Originally made popular by Volkswagen, the surf bus is an iconic design later manufactured by additional motor companies like Mercedes and Toyota. Its classic design makes it suitable for everyday business needs as well as weekend trips, especially for those who love to surf. Understanding the differences between body types, manufacturers, and modern versus classic models is the difference between a surf bus you love forever and a hunk of junk you resent.
Toyota Surf Buses
Manufactured from 1991 to 1997, a limited number of Toyota Previa surf buses still grace the road. This 4-cylinder Toyota surf bus is an economical choice that provides spacious room for long trips. Fuel efficiency, more or less identical for every model in the series, is approximately 15 city mpg and 20 motorway mpg. Previous owners often convert the Toyota Previa into a living corridor. Conversions sometimes include a single burner butane hot plate, a futon mattress, carpet throughout, and eco-friendly insulation. A Toyota Previa with these additions in working order stays comfortable for longer.
Mercedes Surf Buses
Known for its ability to build high-quality vehicles that last a long time, the Mercedes surf bus is its Vito van model. Running on diesel fuel, the Mercedes Vito gets approximately 36.5 mpg. Additional features include roof rails, trailer hitch, and tow bars, all of which make it an ideal work vehicle. Owners that convert their Mercedes Vito often add a slide out bed, running water with sink, seating, a skylight, a gas burner, and an electric hook-up. Before purchasing this surf bus for overnight trips, ensure all additions are in working order.
Modern Volkswagen Surf Buses
Produced for over 60 years and still available in 2014, the Volkswagen Transporter is the most well-known series of surf vans. Two main body types separate used Volkswagen surf buses. The T5 body types—the least expensive model—has no windows in the rear, which makes it ideal as an everyday work truck or weekend living space. The T4 line feature windows throughout the back. Available with five or six seats, the T4 model is an ideal van for shuttling the family.
Classic Volkswagen Surf Buses
Prior to the extended availability of surf buses, there was only one model, the Volkswagen Bus. Known for its iconic body type, which resembles a Volkswagen Beetle, shoppers should closely inspect the condition of the body prior to purchase. Made from 1949 to 1967, later models of the Volkswagen bus feature a half-diamond design on the front end.