VW Bus Food Truck
Volkswagen (mini)bus Food Truck
Buying a VW Bus food truck - what are my options?
Volkswagen T1 or Volkswagen T2
Volkswagen started producing their iconic van in 1950 – vans produced from 1950 are known as Volkswagen T1 and those made after 1967 are officially the Volkswagen T2. Although a lot changed over the years and depending on where they were made, materially the impact of those modifications and improvements made over the years such as changes to the windowsize and engine performance are not relevant for the day to day use as a food truck or concession stand.
What matters is drawing the crowds – and the cult classic of America’s most popular hippy bus certainly has that effect!
Karpatia Trucks offers several options for a VW bus food truck conversion:
- an original vintage food truck conversion of a T1, T2 or any other vintage volkswagen van;
- an Asian (Chinese or Vietname built) replica;
- a higher quality replica we build in Europe.
- a relatively new 2005-2014 built model sourced from Volkswagen Brazil
Original - Vintage VW Bus Food Truck conversion - price on request
Fully restored, high quality VW T1 combi’s will set you back in the range $40k. That price is excluding the VW bus food truck conversion. Spotted one for less than $40k? Bargains exist, but count on the assumption that you have found a bus with serious hidden defects.
You can have us source your Volkswagen or if you have found one yourself, bring it to us or tell us where it is so we can fly/drive out and have a look. Initial inspections are free for qualified buyers – send us on repeat expeditions and we’ll start to charge you.
Volkswagen T1 and T2 vans were also mass produced in Brazil and Mexico and we have connections with exporters in both those countries. If there is no vintage unit available near you, that means there is no issue – except expect a 20-30 day delay for your build.
Original vintage food truck restorations are priced and quoted once we have a firm idea of the condition of the original and priced transparently per hour worked with all the works and materials quoted separately per item. Conversion and equipments will usually run you in the range of $20-30k.
You pay as you go, one reasonable down payment and then we’ll work with monthly installments based on your available budget and the progress we made.
Replicas and static buses - from €20k ($22k) exw.
Karpatia offers replicas made in China and Vietnam starting as low as €20k ($22k) and European quality replicas from as little as €30k ($33k).
The main differences are in the quality of the bodywork, finishing and paint job and whether you need to have CE compliant and certified equipment inside or if you are comfortable on using OEM equipment.
The VW bus replica is NOT a road legal vehicle – technically it is not even a vehicle. It is part of your catering inventory.
Asian versions optionally come with a small electric golf cart motor for maneuvering it around – European replicas are purely static or made as trailers and need to pushed, pulled or towed into place. We recommend a flat bed car trailer and a reliable pickup truck like a Toyota Hilux.
A static bus is often but does not need to be a replica – vintage food truck restorations are significantly less comprehensive, expensive and time consuming when the engine, brakes and other mechanical items can be left out of the conversion and restoration process.
For mall operators, hotels and other customers with a fixed location for their vw bus food truck a static bus can be the perfect solution. All the looks of a classic VW T1 without any of the pains of maintenance and car insurance.
How do I transport my replica or static bus?
You must transport your replica on or as a trailer. We recommend a dual axle utility trailer if you do not purchase a replica that functions as a built-in trailer.
Practical advice on using a VW Bus Food Truck
Any model – Volkwagen T1 and Volkswagen T1, replica or original – has limited storage space making it less ideal as a concession vending unit if there is no easy way to resupply when you run out.
If your concession stand is a fixed location (e.g. in a mall) that you regularly resupply it will be a-OK. If you plan to vend in public areas or commercial spaces open to the public and have to make a long drive from your commissary to your vending location and back, we recommend a different model such as a step van or airstream food truck.
The VW bus food truck is ideally suited to eventcatering or as a functional piece of decor for your event venue, restaurant, hotel or mall. Great products to serve from a VW food truck are drinks, sweets, sandwiches, coffee, ice cream, taco’s or wraps.
If you are going to serve pizza in a VW bus food truck, do not do it without a separate pizza (oven) trailer.
We do not recommend using a VW bus food truck for serving fries and other deep fried products that require multiple fryers.
We do not recommend using a VW bus food truck for barbecue without a separate barbecue trailer.
It is important to note many states require a “food truck” as defined in their public concession vending permits or even specifically food truck permits to be able to move under their own power. Even if this is the case and we therefore refit a vintage volkswagen food truck for you to be a fully functioning DOT approved car, it is still advisable to travel longer distances with the unit on a trailer.
NEW vw bus food trucks
Recently built or New VW Bus Conversions
Called the VW Bulli van in Brazil, new units rolled off the production line up to the end of 2013/early 2014. These are not replicas but actual authentic Volkswagen T2 vans built by Volkswagen Brazil.
Originally sold for the equivalent of approximately $20k, prices have gone up substantially after production ceased and availability has dwindled. Nevertheless we can reliably source these “youngtimer” vans for customers looking for a vw bus food truck conversion.
The main advantage is in the quality of the car – whereas we recommend not to drive the vintage vans for miles and miles, there is no such issue for these relatively recent builds once they are DOT/TüV/RDW approved. More modern safety features such as airbags are installed in many models as well.
A downside is the considerable time it takes to source, export, import, refurbish, convert to a food truck and re-export your unit which will – very roughly – take a minimum of 2-3 months from the moment we receive your downpayment to handing you the keys to a finished food truck build.
By assessing your dreams we come to a shared understanding of who we are building for and why
Exploring multiple design options lets us find the solution that best suits your business goals
We refine the concept and provide you with a detailed design that meets your needs
Close monitoring during production ensures we meet your standards. You can always fly- or drive in and take a look!
We offer a range of extra services to support your operation, so you can keep your focus.
WHY BUY WITH KARPATIA TRUCKS?
We also provide additional services to help you get started – from financing to food truck websites
Is a VW Bus food truck right for your business?
Frequently Asked VW Bus Food Truck related questions
If you have a MOT (RDW/TÜV or other local) pass then yes, even the oldtimers can be driven road legally. Replicas can not be driven legally on the road unless loaded on a trailer.
That you CAN legally drive them on the road does not mean you SHOULD – classic restored oldtimers will incur high maintenance costs if you start driving them commercially for tens of thousands of miles every year and it is our recommendation that you are still better to put them on a trailer.
Most low emission zones will first ban the VW bus based on their actual CO2 output yet then also make a carveout for oldtimers or professional vehicles used to carry out the business. In our experience it is possible to obtain an exemption in most cases but make sure to ask your local council first.
Yes, we will drive the European replica or converted-refurbished truck on the back of a trailer from Lithuania or Hungary to your doorstep. In case you order(ed) a Chinese or Vietnamese replica, we will ship the container to the nearest port and arrange local forwarding.
Yes, we ship to the USA and connect you with a local forwarder.
Containers go everywhere, and all trucks can always be shipped to the nearest port.
We might not have a local forwarder in your country (yet), in which case we will find one together with you.
We have our refurbishment and conversion workshops in Eastern Europe – a short distance away from international airports of BUD and VNO. In addition, we do not not use original parts in a restoration when it is not necessary.
A true afficionado may die a little on the inside when using off the shelf wipers for their Volkswagen restoration, but the people ordering coffee or fries at your service window will not notice the difference.
Karpatia has no showroom – but of course, we are always happy to show the workshop. You can make an appointment through our contact form.
Yes, of course! When restoring an original van to working condition as a catering van one of the biggest things to start off a quality build with is sourcing a good used vehicle. If you’ve already found one that is great and we are happy to assess the works needed to get it back in shape.