The Beginning, Part Three

Soon after the Greensboro VW show, I saw this on craigslist:

1978 VW Camper van, Campmobile, not Westy – $1200

I loved the cow spots! (I found out later – actually this week – that the bus was made to be a bull. I was contacted by a previous owner). My wife wasn’t too keen on them, but we decided to contact the owner.


I would be interested in seeing your ’78 bus. Is it still available? And if so, what times are best for you? I live in Holly Springs, but work in Cary, so you aren’t that far from me. Also, do you know if this is a Sportsmobile conversion? It kind of looks like it is from the pics. I think my wife and I would like to see the van sometime this week if possible. I will talk to her again tonight about it. Also, can you tell me how many miles are on the van, if you know? How many owners (again, if you know)? Any history of the van? How long has it been sitting? Any maintenance receipts? And, do you have any other interior pics you could email me? Sorry for all the questions…I am in the process of trying to convince my wife….she wants a more “finished” vehicle, but I would like a challenge, and something with character. The cow spots definitely caught my eye! Don’t know if she would want to keep those…





The van is still available. I am unsure about the conversions though. I am not that familiar with the transporters, I know more about Beetles. I myself also work in Cary and would be able to meet you any day this week around 5pm or later where the van is located in Clayton. If you can not make it this week, I would have no problem meeting with you this weekend. I am very sorry but I do not know the history of the van other than it was originally bought by the state of California for the dept of parks and recreation. The owner before me said the owner before him may have been the second or third owner so this would make me the fourth or fifth if that is correct information. Mileage is of course way up there, I believe it is in the neighborhood of 156K but I am unsure of this. I also apologize for only having one interior pic of the van. I can tell you that it is a bit rough, most of the interior would need to be replaced if you were going for restoration, otherwise if you just wanted to clean it up a bit to use it I think that would be a possibility. The van has been sitting for almost a year now. I had intentions of restoring it myself but have had neither the time nor the place to put the van to do so. You mentioned you wanted a bit of a challenge, this van is definitely that. It is by no means a “finished” vehicle and will require some time and effort if you were looking to restore it, but if you are looking to hurry and get something on the road to use, then it shouldn’t be too difficult!

Thanks again for the questions and interest, when you decide on a day to see the van, let me know!


So we went to Eagle Storage in Clayton and met the owner. We were pleasantly surprised by the condition of the bus. It was a little rough, but no real rust to speak of – except the battery tray which is a common bus area to rust. The rear taillight area was crushed in also. We talked it over that night at dinner, and decided to buy it. The final deal was stuck for $850. My neighbor across the street helped me haul it home on a Saturday – Feb. 3, 2007.

The original owners manual and warranty & maintenance manual were still with the bus, which was indeed a Sportsmobile conversion. The bus was purchased March 4th, 1979 from Oliver Volkswagen in Vallejo, California. The maintenance schedule in the manual was date stamped up until 45,000 miles:

1452 miles – 0(indecipherable) – 05 -79 – Oliver Volkswagen, Vallejo, CA

7955 miles – 6-11-79 – Saltnes Volkswagen, San Francisco, CA

13,928 miles – 8-17-79 Fairbanks VW, Fairbanks, AK (!! – a bit of a roadtrip!)

22,733 miles – 1-28-81 – Saltnes Volkswagen, San Francisco, CA

31,462 miles – 2-22-82- Saltnes Volkswagen, San Francisco, CA

40,785 miles – 10-18-82- Ron Greenspan Volkswagen, San Francisco, CA

45,701 miles – no date - Ron Greenspan Volkswagen, San Francisco, CA

A few pictures when we got it:

The bus wasn’t running, so that was to be my first order of business…

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