One Extraordinary Bus Find, One Extraordinary Bus
Posted on September 06 2018
When Victor woke up in his home in Sweden back in December 2015, he wouldn’t know that just a few hours later he would be on the bus hunt of a lifetime. He was about to lead his very own search of a very rare barndoor bus. We love these stories here at Cool Flo. They’re the car equivalent of digging for treasure, and we car fans and fanatics are pirates in waiting. Bus find stories like Victor’s, which is particularly iconic, are the fuel to our passion. They remind us of the magic that still surrounds the iconic VW type today.
Okay Victor, let’s start at the start. The Bus! What treasure did you dig up in your epic bus find?
The bus is the oldest right-hand drive windowed 52 in the world! It was ordered for the Swedish railway. SJ made on 26th February 1952, and it was delivered to Sweden on 7th May. It was ordered as a right-hand drive Klein with chromed bumper and emblem. The reaction I got when I found it was amazing. I didn’t sleep for 2 days – the phone had gone warm. Many helpful people wanted to teach me about early buses. It was all new to me and that was so cool! And of course, many people wanted to buy it. But I’m happy to say that it’s not for sale.
What a find! So where did the lucky tip come from? How do you come across a car like that?
The tip actually came from my wife. A friend of hers found it while hiking in a forest just 30km from my home and posted a picture of it on Instagram. The tip was as simple as that, and my search started from there. It took me a few days, but I never got disheartened – I was determined to find that rare bus! It’s hard to describe the feeling I had when I finally found it. It all went so fast. It was amazing – one of the best days of my life.
Finding the owner of the land wasn’t hard, and he was a really nice guy. He said: "So many times I had plans to bury that bus”. He was just happy for me to solve his problem, and so I gave him a bottle of whiskey, And that’s it! The bus was mine – I had my dream car. I arranged for a few friends to help with the rescue trip. We took some useful tools, and a few hours later the bus was back on the road for the first time since 1962.
A bottle of whiskey for the oldest right-hand splitty in the world! Now that’s what bus find dreams are made of. Let’s move on to the nitty gritty – the restoration!
The bus was pretty solid but needed a new bulkhead, doglegs and floor. And the shelf over the engine was really bad. I made some metal shaping myself, but most of the work was done by Gerson, Autocraft and Wolfpats, and Fidde made the bulk kit.
In the front it has the original beam with adjusters and type-1 spindles. The transmission came from a 68 Beetle, while the safari windows came from creative engineering. The front seat is home made. The engine is a cb performance 2170cc. My plan was to do as little as possible to the bus to show how it looked in the forest the day I found it.
A right-hand 52, buried and forgotten in a forest in Sweden. Traded for a bottle of whiskey, and on the road for the first time in over 40 years, as bare and ratty as nature had left it. Thank you Victor for this important find! And for letting the Cool Flo Collective share your story.
We’d love to know a bit more about you. Can you tell us about yourself, how the bus is doing now, and about your plans for it in the future?
I’m 36 years old and live in Kalmar, Sweden with my wife and 2 boys aged 8 and 10. My other car is a Pearl Weise 62 Karmann Ghia on air-suspension and Escra wheels, and my wife has a 59 garnet red ragtop.
I’ve been into Volkswagen for 17 years now, and well and truly have the bug. The goal following the restoration of the car was to drive it to the Hessisch 2017 show. We made it and it was a fantastic trip. And we even got to visit Wolfburg on the way! It was so cool to be there with the barndoor.
The next trip was the Barndoor Gathering 2018. This was a magical journey. Neils Timmerman from Airmighty did a great job with the show, and we made many new friends on the way. This is also where I met the team at Cool Flo for the first time. I’d been following you guys online for some years, but never got the opportunity to meet you until the Barndoor Gathering. It was awesome talking to you and telling you the story of this bus, meeting true enthusiasts like you guys is great !
As for my plans for the bus in the future: it’s a rolling project. First, I’d like to fix another door on the right side in the original colour with the SJ logo. The roof is another big job to do. It’s now fixed temporarily. And the engine and transmission is going to get a overlook this winter. As for shows, they’ve been big and super this year, so next summer we’ll go to some small meets in Sweden. And, of course, Barndoor Gathering 2022. I can’t wait until next time!
We can’t wait either Victor! What buried treasures are still hidden out there just waiting to be found? And who will be the lucky ones to find them? Keep a bottle of whiskey on you, just in case. Who knows, you might find a farmer with a bus problem.…You know our number now too !!
Check out Victor’s Instagram here and follow #sjbussen to keep up to date with the restoration and story.
We will be uploading a full gallery soon of this awesomely rare bus to our FB page!