Cars

History of the Volkswagen Bus

Volkswagen bus

The VW Microbus is one of the few vehicles that can make an entire generation stop and reminisce about the good old days. The Microbus was an important part of baby boomer history, which is why so many people are excited that an updated version of the iconic vehicle will be available in a few years.

The era of the VW Microbus

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The era of the VW Microbus dates all the way back to 1947 when Dutch importer, Ben Pon, designed the vehicle. Volkswagen accepted the design and officially started producing the microbus in 1950. That year, the company only produced 9,500 buses, which sold surprisingly fast.

The high demand inspired Volkswagen to increase production numbers, and the Microbus sold steadily for 20 years. Even though VW stopped producing the bus, the vehicle had cemented its place in history.

Why the Volkswagen bus was so popular

The original VW Microbus became the symbol of an iconic movement. It’s impossible to think about peace rallies and the hippie generation without mentioning this small bus. When the vehicle debuted, fans loved how easily it could comfortably carry many passengers and equipment. The Volkswagen bus became particularly popular with college students on the West Coast.

Many of the same students who enjoyed owning a microbus also helped grow a counterculture. Although not as fast as other vehicles on the road, people would pile into a microbus to attend demonstrations and peace rallies all over the country. It wasn’t long before anyone emerging from a Volkswagen bus was recognized as someone who marched to the beat of their own drum. 

Musicians, like Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, loved the microbus. Although Garcia passed away 16 years after VW manufactured the last Microbus, the company placed an advertisement in major newspapers to honor him. The ad portrayed a cartoon image of a Microbus that had a single tear rolling down its windshield.

Even today, 40 years after you could last purchase a brand-new Microbus, many people continue to shop for these vintage vehicles. Some want to own a piece of history or a memento of their youth. Others find that that the vehicle is perfect for camping adventures.

A new generation of VW Microbuses

In 2022, VW will roll out a brand-new generation of the Microbus. At first glance, the vehicle looks like a near match for the original. However, the interior is tricked out with more technology that makes it safer to drive. One of the most exciting changes: The new VW Microbus will be electric.