Instead of the VW emblem on the front, there are a varying number of horizontal chrome strips, sometimes only 5 – but often 8 pieces. The further down these bars are mounted, the more the length decreases.
The four wheel arches / fenders are decorated. These decorations are expressed in arches – actually more oval than round – with a chrome strip on the edges. The area inside the arch is usually colored differently than the rest of the lower area of the bus. Above the front axle, this arch extends a hand’s breadth over the dog leg into the driver’s door, whereby the arch begins at the side end of the bumper and ends just behind the front jack support. The situation is similar with the wheel arches above the rear axle – there the arches reach the same height and end a few centimeters below the ventilation slots in the engine area.
In the front view, two skylights above the driver’s cab, immediately attract the viewer’s attention. They are actually atypical for a VW bus. Even real insiders of the barndoor scene often mistakenly label them as typical features only for Kohlruss buses. However, this is a common misconception! In fact, buses from the workshops of several coachbuild factories such as Karl Schreiner and Göppel also have such unusual skylights – but they all differ in shape depending on the coachbuilder. In the case of Göppels buses, they appear much larger than those of the other mentioned workshops. In addition, it appears as if the skylights are darkly colored and have much wider, metal frames all around.
Where an original VW Samba has the typical 4 skylight windows along the folding sunroof, a Göppel Deluxe has 3 much wider windows of this type. These are reminiscent of roof glazing on large travel buses of that time and also appear darker than the other all-round windows on the bus. Just like the windows in the front roof, the metal frames are also kept wide here.
Behind the B-pillar, Göppel buses have a total of 4 windows in the passenger area, with the last one reaching around the corner into the rear view of the bus. The penultimate window is a longer pop-out window and, in contrast to the other side windows, has a chrome-plated frame. On early buses, I noticed that the top of these windows did not line up with the top of the driver’s door window. This results in the fact that the windows sit down at the „belt line“ like on normal VW window buses, but have a little air up towards the rain gutter – so they look more elongated than square. This is usually not the case with later Göppel buses.
The all-round deluxe-trim, which normally sits on the outwardly curved belt line below the windows, is in this case not located on this belt line but just right below. In addition, the chrome strip is narrower than usual and does not contain any inlay. A similar trim is located on the bottom of the side sills.
Only on closer inspection you might discover that a Göppel bus only has 7 ventilation slots instead of the 8 otherwise typical for barndoor buses. They needed to remove the highest slot to fit the lower sitting deluxe trim. Although a ventilation slot is missing, the transition is still flowing – in other words, the distances are even.
Photos of Göppel Barndoor buses rarely show a very bizarre rear bumper. Unusual not only in shape but also because of the position where it was mounted. And most disturbing: the rear bumper is divided! It’s much more like two individual rear corner bumpers than an ordinary, continuous bumper.
► Next chapter: The early history of Göppel company