The serial chassis frame of the T3 at the time was one of the best transporter chassis frames ever.
A balanced tuning and a nice & safe drivability due to independent suspension, – loaded or unloaded – was one of its strengths. As optional equipment, a 30 mm lower sports chassis was available ex works, which became serial equipment in later models (Hannover Edition, Limited Last Edition).
The accessories program offers a few more or less good kits to lower down the Bulli, but usually, they only have a visual effect and do not improve the range of driving features. A modification of the chassis frame or the wheels by any means should be registered in the papers. With the rear wheel- and all wheel-driven Bullis of the first years of construction, a detailed inspection of the front and rear axle guides is advisable, as those were made of closed metal panels which were liable to rust. This is perilous to you and to others.
Furthermore, the Bulli has the same age-related wear and tear at the chassis frame as all other old vehicles; those are: worn out chassis sockets, abraded shock absorbers, defective and “yowling” wheel bearings, worn out drag rods and supporting joints. While the steering which is not servo-power assisted often lasts a lifetime of a Bulli without problems, power steering systems must be inspected with regards to oil leakages of the steering box, of the (inevitably corroded) pipes and of the servo pump in the engine bay. A sufficiently filled container in the engine bay is a sign of good service and of the impermeability of the system, which is important because the components of power steering systems are not always cheap. In everyday use, however, a Bulli with the serial wheels can be easily moved without servo-power assistance.
The serial brake of the Bulli is just sufficiently dimensioned, but in terms of repairs an unremarkable part. There also were many changes in the course of the years of construction, what should be considered for the supply of spare parts. In the first years of construction, a 2-piston fixed caliper was used at the front axle, which later was replaced by a cheaper 1-piston floating caliper.
Known faults at the brake system are leakages at the master brake cylinder, at the brake calipers and wheel brake cylinders; brake fluid which is more than 2 years old, porose brake hoses, corroded brake pipes, uneven handbrake and abraded brake lining. With Bullis that have been standing for a long time (more than two years), pay attention to the mobility of the brake; otherwise you are confronted with an expensive overall reconditioning.
In the later years, the Bulli could have been ordered ex works with the Bosch anti-block system (ABS). Here, the defects are faulty wheel sensors and control units, what enhances the price for repairs. However, the ABS is hardly found in busses; it is a safety feature, which – combined with a defensive driving style and the above described durability of the chassis frame – makes the T3 a really safe vehicle. Most of the spare parts for the ABS are no longer available from VW.
Another evidence of a well-kept Bulli to me are the wheels; look to it that they have an evenly worn and still sufficient profile, and check their age. As with all cars, the wheel is the connection between the vehicle and the street; this is not the right object to save money! A good branded wheel provides the best possible contact plate with difficult road conditions and can even be a life saver by a shorter braking distance. Through my numerous Bulli-viewings, it turned out again and again, that the vehicles in the best of conditions always had good wheels, whereas vehicles with budget wheels were poorly serviced and cared for. This is surprising inasmuch as branded wheels in serial sizes for the Bulli were not excessively expensive.