions to transform the interior into a camper so it could be used for family holidays.

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In 1992, the early bus was miraculously rediscovered in the West Country, having spent the last three decades in storage. Obviously time had taken its toll, and over the last 18 months it has been professionally restored to its former glory – with a few subtle upgrades being carried out along the way to make it better able to cope with modern motoring…

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A spankers new bespoke period-correct Devon interior has been fitted by specialist Kevin Morgan, who managed to source the correct Osokool fridge and Dudley stove. Meanwhile, the upholstery and trim was given a period makeover by Doncaster-based Trimshack. Smiths VW got the bodywork up to scratch.

The historic Samba has, as much as possible, been returned to its original spec although there have been a few additional safety and convenience features added to improve usability. The auction house state that these would be easy to remove if so required.

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At the heart of the Samba’s sympathetic upgrades is the 2015cc twin carb engine, which is the work of expert John Gurney. Dual circuit brakes with discs at the front, radial tyres, integrated front and rear indicators (working semaphores are still in place), engine bay fire suppressant and front and rear seatbelts also feature on the newly restored VW. The van also has a concealed fuel gauge, ipod dock in the ashtray, and a 12v conversion.

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Commenting on sale of the rare VW bus, managing director of Silverstone Auctions, Nick Whale, said: “This is a fantastic piece of Volkswagen history and as such we expect a lot of interest when it comes up for auction. These vehicles are hugely popular around the globe and collectors are now paying some incredibly sums for them.”

The Samba not only comes with a ‘Birth Certificate’ from Wolfsburg, but also an accompanying letter of provenance from the son of its original owner John Colborne-Baber.

Okay, so what are you waiting for?


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