With this rare split-window VW Jurgens Autovilla, you could be campground royalty
Volkswagen Beetles and buses are arguably the most easily recognizable vehicles on the planet, so finding one that’s truly different is a feat. Seen one, seen ’em all, right? Not so fast. Say hello to a unicorn, at least in the United States: a 1975 VW split-window Jurgens Autovilla camper bus.
Manufactured in South Africa and offered on eBay (and through ingearautomobiles.com) for $93,000, this camper bus is probably unlike anything you’ve ever seen, even if you’re familiar with Jurgens conversions … and it’s the Safari pop-out windows up front that make it so extraordinary.
“The Jurgens Autovilla is a rarity, especially with the split-screen cab, since the vast majority seem to be based on the later bay-window-era bus,” says Randy Carlson, a longtime California Volkswagen collector who has sold more than 160 vintage VWs through www.oldbug.com. “I can’t imagine more than a handful of Autovillas made it here to the U.S., let alone the split-window versions.”
The Jurgens’ seller has never seen another split-window version for sale and says it is “so rare it belongs in a museum.” This one began life as a 1961 VW Samba/Transporter, and the custom camper was added in 1975. The right-hand-drive Autovilla is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with dual Solex carburetors, mated to a four-speed manual transmission.
According to caravansa.co.za, South Africa’s Jurgens Caravan factory launched the Autovilla in 1974. Advertised as “The mighty mini motorized home” and built on a Volkswagen Kombi/Samba chassis, the Autovilla was nicknamed “skilpad” (Afrikaans for tortoise) to describe its rounded shape and “rather slow progress up hills.”
Autovillas were also built under license in Germany and Brazil. A first-generation version can easily be distinguished from its second-gen cousins, which have a Luton extension over the cab that contains a small double bed.
In addition to its unique front pop-out windows, the 1975 Autovilla on eBay also has rear pop-out windows, front disc brakes, and features a full steering conversion “(It’s) very comfortable and fun to drive,” the seller says.
The camper bus, which carries a clean Florida title, received a quality restoration at some point, but the seller doesn’t know when the work was done. Judging from its overall condition, it couldn’t have been too long ago. The interior is detailed in orange and white with matching bed sheets and curtains. Features include a refrigerator, stove, sink, table, cupboards, storage areas, a mini bathroom with wash basin, and vintage barometer. The tan-and-white upholstery is like new.
The camper also has an awning.
Last month, a 1975 Jurgens Autovilla with a bay window was offered for sale in the U.K. (via the VW Jurgens Autovilla Facebook page) for £15,500, which is about $21,500. A similar bay-window 1974 Jurgens is currently for sale in Portland, Oregon, for $28,000.
Is the split-window Autovilla shown here worth four times as much as the more-common (but still rare) bay-window versions? Carlson says it’s possible.
“I think there’s a chance that the seller might get his number just because of the cute factor and rarity,” he says. “Photos of these rigs spread viral on the web. I think there must be someone out there with the wallet and the want for this one. Yes, the price is strong, but so is the ‘wow’ factor.”