One of the most enduring symbols of the '60s counterculture, the Volkswagen Bus, will stop being manufactured by the end of the year. The German-born VW bus is produced in Brazil.
The reason for ending production of this historic and still popular model is new requirements that all vehicles in Brazil must have airbags and anti-lock braking systems. Engineers says this can't be done.
Who knew that the VW bus would become one of the most common cars in Brazil? In the '60s and '70s, American hippies charted courses across the country in their VW camper vans that had a pop top for more space. The '60s model is distinguished by the double front window. Future models had one big front window. VWs also have the engine in the rear. They're famously easy to work on.
For the summer of 1973, my traveling partner Ed Bender purchased a red and white VW bus. We zig-zagged all over that Midwest in the van, often holing up in hotel parking lots for the night.
The summer before that, we hitchhiking all over the country. One of rides came from a VW bus owner in South Dakota. The bus didn't care for hills, so we had to get out and push it over inclines. One time a cop car trailed us so that we wouldn't be endangered.
In 1990, I rode to the Minnesota Rainbow Gathering in a VW bus with Debby Goldsberry and a bunch of her friends. The bus broke down so many times we hardly made it there.
Anyone who grew up in the '60s and '70s surely has VW bus and "bug" stories. These are just a few of mine.
You can still buy a new VW bus in Brazil at the cost of $20,000 before the end of the year. Otherwise, you'll need to comb the classifieds and eBay to find a good buy for one of these American classics, founded in Germany and built in Brazil. Like I said, who knew?