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The 1963 Volkswagen Transporter

By Bill Bowman | August 15, 2012

Model year 1963 started on July 30th, 1962 with chassis #971 550 thru #1 114 302. At the beginning of the 1963 model year the standard body colors available for the Panel, Kombi, Single- and Double-Cab remained the same as last year: Ivory, Dove Blue, Light Grey, Pearl White, Turquoise and Ruby Red. The commercial vehicle upholstery continued to be a grey vinyl featuring a ÒpebbledÓ texture with sewn seams and new beige grey welting along the edges of the new 1/3 - 2/3 bench or walk-through seats. These vehicles continued to have the grey textured wall panels.
The standard color choices for the Microbus and Deluxe buses since March 1961 were Blue-White over Turquoise with Como Green upholstery, Pearl White over Mouse Grey with Basalt Grey upholstery, and Beige-Grey over Sealing Wax Red with either a Basalt Grey upholstery in the Microbus and Silver Beige upholstery in the Deluxe.
July 30th, 1962 brought the introduction of the 1/3 Ñ 2/3 style front bench seat and new associated mounting hardware, which now allowed for a much more adjustable drivers seat. This change spelled the end of the ÒhumpbackÓ bench seat. The new Òflared/lipÓ rear wheel arch also started that day, and since the front wheel wells were also enlarged, the new ÒdoglegsÓ became thinner. A new 200mm clutch with 380 - 420 kg of pressure (formerly 180mm diameter) debuted. The oil cooler now had an attached perforated screen plate. Also on that day the method in which the front shock absorber mounted was changed. Previously a bolt passed through the top of the shock and then threaded into a fixed bushing in the anchor plate/tower. Now it used a quality 10 K bolt, spring washer and nut. The recess for the spare tire in the front cab partition wall was made deeper. On the model 261, 263 and 264 Single Cab buses, the spare wheel/tire was mounted to the ceiling of the Òtreasure chestÓ locker with a metal bracket. Finally, the flasher unit was secured to the bus by tapping screws, formerly by a spring clip.
On August 1st, 1962 the transmission case clearance was again modified for the 200mm diameter clutch. And on the 2nd, engine cooling was increased with a new modified fan and modified cylinder heads.

On October 2nd, 1962 the one millionth Transporter, a Euro-spec 23-Window Deluxe, rolled down the Hannover assembly line to much fanfare, and then Volkswagen donated it to the United Nations Children's Fund where it joined UNICEFÕs 10,000 vehicle fleet. From this date onward, VW added the prefix number 1 to the sequential chassis numbers. On October 15th, most bus models received a ÒVolkswagenÓ sign mounted on the hinge panel just above the engine decklid. Finally on the 25th of October the speedometer on model 241 Deluxe buses received gear change markings for MPH speedometers. The Double Cabs got those markings on December 17th.
As of November 20th, the locking bars for the cargo door locks were even thicker, and were now angled more at the ends. On the 28th the optional (M-code #178) bus Òspeed limiter,Ó or governor, for the 1200cc engine received an additional damper spring and adjustment screw. Then on the 29th, on models 211 thru 222, the four-way flasher system that was introduced earlier (all USA spec buses and M-code 24) now featured a chrome-rimmed red warning light in the dash, to the left of the speedometer. Models 214 and 224 got it as of December 13th.
The "fresh air" cabin defroster/heater system was finally introduced on December 12th, 1962. Fresh air was now diverted from inside the fan housing and ducted through two paper tubes into the newly designed heater boxes. The hot #1 and #3 exhaust pipes were now encased in a finned, cast aluminum jacket, which transferred heat to the fresh air inside the chamber around those pipes. Eventually this heated air was released by controllable flaps, then routed toward the defrost ducts as well as into the interior of the Transporter. These new heater boxes also used newly designed lower air channel sheet metal nicknamed "sleds" to channel engine heat from the pistons and cylinders away from the engine. Also on the 12th of that month the headlamp metal housings were modified to be flatter in shape to increase interior leg room. On December 17th the front cab received rubber mats covering the wheel wells under the front seats. Transporters got a big boost in power when on January 7th, 1963 when the new 1500cc engine finally became available as the optional M-code #216 (initially for bus only) for about $110 extra. The carburetor for this engine had an electro-magnetic fuel cut-off valve with a #45 jet. The "speed limiter" was identified with a new "1,5" marking. The 1500 also got the 200-watt generator, a .6 hp starter motor and a voltage regulator which was mounted on the right side wheel housing, formerly on the generator. The oil bath air cleaner for this optional motor was initially located on the left side of the engine, suspended from the compartment ceiling, and it used a rubber tube in the air intake duct. New larger rear brake assemblies (front shoes were now 55mm wide and rear shoes were now 45mm wide) were introduced as a part of M-code #216 in Aug 1963, and the brake drums were 250mm in diameter. A "1500" script emblem started showing up for this option and was usually installed by your local dealership. The reduction boxes had a ratio of 1.26 : 1 for buses with the M-code 216. The 1500cc engine was eventually made standard on 1964 USA models through the 1967 model year.
The Westfalia SO-22, -33, -34 and -35 were the camper models currently made and sold during 1963 model year. Although the Single Cab could be ordered with two (left and right side) Òtreasure chestÓ doors for under bed storage by asking for M-code #071, it is also generally believed that all Single Cabs for US delivery eventually came standard with double treasure chest doors during the 1963 model year and onward. Safety concerns probably influenced several current and soon-to-come design changes to the exterior of Transporters, like the Òice pickÓ style door handles changing to the push-button style, the more protruding high hinges on cargo doors changing to stubbier, lower hinges, the ÒbulletÓ front turn signal housings changing to the flatter housings, and even the ÒoutieÓ style intake air louvers changing to ÒinnieÓ style louvers (especially with Deluxe trim strips).
On January 15th, 1963 the VW transport ship named ÒJohann SchulteÓ left the shipyard. With a load capacity of 1,750 Volkswagens in the holds and a speed of 17.25 knots, this ship, by then the largest and fastest ever built for Volkswagen, expanded their desperately needed transport capacity for overseas exports.
On February 17th the new ignition coils were shortened to 121mm long, formerly they were 143mm long. Ten inward engine air intake horizontal louvers replaced the nine ÒoutieÒ louvers on March 6th, causing the demise of those cool aluminum air vent trim strips on the Deluxe models. ÒOutieÓ louvers continued onward through the 1965 model year on the Pickup models. And on March 7th a double-ended screwdriver replaced the previous two separate screwdrivers in the tool kit.
As of April 16th, the optional (left side, right side, or both sides) ÒslidingÓ cargo door was made available as M-code 161, 162 or 163. And on April 23rd the headlining material changed to leatherette for the Microbus and Deluxe Microbus.
On June 4th, 1963 the metal ÒloopÓ in the vacuum line between the carburetor and the distributor was replaced by an upward bend in the pipe. Then on July 2nd the speedometers in buses bound for the USA came with gear change markings.
189,294 Transporters were produced, with a total vehicle production of 1,209,591 by 93,488 employees during the 1963 model year.

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The Specialty Equipment Market Association, or SEMA for short, was founded in 1963. Their largest event, the SEMA Show, is held annually during the first week of November in Las Vegas, Nevada. Since Hot VWs Magazine is a member of SEMA, we drove to Las Vegas to check out the largest automobile aftermarket show in the U.S. to find out the latest trends.

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