With the serial electrics, the Bulli normally does not show big failings; age-related appearances e.g. are soiled switches, levers, or oxidized ground connections.
The only challenge might be dysfunctions of the engine management with the injection engines, the dysfunctions range from oxidized clamped joint connections to defect Hall generators in the distributor to breaks in the harness. Mostly, those are only bagatelles like missing ground connections from the engine to the body or simply a neglected service in the area of the ignition system. Especially with the water cooled engines, the temperature sensor or the sending unit are prone to be in functional disorder and provide wrong information.
Much work emerges, if the ventilator fan of the Bulli conks out. Then it is necessary to remove the whole dashboard. Actually, the instruments are solid; a defective fuel indicator mostly is a sign of oxidized plugs at the tank; here also a repair is quite complex, as the tank must be dismounted.
But the main source of defects are always uncontrolled handicraft works of former owners, which lead to disorders, or sometimes a cabling for special purposes in busses of agencies or armed forces without a wiring diagram. Particularly with the campers, you have to check the correct function of all electric- and gas components (valid gas inspection), as defects can get quite costly, like defective refrigerators or auxiliary heatings. The burner chamber of the auxiliary heating is part of the TÜV (inspection authority) check; it the heating is more than 10 years old, it might be a problem to pass the check; so target the seller with regards to that issue, as dilapidated heatings can be fatal.
There were some technical highlights back then with the Bullis already; the repairs reached from “really expensive”, to name the air conditioner and the anti-block system as examples, down to simple repairs which could be well done by self-help. The latter repairs e.g. were the external mirror, the central locking, or the cruise control.
The today’s established special equipment, which some people think was not available back then, but which was optionally available ex works for the T3, comprises the following components:
o anti-block system ABS
o heatable mirrors
o electrically alterable mirrors
o electrical sliding doors
o air conditioner
o electric window lifters
o headlamp cleaning
o automatic transmission gear
o front and back sun roof, up to 3 roofs per car
o extendible foot board for the passenger compartment
o auxiliary engine heating and inside auxiliary heating
o electric antenna
o windshield antenna
o color glass
o electric seats with lordosis pad
o seat heating
o big steel sliding roof
………to name the most important.
The other age-related electric faults of the Bulli are similar to those of other old cars; those are blind headlamps, defective batteries, abraded generator adjusters, shabby engine starters, - and what else can burn through in the course of years.
This is comparable with the chapter about the rusty seams; the condition of the interior is an essential criterion for us to decide if we buy a Bulli or not.
Because of the many equipment variants through the years, many spare parts are hard to get, as the used ones mostly aren’t in acceptable condition, and the new ones are limited and accordingly high priced. Equipment parts for the “star” models or the campers are at a high rate, especially when they are denominated Westfalia or Dehler. As with any other used car, burn holes in the seats, 5000 W of music sound volume in the door panelings, and a drilled through dashboard lead to profound markdowns, particularly if you would like to see your Bulli as a collector’s piece.
Other important questions are how well-kept is the furniture in the campers, is it complete, and in what condition is the bellows of the mounting roof. As most of the Bullis were drudges their whole lives, the main faults in the interior e.g. are damaged cover panels, torn roof linings, worn down seats, broken armrests, bad soiling, or simply unprofessional botch with parts from the supermarket remnant sale.
With the Bulli, many self-made campers were reconstructed from box vans and vehicles with elevated roofs; the constructions ranged from bumbling chipboard works to elaborate carpenter works; everybody has his own scale of quality. With vehicles form the armed forces or from agencies, you will probably come across a minimum equipment with some installations for special purposes, which you cannot make use of as a private user. Some of the installations (like blue lights or radio sets) were already removed by the offices, so that the Bulli is full of holes. Who does not mind, can also buy an agency car.