What kind of bus is this?

Before anyone becomes outraged about extensive modifications to a classic Volkswagen, this Split Window was built in Brazil in 1973!

This version of the Type 2 Bus were made from 1950-1967 for Europe and US, and 1957-1975 in Brazil.

What kinds of upgrades will Small Car be doing?

Our Small Car 2.5L Subaru Engine Conversion will be upgrading the power and reliability of the van. In order to properly utilize this additional power we will be upgrading virtually the entire drive train including T2 IRS rear suspension and an 091 six rib transmission. We'll also be adding heat and air conditioning where there was previously none at all.

With new modern wheels and tires, four wheel disc brakes, and some other key upgrades, its going to be a very memorable build!

What else makes the Joy Bus special?

Something about this vehicle speaks to us. We can tell it has a lot of love poured into it, and it is both a source and symbol of joy for those who get to see and to drive it. We're overjoyed ourselves to be given the chance to contribute to that.

Where is the project right now?

We are making plans and gathering the parts we will need for the complete project. In our upcoming posts we'll share the first stages of removing old components, test fitting new parts, the fabrication and modification stage, the install itself, the testing stages and the final mileage goals and completion of the project.

Stay tuned over the next week or two for updates!


What's the first major step?

After we have all the parts we need its time to start pulling this beauty apart! Our technician is very comfortable working with the older model bus and dove right in. Among other things this is the stage where he's begun measuring for the structural pieces for the suspension and engine mounting.

What kinds of technical problems need to be solved?

While the engine bay is a tight fit, there is room for the Subaru. For the transmission, we won't be using the stock reduction gearboxes so we decided to update the rear suspension to the later Type 2 IRS and an 091 transaxle.

To the left you can see the old setup.

How about the brakes, wheels, and tires?

We wanted tobring this classic's stopping power into the modern era so we will be installing front and rear disc brakes from Wagen's West. For tires and wheels, we will use our 16X7" Cup wheels and Nokian tires in a 205/60-16 XL.

What about comfort?

There wasn't much room for the heat and air conditioning system we're installing so it is going to require some clever modifications to fit up front where it will be most needed. While this bus does have great air vents up top for letting in breezes there's no question that an AC system is going to do wonders for hot southern US weather. We've decided to squeeze the system in under the front seats.


As you can see the project is moving along nicely!

Here are some progress photos of the bus, which you can also view above in the photo album.

What parts have been installed?

Our technician has moved forward with the suspension upgrades, mounted the transmission, fully installed the brake systems, test fit the full wheel and tire setup, begun cutting and fitting the space for the AC install, and prepared the engine bay for final engine mounting work. At this stage the bus is starting to look more like it will when complete, so we'll be looking forward to the final stages of the install in our next entry. For now, enjoy the photos! See you again soon!


For Small Car the journey is complete, the Joy Bus is driving beautifully! Already the bus has had many miles driven. The owner has received the van and is heading off on a new adventure!

The upgrades Small Car installed are in several key areas: those of safety, comfort, and driveability. Each is a critical component to a more modern vehicle, and we worked to ensure not only quality upgrades but excellent performance.

With upgraded brake systems, rebuilt suspension, greatly improved front end and a reliable and powerful Subaru engine, this bus is capable of greater speed but also much safer driving.

While the hot summer air tries to make things uncomfortable the AC system keeps the entire cabin a cozy temperature. This bus is great whether you want all the windows down for cruising the coast or keeping things contained during a heat wave. In addition the ride is smoother than ever before.

With the suspension upgrades we've ensured that the enhanced power the Subaru engine provides is being put where its wanted. Highway speeds are no longer frustrating and there's no need to make a home of the far right lane. The Joy Bus can now drive safer and faster than ever.

We've really enjoyed working on this bus, and look forward to more like it in the future.