During its prime, the VW bus was praised for its size, spacious interior, and large windows deeming it ideal for long road trips and wanderlust infused adventures throughout America. It stored surfboards, sheltered campers, and shuttled concert goers nationwide throughout the 60s and 70s.


VW buses
Photo by Martin Bay

Originally engineered in Germany, the VW bus drove into American culture during the most groovy, carefree times of our nation, especially in movies and music. Springsteen and Sublime have all given shout-outs to the bus. You can even catch cameos of the vehicle all dressed in yellow for “Little Miss Sunshine” and as a hippie named Fillmore in the Pixar classic, “Cars”. The VW bus is even said to have served as circuit board currency for Steve Jobs while he was building his computer in the 70s that later launched Apple!


Over the last 25 years, Mike Wolfe has established quite the collection of historical items, and included in that extensive list is his own blue Volkswagen bus. (Looks awfully similar to the one on the cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘The Freewheelin’ album don’t you think?


And his split window bug as well!

Photo by Meghan Aileen
Photo by Meghan Aileen

Volkswagen – Thanks for the memories, 360 views, and providing shelter during that Santana concert.

Tell about how Volkswagen buses or any other models have influenced your own life in the comments below!



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30 thoughts on “Volkswagen: Cruising Through American Culture”

  1. William DeRuyter

    Mike , I had a 1967 fastback VW in red and black . The engine was a constant problem with the dual carbs and valves just one constant problem .But I have always loved VWs many friends had VW Bug, Beetles and Karhman Ghias , Vanagons Rabbits Sorrocos , Passats Golfs, Etc. VW needs to bring the GOLF back to the USA . Thanks Mike .

  2. Ron P

    I was never gettin’ the bug with v-dubs but I’ve had two Toyota Hi Ace buses with the rounded front because the look was similar so there must be something in that? Do you have old Vauxhaul Crestas over there? Very collectable over here in the UK cos they was rust buckets and then some, as a kid in the 50’s it was my dream car cos of it’s American looks. The early 50’s three glass rear window with the full length tail lights are the one’s to go for, drop dead gorgeous. The other dream car for me was the Renault Dauphine, when was the last time you saw one of those? Another rust bucket but on steroids unfortunately, still ,I saw them new

  3. Heidi Andrews

    VWs were a part of my life, growing up. My parents had a 1963 red Beetle during the early 70’s, then graduated to a 1965 Westfalia pop top camper, and finally a 1976 Sage green Westy that we took all over the USA.

    So many memories were made in those vehicle, especially the campers. That trip through the Badlands in July, with “Let ‘Em In” on a never ending loop on AM radio. The time we camped on the shores of the Atlantic ocean, in Maine, and walked a few feet to enjoy a lobster boil. Our 2 cats, occupying the cubby holes as if they were made just for them….so many good memories, in fact, that I now have a 1978 Sage green Westfalia of my own, restored and almost absolutey in its original condition. I cannot get behind the wheel of that van without smiling from ear to ear. It’s the magic of VW.

    1. Sarah Buckholtz Post Author

      It has been so cool to hear everyone’s VW stories. We would have loved to have joined you for the lobster boil… thanks for the smiles!

  4. Lois Rivest

    Hey Mike,
    At18 I bought my first car…a 1968 VW bug. Boy, I loved that car. I even bought it before I knew how to drive a standard. Needless to say, I put it through it’s paces and blew the engine within 3 years. After the bug, my husband & I bought a brand new “thing”…sure wish I still had that…I’d sell it to ya ! haha! It was soooo cool. We were even able to go 4 wheeling and to places Jeeps couldn’t handle. Needing 2 vehicles, I went out “unsupervised” and bought a ’68 VW ‘bus’ … I sure was inexperienced at purchasing cars and, once I got it home, my husband went out to look at it and the damn sliding door fell off the tracks and nearly knocked him off his feet. But, I still loved it, and I still get jazzed about it. Once we took it on the Mohawk trail in northwest MA and we couldn’t get it over 40mph….we didn’t care but everyone behind us got a little ticked-off.
    Needless to say, I have a soft spot in my heart for all the old VW’s in my life…they have given me great memories, and I love watching you pull them out of the rust. KEEP ON PICKIN’. Love you guys.

  5. Louise

    Little Miss Sunshine has one of my favorite movie scenes of all times, when the VW horn won’t stop and they get pulled over by a motorcycle cop. The first time I saw it, I laughed so hard I cried. Then the horn would start its mewling little honk again and off I went into another spasm of laughs.

  6. Joan Moore

    Thanks for the info – love your program and even watch all the reruns on Wednesdays. You now need a store just for women things.I definitely would be a valid customer as I m a collector

  7. Robert madlem

    Going to college in N Calif. in the early 70 s my transportation was a 67 European VW bus with a sliding door and no side windows. Became my home away from home many times. I traded my 67 Triumph Bonnevile for the bus. Both are long gone now, but not in my heart

  8. Shawn

    My first car was a 1979 Super Beetle! I loved that car! I could put $3.00 worth of gas, and ride forever! It was cool for a 14 year old driving up at the creek! Great memories!

    Columbia, MS

  9. Andrew

    Going cross canada and the US as a family of 6 kids in a a 72 VW Bus multiple times. Then going with my brother at age 16 in the same bus from Montreal to California to pick up car parts for my 71 GHIA and my brothers 64 BUG . VWs have been in my family for many years from the early fifties to now as I am restoring my grandfathers 68 BUG that he bought as the original owner. I hope to make this one last another fifty years so that other generations can enjoy.

