Drive a van and you can’t help but respect its utilitarian purpose, like a donkey, saddled with burden all its life yet still able to make you smile once in a while. A good van is fun to drive, with its high seating suspension and springy seats, a massive upright window, horizontal steering wheel you grip like the bus driver you remember from childhood, and huge steering ratio, spongy brakes, and hide-and-seek gear change.
Vans are back in vogue especially with the oncoming electrification of line-ups planned by just about all manufacturers from about the year 2020 includes a minivan of some sort (they just suit flat-floored electric platforms so naturally), and the revival of the VW Bulli ‘Bus’ is one of the pioneers of this cool van revival.
However if you are only just trying to get into the classic van market take a seat before you have a look at price of Volkswagen T1 or even T2 busses. The best and rarest models have gone well past $100,000, and justifying that kind of money on a van however cool is difficult.
If you look elsewhere in the classic van world you’ll find interesting stuff at less than a third of the price of a mint VW, stuff like Alfa Romeo’s ultra-rare F12 minivan that was used for commercial, military, emergency and civilian purposes. Imagine an ox-blood one done in a mock team service Alfa Romeo Squadra Corse livery…
There are also lots of interesting Fiats and French stuff on offer — except the Citroen H van that’s exploded before of food truck businesses — but the rarity we’ve picked out is the weird and wonderful DKW Schnellaster produced mainly during the Fifties.
With a triumphant design and the adorable front end so crucial for intrusive commercial vehicles (how can you not let it merge?), it looks every bit as interesting as VW’s iconic Bulli, at a quarter of the price. Best of all Schnellaster’s used tiny two-stroke engines said to be reliable, and good for up to 30 horsepower.
These are already up on a climb for a while now but there are still cars to be discovered as we did in South Africa earlier in the year: complete, original, unique cars from $10,000.