Often regarded as the quintessential hippie van, the classic Volkswagen Microbus was sadly discontinued at the end of 2013. Much of the reasoning behind this decision had to do with the fact that the bus could no longer keep up with stricter safety regulations, including air bags and anti-lock braking systems.
For many, this marks the end of an era. After all, the bus has been a part of some of the world’s most historic events. Damon Ristau, director of the Volkswagen film The Bus, says, “The van represents freedom. It has a magic and charm lacking in other vehicles. It’s about the open road, about bringing smiles to peoples’ faces when they see an old VW van rolling along.”
Based off of concept vehicles like the 1920s Rumpler Tropfenwagon and the 1930s Dymaxion car, the original Volkswagen Microbus debuted in 1950. And with each year, demand and production rose. In total, more than ten million buses have been sold globally since its inception 63 years ago.
Looking back through pop culture history, the bus has been featured on Bob Dylan and Beach Boys albums. It gained recognition at Woodstock and has been heavily linked to the California surf scene. Author Jim Motavalli says, “I have perfectly fine memories of Woodstock, underground newspapers, ‘elephant bells,’ incense, peace marches, the Vietnam War, and the rest of it. And VW vans, too, though I never owned one — they were everywhere back in the ‘peace, man’ era.”
Over the years, the bus didn’t died out, either. It’s remained a staple on the roads and in pop culture. Personally, one of my favorite recent pop culture moments is the bus’s role in the Steve Carell movie, Little Miss Sunshine.
Undoubtedly, the bus has become so intertwined with our culture that it’s hard to imagine a day when the bus is extinct. Fortunately, there are still hundreds of thousands of buses still out on the road, and because of their durability, they will be there for a while. But still, it’s a sad day to think that there will never be another bus produced. Volkswagen feels the same way.
Because of this nostalgia, Volkswagen recently felt compelled to make a video that honors the Microbus legacy. So without further ado, here it is: