Bus

Yellow VW bus
Pentax IQZoom 170SL
Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400
2020

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for air-cooled VWs. As a small boy I used to sit on the front stoop and watch the cars go by on the busy road at the end of our street, and count the VWs.

It was the early 1970s, and the hippie era wasn’t over yet in Indiana. I remember a family up the street that had three teenage daughters who shared a white-over-orange VW Bus of this vintage. They dressed like flower children, but their parents wouldn’t let them paint the bus like flower children did in those days with big flowers all over it.

The mother of a middle-school friend drove one of these in white over blue. I rode in it a handful of times, the only times I’ve ever been in one of these. I loved its commanding front visibility and the relatively high seating position. In those days, regular cars rode so low!

When Chrysler introduced its minivan and it became wildly popular, I remember wondering why, as VW pioneered the form factor with its Bus. But Chrysler’s water-cooled, front-engined, front-wheel-drive minivan was a mainstream vehicle and VW’s Bus would only ever serve a niche.

If you’d like to get more of my photography in your inbox or reader, click here to subscribe.

Film Photography

single frame: Yellow VW bus

A nice yellow VW Bus I found on a photo walk. I’ve always liked them.

Image

25 thoughts on “single frame: Yellow VW bus

  1. It’s funny, I was a kid during “peak VW” and rode in many, both new and old. But I never rode in one of these, even though they were around in decent numbers.

    • I’ve ridden in exactly one Bug and, now that I think of it, two Buses. The other Bus was driven by one of my high-school teachers. He flogged that Bus hard.

      I drove a Karmann-Ghia. That was fun.

  2. DougD says:

    I have mixed feelings about the VW bus, my grandparents were nearly killed in a bus crash around 1980 and my grandfather had to live with us for a month while he recuperated.

    On the other hand they are super cool, that VW camper my daughter had her eye on (posted about it on CC) is now actually for sale. We decided that it was better to think about it than actually take on a massive bus project. If she wants to do a cross country trek she can use the Grand Caravan.

    The GC is in fact indirectly super cool, because I’ve driven minivans for 20 years and they are so cost effective I’ve saved enough for a motorcycle and a 63 VW and an 07 Mustang convertible! Fun times, although it’s hard to keep up with all the oil changes :)

    • Any of the forward control vehicles are dangerous in a crash. It’s not like I’m ever going to buy a Bus but if I had one I’d relegate it to use toodling around town, on surface streets, limiting top speed to like 30-40.

      I’d be open to a minivan again if I could find one the size of the original minivans. I rented a Toyota Sienna five ish years ago for a family trip and the thing was massive.

  3. My Dad had a ’58 bus. Under-powered and overworked and it even broke in two on one trip. He fixed it and kept driving it until ’67. I had many rides in that ol’ bus, and my spot was above the engine compartment. Unthinkably unsafe these days. That began many adventures with VWs in all their forms. They had character, they had charm. Today’s vehicles are all copies of one another and if you can’t read the badge you don’t know what it is.

  4. tbm3fan says:

    By the time we left the East Coast in 1966 I had yet to see any kind of VW. Then we arrive in the San Fernando Valley and that summer someone, can’t recall relation, drove my mother and us three kids to the beach at Santa Monica in a Bug. First memory of that. Second memory was a movie studio doing a promotion on the beach with an elephant and a couple of young women in bikinis. I had never seen such skimpy gold bikinis in my life which was 12 years old. I was impressed!

    I, myself have only driven a VW once in my life a 1971 Squareback as a one year company car when 19. However, my friend Ron, had a white over red VW Bus for a few years and I did ride in that from San Diego to the Bay Area, where my parents now lived, and then back in 1974. So a 1100 mile trip in a Bus. All I recall is the long slog up the Grapevine north of Los Angeles. Remember US 5 was pretty new and very little along the route through the San Joaquin Valley.

    • A Squareback! I loved those back in the day. They all disappeared in the 90s.

      1100 miles is a long time in any vehicle! Was it comfortable for the trip?

  5. tbm3fan says:

    To be honest I don’t remember. The only thing that stood out about that Bus was that I was going to lose my legs if that thing had a head on crash.

  6. SilverFox says:

    I had a yellow one similar to that but the yellow went all the way to the roof; it also had the “Double Top Moonraker” conversion with a double bed situated under the tilting roof.
    I the UK at the time it did (as you say) have a commanding view over the other cars which made it nice to drive even if it was pretty basic.

    • Oh fun, you had a camper version. I wouldn’t mind having a vehicle like that right now so my wife and I could take some getaways without having to rent a hotel room.

      • SilverFox says:

        Yeah it can be nice for an inexpensive getaway. My wife and I have a vintage trailer which we haven’t used a lot lately but taking it out next week for the weekend.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.