Big Foot found in California..or a VW Campervan….

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By Mark Weisseg

Here we are in the Napa Valley region recently with our eyes peeled for any old car or truck that fit the classic mode.

I see this VW ahead of us and he is getting away so the low speed chase is on. I mean we all know the bus is not going to light up the rear tires and ditch me. The driver of the bus is clueless that I am even on his tail. I followed him into a grocery store parking lot and took the picture. Then, we just sat there and looked this classic beauty over. Look at the windows on top and that cool luggage rack. What other vehicle do you sit in front of the axle while driving? Let’s be honest here. The bus was not a good driver at all. Sitting in front of the axle made the drive bumpy and adventurous. Great for the passengers because they had plenty of leg room and headroom. Most of us know you could buy a camper model with a little stove, sink, and fridge. Some had a pop up top made of canvas and others were fiberglass hard tops. We called them Van a wagons and or a Westfalia.

If you recall they were used a lot by the dead heads of the 60’s and 70’s. Easy on the gas, easy to work on, and certainly always fun to look at it. The buses as we called them always carried a soft spot in our hearts and many of us had a bug, beetle, Karman Ghia, a 411 fastback or even the limited addition VW pick up truck. The truck was cool because all the sides flipped down for easy access loading or unloading. The bus above had a big door on the right side for getting cargo in and out. Years ago I had a customer that owned a piano store and he only bought VW buses. Why? For all the reasons I stated above. He loved those buses and knew how simple they were. The oil filter screen was about nine, ten millimeter screws and the screen fell out. Clean it and put a new gasket on and reinstall. Draining the oil was one big plug. Anyone could do it at home. The vehicle was so basic and so enjoyable VW sold them fast. Yes, a bit under powered but with the big windshield and all the glass around you – one felt as safe as driving an aquarium.

The VW’s are classics today. I mean from as far back as the late forties to the late 80’s. I doubt the current diesel Passat will ever meet the mark or even the widely popular VW Rabbit diesel of the 80’s. When you see a old VW it makes you take a deep breath and sigh. How simple a vehicle and how back then everything seemed much less complicated.

I see these at shows and I always stop and look in side and ask the owner for the background story. If you do not believe me that the value is up I have seen a restored 21 window bus go for over one hundred thousand dollars. That’s a lot of money of course but when we buy our classics aren’t we buying our memories? And this my friends is one of the most pleasant memories I can think of.

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