This buying guide is for those who want to enter new territory and buy a VW Bus T3 and who want to find out about this venture and its risks before doing so. So this guide is mainly a “first aid” for those who want to purchase a serially produced T3 Bus.
Deliberately, I do without too many details in this guide in order not to confuse the prospective T3 owners.
About comprehensive subjects like engine or transmission identification code, equipment code, changes through the years of construction, engine conversion, operation with vegetable oil, LPG system, charging etc., there are many websites, searches, and experts in various VW Bus forums which provide you with sufficient information on the above mentioned subjects.
Prospective buyers who are not familiar with cars are well-advised to take an expert on the respective model when viewing a T3 Bus. When you ask in a VW Bus forum, you will probably find someone who lives near you and who can help you to take a decision on buying. Alternatively, it makes sense to invest money in a used car check at ADAC or DEKRA or a local authorized expert, especially with regards to the unconventional construction of the Bulli. Potential buyers should be aware that a bus is a utility vehicle which was built and used to make money. Therefore it cannot be compared to a pensioner’s Passat. So a documented history of a bus (like former owner, purpose of use, service documents, bills) provides a good basis for a purchase. All of the mentioned points of the checklist are also shown in the photo gallery. As it is the case with all old-timers, the maintenance and care of a T3 Bus is costly in terms of time and money. Those who buy such a car, should dispose of automotive engineering knowledge, suitable equipment and adequate room, or, alternatively, they need a full wallet for repair shops. If none of those alternatives exists, I advise against buying a T3 Bus or any other old-timer.
Most workshops are not really motivated when repairing a T3. In many cases, the employees who are familiar with this vehicle, are already retired. There are, however, workshops spread all over Germany which are specialized in repairing the T3 Bus. It makes quite sense to profit from their knowledge. Especially the T3 versions like the Syncro (all-wheel drive) or Oettinger wbx-6-vehicles need a specially qualified mechanic to avoid complications. It is by all means recommendable to get at least one more opinion before placing the order.