A Volkswagen campervan thought to be the first and oldest in the UK is expected to sell for more than £75,000 at auction.
The vehicle is the first, and thought to be the only surviving, VW Type 2 Samba Microbus imported into the UK.
The right-hand drive bus, built at the original VW factory in Wolfsburg, was delivered new into the UK in November 1955 by John Colborne-Barber, the founder of the first ever VW dealership in the UK.
Sambas were never officially imported new into the UK, and as such ‘SGP 62’ is thought to be the only surviving example of the few Wolfsburg-built Type 2s in the country
Colborne-Baber’s long association with Volkswagen started as a result of John being approached by former army officer George La-Haye.
After the end of the Second World War, La-Haye, who was stationed in Germany, purchased three new Volkswagen Beetles, the last of which he returned to the UK with.
Colborne-Baber showed an immediate interest in the Beetle and made George an offer on a part-exchange for a Wolseley 6/80, which he accepted.
Colborne-Baber was so impressed with the Beetle he’d acquired, that he then approached Volkswagen in Germany and began importing Volkswagen vehicles into the UK in 1949
Mr Colborne-Barber, who started selling VWs after falling in love with the Beetle, imported the car from Wolfsburg and converted the interior so he could take it on family holidays.
He had the unmistakable motor fitted with a fridge and stove by renowned specialists Devon Conversions.
The car dealer held onto the campervan until the early 1960s. It then disappeared for the next 30 years until it was rediscovered in 1992.
It has been comprehensively restored to original specification with a few additional safety and convenience features, whilst retaining its completely original appearance.
The iconic camper will be sold at Silverstone Auctions’ Race Retro Sale, which takes place at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire on the 21st and 22nd of February.
It is being offered with an estimate of between £70,000 and £75,000.
Nick Whale, managing director of Silverstone Auctions, said: said: “This is a fantastic piece of Volkswagen history and as such we expect a lot of interest when it comes up for auction.
“These vehicles are hugely popular around the globe and collectors are now paying some incredibly sums for them.
“This is a beautiful and rare Samba Microbus, historically important in terms of its VW legacy in the UK. It’s ready to be appreciated and enjoyed and I hope the new owner will love it just as much as the Colborne family did.”
In 1992 ‘SGP 62’ was rediscovered in the West Country after 30 years in storage. It has been professionally restored over the last 18 months as a faithful reproduction of its condition as used by the Colborne-Baber family but with a few additional safety and convenience features whilst retaining its completely original appearance.
A new bespoke period-correct Devon interior, modelled on the design that was enjoyed by the Colborne family, was created by VW expert Kevin Morgan – including an correct Osokool fridge and Dudley stove.
These rare items were sourced specially for this bus and are in mint condition. The vehicle also comes with a certificate of authenticity from the Stiftung Auto Museum Volkswagen as well as a personal letter from the son of Mr Colborne-Baber regarding the bus.