Fast Company

So Long, Camper Van! The VW "Bus" Comes To The End Of The Road

Production of Volkswagen's iconic vehicle, now in its seventh decade, is to cease. The last ever hippie van will roll off the factory line in Brazil on December 31, 2013.

After 63 years, Volkswagen has called time on its iconic Camper Van. The last remaining production line will squeeze out the last few vans as special editions and then, from 2014, that will be it.

Would VW's newest concept design, The Bulli (which may or may not go into production for 2014), be a success? It has traded its wide-eyed idealist looks for something more squinty and cynical.

Somehow, I fear that the producers of indie flicks such as Little Miss Sunshine will be less inspired by this offspring.

Any good Camper Van memories? Share them with us in the comments.

[Image: Flickr user Bev Goodwin]

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12 Comments

  • Woolie

    Wow, I am glad we have two of them. A 1993 Westy and a 2000 Westy. They just sky rocketed in value as they will very soon be collectors

  • Dajohnston1

    Mi casita! I bought a used 1973 VDub camper van in 1979. A medical student was the original owner but he only used the van to park in the lot at UCSD so he could study on campus. He never even took the plastic off the seats or opened the refrigerator. So I scored. I made up for all the lost time, too, driving the van up and down the California coast camping and surfing at every opportunity. I never quite mastered surfing, but I became an expert on how to camp off road and how to visit National Parks for a week without paying fees. I loved that van! It gave me a sense of freedom and independence that still defines me to this day.Eventually the fuel injection system went askew and the third gear was gone (imagine driving from Tahoe to Seattle at 30 mph). I sold Mi Casita to a retired Boeing engineer who tranformed her into a wheel-accessible  vehicle for his wife. It was concilation knowing that Mi Casita meant freedom and independence to yet another!

  • Julia

    Such a beautiful vehicle / piece of art that merges form and function wonderfully. We have a 78 Westie that still racks up lots of road trip miles. Our trip across Canada was profiled in Volkswagen Camper & Commercial Magazine a few years ago. http://blogs.barkingdogstudios...

  • Sonder Twyful

    Mid-70s: Driving on a very high span bridge over the Indian River in Florida on an extremely windy day. The wind was batting our VeeDub Bus from one lane to the other and finally just flipped us over on our side. Wham! What a rush! No seat belts, of course. We all landed in a tangle of arms and legs inside the bus. Traffic stopped in both directions, lots of people with long hair got out of their cars and helped us flip the bus back upright. Joints were passed around as thank-yous and we all went on our ways. That old bus was like the old Timex commercials: Takes a licking and keeps on ticking. I still plan to buy one more bus (refurbished) and toodle cross-country on back roads.

  • Mikesty

    So basically they are ditching campers for essentially a Pontiac Aztek? Come on. They redid the VW Bug so nicely, why can't they just make a sick Westfalia/Combi/ETC remake with more modern and efficient and adaptable things. Make it easier to mod but also offer add-ons like solar panels and marine batteries - they could make a killing if they offered those things.

  • Jason Tweed

    When I was growing up we had these mini SUVs and vans that drove like cars. We called them "station wagons" and they were ugly then too! So sad to see another car company jumping on the bandwagon. I liked when you could look at cars and know what they were based on shape. Even the ugly ones had character. (Yes, the Pacer, El Camino, and Gremlin, I'm talking to you.)

  • Gretchen Schneider

    The Bulli is amazing. Caught it at NYIAS in 2011 as a concept. It had amazingly high-tech features, including an iPad area on the dash for GPS and music purposes, which I hope they are able to keep in the design. I'm a longtime VW owner and enthusiast and this is one to watch, definitely my favorite updated spin on a classic in a while. As far as the headlights, VW has maintained the "wide -eyed idealist" looks in the lower dual headlights. Overall I hope it's a win for VW and can see it doing well out here in Cali with all the surfers. 

  • Lionel Felix

    Wow, so many memories! THere was that time when we were in Aspen and... no wait, cant post that in public. Well, once in Santa Fe a bunch of us... no, cant post that... Suffice to say, my memories are very nice, nice dreams nice if you know what I mean.