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Values of desirable models like the Samba, with skylight roof windows and a large cloth sunroof, have risen to supercar levels.
VW knows the classic microbus is having a bit of a moment right now. If bus fans have their way, we might see a version of this electric vehicle in VW dealerships soon, reinventing this icon of simplicity for a new century.
"It literally felt like you had four people outside pushing you—it was that slow. " The upside is that the classic Volkswagen four-cylinder engines have plenty of aftermarket support. Iglesias has modified several of microbuses with more powerful engines that make in the neighborhood of 150 hp so he can keep up with traffic. With a short wheelbase, narrow track-width, and soft rear suspension, the bus gets a little... It's best not to corner the bus too aggressively, as Iglesias found out during one very memorable moment."I was turning onto a freeway and I was going way too fast. But the bus sits very high and I was trying to cut the wheel too hard," he says. I straightened the wheel and I felt the whole van drop.
Here in America, the friendly face of the Microbus was (and still is) seen parked beachside loaded with surfboards on their roofs. The interior was purposely plain, with rubber mats on the floor.
That meant generations of surfers could stow their boards inside or out without worrying about ruining and carpet. And there was plenty of space inside to camp out for the night—or just hang and enjoy a beer and a great sunset.
In 1949, Ben Pon was a Volkswagen importer was bringing the first VW Beetles to the United States, but something besides the Bug captured his imagination.
Pon saw and fell in love with the utilitarian work trucklets the company used around the factory, which were based on the same rear-engined chassis configuration as the Beetle. It looked like an overgrown loaf of bread, but VW executives were impressed by what they saw and created the microbus, building it on Beetle mechanicals including the rear-mounted air-cooled flat four-cylinder engine.
One of the world's most recognizable and beloved vehicles, the slab-sided VW was sold in America for 41 years and over three generations until the very last ones—the more modern water-cooled Vanagon—left our shores in 1991.