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'72 vw bus safety


I want a camper bus for camping/road trips, but I have a very limited budget. I test drove a volkswagen camper bus today and felt like it was a death trap, and a full body workout to drive. Are these vehicles generally unsafe? Should I be looking for something else?



Very unsafe. Your legs are the first line of defense in the event of a frontal collision. They are also terrifically slow and could have problems maintaining highway speeds on even minor inclines.

Your senses are alive and working very well. With the price of large American vehicles in the dumpster you should be able to find something else priced very low. You don’t mention what kind of money you are working with.

The vehicles may well go down in history as the unsafest vehicle EVER on the road. The only reason Ralph Nadar didn’t go after them the way he did the Corvair is that so few VW buses of any kind were sold.

I had a '71 Camper bus in the mid ‘70s’ and it was slow, blown around by the wind, the driver is very exposed, it was top heavy and handled poorly. All this for a van with decent payload and just under 20mpg where similar American vans got 8-9 mpg. It was the era of gas lines and rationing so then the VW made sense, but just for a very little while.

Thanks for the responses! I was doing some looking around online and found a rather terrifying crash test video that sealed the deal. No idea how fast the bus was going, but considering that avoiding accidents sometimes involves stopping fast, and the vehicle did not stop fast at all, I certainly wouldn’t want to hit anything head on. Guaranteed death or disability in an accident…no thanks! I’m a college student so looking to spend under $2000. Not too concerned with looks, mostly just want something reliable and dependable that will get me “there” and back, preferably for the next 5-10 years or so. Currently don’t own a motor vehicle and am getting it solely to get out of town. I also spotted a 1980 chevy 20 camper van w/ 87k miles for under 1000 (they seem pretty desperate to sell), but I couldn’t find any kind of safety information about it online. I wonder if it has power brakes…after driving the VW I think driving anything with that kind of weight would need some power brakes. I’ve never owned a chevy; are they reliable, long lasting, and cheap to repair? My mom had an '88 Ford F250 that was constantly breaking down, but her old '79 GMC seemed to be pretty reliable. Any other suggestions? I’m not in a hurry to buy anything so I can be picky and take my time.

They can’t be THAT bad…The bus you drove has survived 37 years…Most safety issues rest on the driver, not the vehicle. The VW will kill you by asphyxiation through it’s clever heater design before anything else…

A friend has a accident with his 68 Bus, he hit a cow. The cow came in the passenger front door and exited the side doors. Now hitting a cow will total just about any vehicle but this bus was a real mess.Friend lived, cow had to be destroyed,it did not kill the cow outright.

Think long and hard about the GMC Van (mechanics call them “G” vans for the body type). The engines and suspension of these vans (espically belts) are very hard to work on due to poor access.

The G-20 van will have more expensive brakes because they’re different than the G-10 brakes since the 20 series is .75 ton instead of .5 ton. The rotors and drums will be bigger, so call around and get prices.

While I will not say it is unsafe, I will agree it is not as safe as modern cars. The full body workout is normal for it. Just try driving it in a good cross wind, but it is still far better than say a 1967 that had the old suspension.

How serious does it need to do the ‘camping’ part? I imagine you could find a used Suburban, plenty of room to sleep in back withe the 3rd row removed and the 2nd row folded. Just don’t expect good mpgs…

How much camping do you intend to do? How many people will be with you?

I think you can get away with a smaller vehicle, like a Ford Taurus station wagon if you don’t want RV hook-ups and will only have one or two people camping. What about a normal car and a tent?