  10. Ron

    My first car was a new 1966 ruby red VW bug, purchased at Circle VW in Long Beach. My dad helped me pay for it. I don’t recall what we paid for it but it but think it was around $2,000. I drove that car to school my senior year at Marina High School in Huntington Beach. In 1967 my best friend and I drove the car to Canada and back. We camped each night at campgrounds or just off the road. We slept in a pup tent and heated canned food on a folding sterno stove. My first job was a ride operator at Disneyland 1967 to 1969. Drove the VW to work everyday. I sold the VW in 1970. Wish now I hadn’t. Any one with a ruby red 1966 bug in good condition for sale respond on this website “comment” and let me know.


  11. Diane C.

    We have a 77 VW Westy camper named Lil’Beast. Her body is rusty and is a work in progress as she is in need of repair, but the inside is original and pristine. We love taking her out and about. We travel to several bus outings in North Carolina and Virginia and have a great time with all who bring their busses along for the trip. Check us out at FullMoonBusclub.com. Upcoming weekend in June at Natural Bridge Station, VA , Jellystone Park for our annual Natty Bus adventure. Come join the fun….

  12. Barbara Olson

    I learned to drive in my dads VW bug. It was black with a standard transmission. Not sure on the year. It was 60s. Remember stopping on a hill and pushing the clutch but not the brake. My dad reached over with his hand and applied the break. One of my favorite memories of 1976.

  13. Pete

    Fantastic memories of driving my 1974 superbeetle from Kalamazoo to San Diego, leaving on 7-7-‘77, and paying only $49.31 for the entire 2200 mile trip! I returned home quit my job and moved two months later to live with my stepbrother in San Diego. Bought a home and lived there for 12years and the 74 was my daily driver. Returned to Michigan and last drove my bug in ‘94. Started work on it in 2018 and it’s near completion. It’s been a long process but it’s turning out to be one cool “Cal Look” beetle. I bought the car in 1976 with 18,000 miles for $1200, even then it was a great deal! Car was black with tan cloth interior and the California sun took its toll. Paint faded and interior turned into “tissue” paper but the dry air kept the body and pan rust free, no such thing as a rust free bug in Michigan! Proud owner for 46 years! It’s been lowered, 3”wider fenders front&back, “big little” tires with nice rake, totally chromed engine and bay with dual Webber 1835cc. AWREET!

  14. I. D. Brood

    My daughter’s first car was ’68 VW bug. Easy to work on, fun to drive, and great on gas! The best repair book – The Complete Idiot’s Guide to VW repair!!! Back in the ’60s the cost new was $1999 painted on the showroom window.

  15. Teresa Bryan

    My friend, Dave Manning wrote a song about his VW Van, “Vincent Rolls”. They have been all over the USA. VINCENT Faithfully takes Dave from venue to venue so Dave can play his music and make the world a happier place.
    You can hear ” Vincent Rolls “on Utube. Maybe run into both at Burning Man. They always have time to meet a new friend in the Honky Tonks and Bars, or camped along a river under a star filled sky.

  16. Teresa Bryan

    My friend, Dave Manning wrote a song about his VW Van, “Vincent Rolls”. They have been all over the USA. VINCENT Faithfully takes

  17. Jon Albert

    When I was a Fine & Applied Arts undergrad at the University of Illinois back mid-70s, I had an industrial design colleague who was always eager to hop in his VW bus and drive out to the Illinois farm roads south of campus where, on occasion, we’d enjoy the relaxing benefits of smoking imported recreational agriculture products. The products were fairly mild-impact (especially compared to today’s) and the Bus was an immaculate example of a multi-window Transporter. The ample glass all around gave us a clear view of the Midwest landscape (well, as clear as the interior air quality would allow) so we could verify we weren’t being surveilled. At the time, 1972, his Transporter was simply considered a used car.

  18. Jim Young

    Love VW’s and have owned several including a 61 Westfalia. That thing wouldn’t do 50 mph if you pushed it off a cliff! Course with the drum brakes you needed plenty of room to stop!
    But what about Corvairs Mike? I own a 63 Convertible and a 63 95 Rampside.

  19. Amy

    Around the middle 70′ s my Dad bought a used VW van. It was quite ‘colorful’! We called it a ‘ Hippie Van’ the color pattern was ‘psychedelic’… Rectangular shapes of various colors. I remember mostly red and blue with colored outlines that didn’t quite match up with the rectangles they were sort of offset. My brother was driving the van home from high school marching band practice when the police pulled him over for no apparent reason and was snooping around through the Windows of the van. They saw the wide belt from his marching band uniform they asked him why he had a police belt? He explained to them it is not a police belt it’s part of his marching band uniform. The police couldn’t find anything that he had done wrong so they let him go. We figure they saw the wildly colorfull van and thought it was some sort of party van or something. My dad later trade it to a neighbor for a Chevy convertible car which was more of a family car at that time. That’s the only van I have seen with that color design.

  20. jeff dutton

    My 65 bus Gonzo leaves a smile where ever he goes. Currently we own
    1965 VW Bus Gonzo
    1971 VW Super Beetle
    1957 VW Beetle, I had try to buy this one for 12 years. Owner passed and his widow called me to come buy the Beetle cause she knew i wanted it and would revive it.
    1971 Karmann Ghia convertible, Father daughter project. She wanted her 1st car to be a VW Convertible. she drove it to High school on her 16th birthday.

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