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How to fit a 80" high VW bus into a 74" high garage?

I’ve got a '78 VW bus I’m trying to get running again, but I’ve just had to move house. My new garage barely has 74" of clearance, and the bus is some 80" tall. It has to fit in the garage, so any suggestions for getting it in there?

Letting some air out of the tires isn’t going to be enough. Are there any rolling dollies you can mount onto the wheel studs? Any other ideas would be much appreciated!

Yes there are dollies for moving cars around while in storage or during restoration if you look for restoration lifts and supplies etc. Most are designed to fit under the tires so you’ll maybe need to have someone fabricate special cradles with casters on it.

If you’re just moving it in and out of the garage, just grab a set of crummy wheels from junkyard and mount 'em on the van (sans tire) and roll the thing in. If you’re (perhaps understandably) worried about damaging the concrete, you might put down some plywood or something.

If you’re planning on sticking with this house and van for a while, you might look into lowering the van. Low-rider VW vans are suprisingly common-- there’s no accounting for taste. I think some of those nuts hang around over at the forums.

Is this clearance to the garage door frame, to the garage door itself (when fully open, obviously), or to the garage ceiling?

That’s the height of the opening of the garage door frame. There’s also the electronic opener mechanism inside at about , but I can always remove that…

Thanks Greasy. Good simple idea. I’m kinda with you on the idea of lowering it too - it’s cool to see them at the shows, but I’m thinking more of a restoration than a customization.

Considering all the trouble of removing wheels each time, I was wondering if you should get an estimate on enlarging the opening. I can’t imagine that’s a major project if you have the clearance otherwise.

You have two choices; forget about the van and scrap it. Or, as stated, I would buy 4 junk rims and drive it into the garage with just the rims. Then you can put the wheels back on or put it on blocks.

Unless you have a great deal of spare time and patience, I would forget about this project. You will have to spend about $3500-$5000 to get your garage refurbished to store this vehicle; storing it outside is not an option for anything this old!

Coil spring compressors? I bought a set of two at Harbor Freight for 12.99 plus tax.

Since the clearance under the lowest components of the chassis is unlikely to be more than 6", even dolly wheels won’t help.

Do you have an area where you can erect a temporary garage?

Get four of these and set vehicle down by the brake drums and it should fit under the garage door.

Sounds like the best(and probably cheapest) idea so far. Compress the springs enough and it might fit, but if you can find bare rims to nudge it in on, then all the better.

Fill the VW with sandbags, dirt, concrete blocks, firewood or neighborhood kids to lower it to the bump stops. Let some air out of the tires to finish the job.

If your garage is a detached, wooden, single car garage, it is possible to raise the end of the garage with jackpoles at the entrance end and two more for additional support in the middle of the left and right garage frame upper plates to let the VW in. You will need overhead clearance once in to let the garage back down again.

Does a nearby neighbor have a garage with a higher door? Exchange garage spaces.


Everyone else has given you good advice so I won’t weigh in on that. One thing I am curious about is the garage door opening.

Most openings are framed to about 7 feet tall with a 3/4" thick strip around the edge of the door opening. Is the door opening much shorter than that or the concrete raised more than normal?
Does the door use low headroom track? (double horizontal rails on each side)

Just wondering.

Thanks everyone - lots of great suggestions.

The garage is odd - it’s an older house, can’t really do anything with it structurally since it’s just a rental.

I’m thinking that rolling wheel dollies or bare rims might be the answer, possibly in conjunction with spring compressors. I’ll have to get the tape out and make some measurements again - I believe the shock mounts are the lowest hanging component under the car, and if they’re less than 6" off the ground this is going to be a really tricky proposition.

Why are you hell-bent on putting it in the garage? “[S]toring it outside is not an option for anything this old!” is nonsense. You’re going to drive it outside, aren’t you? Throw a tarp over it if you must, but why this Ahabian obsession with the garage?

Since someone deleted my suggestion to put it in on its side, here’s another one: tip it over at a 45 degree angle and roll it in on two wheels, give it something to lean on, and chock the two wheels. It’ll fit; a little thing called the Pythagorean theorem, perhaps someone here has heard of it.

Just rolling it on some junk rims will take 4-5 inches off the height.
You can find out by looking at the tire size.
My guess would be about 155/80/13.
Remember the first two numbers are millimeters and need to be converted.
80% of 155 is 124mm.
Your tread wall height in this case is 124mm.
124mm = 4.88 inches.
Do you know what i mean?
Get a couple friends to climb in, or some firewood or do some gardening and buy some bags of mulch. Put the load in the van AFTER you put it on the rims only. Your additional 1-2 inches will come from the weight.
If that still doesnt work. Your garage door probably has some trim on top that you can take off easily.

As much as I hate feeding the trolls, I can’t resist this one…

Regarding hell-bent: “I’m trying to get running again” was key. I wouldn’t say a desire to rebuild the engine without leaving the bus on bricks in the alleyway out back was Ahabian.

Regarding Pythagoras, I suspect someone else here has heard of it. I have. If w is the width of the bus and h its height, the distance d of the highest corner above the ground if the bus were tipped 45 degrees to the side would be (from Pythagoras):
d = w/2^0.5 + h/2^0.5
Substitute appropriate numbers e.g. and you’ll see that
d > h
And that means that corner is 104.7", to be literal. So it wouldn’t fit. I will gladly accept the “Ahabian” label for this debunk. :slight_smile:

A remodeling carpenter should be able to raise the door header and extend the door to accommodate the higher opening…This is not rocket science and it won’t be that expensive.

Restore a 1978 VW van?? Why?? When you get done, you still have a 1978 VW van and a lot less money…