As the name implies, there are 3 criteria which must be met for a part to be considered NOS.
The NOS claim is often misused because there's usually money involved. When presented with parts that are touted as NOS, ask for proof! Here's some helpful hints for surviving the NOS game:
Very frequently, parts will be referred to as "barndoor," for example "barndoor middle seat" or "barndoor headlights." This is a common misuse of the term, because a lot of the parts that are considered "barndoor era" were in fact used up through the first part of 1956, when production moved from Wolfsburg to Hanover. The correct terminologies should be "Hanover" or "Wolfsburg." For example, a Wolfsburg bus middle seat has six legs; a Hanover bus middle seat would have 4 legs. However, there are always examples of anomalies which occurred during the changeover period.
The following is a short list of some of the barndoor-specific parts; these parts that will *only* fit on a barndoor:
The following is a short list of some of the parts which are barndoor-era, but can be fitted to non-barndoor buses:
The following is a short list of some of the parts which are frequently mislabelled as "barndoor" parts
Another common misuse of this term is to refer to the side cargo doors as "barndoors," some have even referred to a double-door bus as "double barndoor."
Panels were the entry-leve commerical model. They had no windows in the cargo area except for the rear window, and there was an optional solid rear hatch available.
Panels were also used as the basis for several camper conversions, such as Sundial and EZ-Camper.
Some people mistakenly refer to all buses as "kombis," when actually it's just one of several
models. By definition, a "kombi" is a "kombination" of commercial and passenger vehicle,
which could be change functionality with the quick removal of the rear seats.
It has 3 windows in the sides of the cargo area, and one in the rear hatch. The rear window on a kombi is smaller than that of a deluxe.
There were only hardboard panels for interior in
the front cab section, covering the doors, roof, and behind the nose. There were no
headliner or carpet, and rear seats were optional. Kombis were frequently used as the basis for campers.
The standard was the entry-level passenger model. It has the same window configuration as a kombi, but with a nicer
lever of interior trim and a headliner. Standards usually came in two-tone paint schemes, and had middle and rear seats.
The Deluxes were the top-of-the-line modesl, primarily intended for passenger use.
They had nicer interior, polished aluminum body moulding and trim
on bumpers. These had wrap-around corner windows and an extra set of side
windows until 1963, after which the corner windows were discontinued due
to a larger rear hatch. Pre-'64 deluxes are also known as 15-Window
Deluxes and had a larger rear window; post '63's are known as
13-Window Deluxes. Also available was the 23-Window Deluxe (aka Samba),
up through '63, and the 21-window from then until 1967. The 21/23 window deluxes
had 8 skylight windows set in the roof line, and large fabric sunroofs,
although you could order one without. 1960 is a notable year in the model
line because they used special trim pieces behind the cargo door hinge,
but strangely, only on the front set of hinges, and not the back, although
the rears had holes drilled in them for the trim. Through some time in
1953, the skylight windows and the rear corners windows were plexiglass,
with the "Plexiglas" logo on them. Note the spelling of plexiglas, with
In 1954, the skylight windows were changed to green tinted glass, and only the
corner windows were plexiglas. Starting some time in 1955, the plexiglass
was replaced with normal glass for the corner windows as well.
The ambulance was unique, having a rear hatch without
a window that opened down instead of up, as well as a metal and glass divider
separating the cab from the cargo area. There were also 2 removable chairs,
and a folding jump seat, in addition to a special platform built to
hold 2 stretchers side-by-side. Other amenities included cabinets, extra
grab rails mounted on the walls and roof, and a special headliner construction.
Also available were fresh air fans: on barndoors, there was a roof
mounted scoop able the windshield, with 2 fans mounted in it. Later
ambulances had a special cover plate for the fresh-air box with
the fans mounted on it. These fans can be retrofitted to non-ambulance models.
You could also order the cargo doors on the driver's side. Ambulances
are great for people who love busses and love gadgets.
Other ambulance-specific features:
Single cabs were simple pickups with fold-down side
gates and a lockable storage area under the bed. The engine vents were moved
down to accomodate the bed. You could also get acess doors for the under-bed
area on both sides, as well as a metal frame hoop assembly and canvas covering
for the bed. There was also a wide-bed version and a wooden bed version.
The first single cabs were produced in August 1952, and until late '53, there
was no stamped pattern on the side gates: they were smooth.
Same as single cab, with the addition of a bench seat behind the front seat, and a single access door on the passenger side.
In 1957 and early '58, a company named Binz made the first double cabs, which are noticable by the "suicide" extra passenger door. Also, the
first regular factory production double cabs had a seam in the middle of the side gates, as the shorter gates for these double cabs were
made by shortening normal gates. In '60 they started making gates specially for double cabs. Double cab gates are hard to find, but not rare.
This is one of the most comical misuses! Some people think the term "double door" refers to the two side cargo doors. It actually refers to a bus with cargo doors on both sides, and doesn't necessarily mean a bus with the twin cargo doors - there are buses with a sliding door on each side, which is a rare configuration. I have even heard the term "double barndoors" which is even more hilarious. For passenger models, the middle seat folded down on both sides - a very hard to find item!
Semaphores, or "trafficators," were the predecessor to the flashing turn signal. When activated, an electromagnet pulls the arm up, a light goes on inside, and when the semaphore is up all the way, a contact is made and the turn signal indicator lights up on the dash. The light does not blink, although some people have made minor modifications so they will.
Safari windows were a factory accessory, which consisted of a set of replacement windshields that hinged upwards, new wiper pivots that allowed for the arms to be swing out of the way, a rubber mount, aka "one eyed duck" to hold the wipers, and various hardware. They were popular in warmer climates; in Central America, about 80% of the buses were ordered with them! They are reproduced by several companies now, and the quality of the reproductions varies widely. All safaris leak, be they originals or aftermarket, which is why they are less popular in warmer climates. Please note that in some jurisdictions is it not legal to drive with the safaris open. I don't recommend driving at freeway speeds with them wide open, as there is too great of a chance of something flying in and striking you.
Westfalia is a coachbuilding company located in a German town of the same name. They were the "official" camping kit conversion company endorsed by VW. So tightly-linked are the three terms "VW," "Camper" and "Westfalia" that some people don't know that they are mutually exclusive. Important thing to remember is that Westfalia is a separate company from VW, and there are camper conversions other than the ones produced by Westfalia. Westfalia also made other VW conversions, particularly pickup variations, such as the Wide-Bed pickup. They also performed conversions on other makes besides VW.
The Binz was a coachbuilt double cab which was available as early as 1953. The Binz company took a single cab and added an extra passenger cabin of their own design.
What should you do when someone misuses a bus term? It depends on the situation. If it's a financial transaction, knowing the difference can mean a huge difference in the value of a part. The terms "barndoor" and "NOS" are often deliberately misused to inflate the perceived value of an item. Keep your cautious head on. But when someone comes up to you at the gas station and tells you about a bus they saw in a field up the road, with "double-double doors," just smile and say "Really? Can you give me directions?" When I got the lead on my '55 westy, it was described to me as a "barndoor." When I pressed for more information, it turned out that it wasn't. But when he mentioned it had these strange things mounted in the pillars behind the doors, my interest was piqued. Keep your mind open - you never know what you'll find out there...