For as long as I can remember, I’ve always dreamed of owning a Volkswagen bus.
I’m honestly not sure where my love of them comes from, I’ve always just gotten a huge smile on my face on the rare occasion when I see one. Growing up, I went to car show after car show with my grandpa, so perhaps I’ve just learned what a treasure these classic vehicles can be. I never actually thought I would be able to own one though. Perhaps that’s why a year and a half ago when I stumbled across a VW bus for kids, I just had to have it. If I couldn’t have a real one, this was the next best thing.
I should also mention the fact that this bus belongs to my corgi, Twinkie. Yes, my dog has her own VW bus and it’s adorable. My husband converted the bus to be remote controlled, so that he can control where Twinkie goes, rather than Twinkie having to press the pedal with her little stumpers. Although initially I felt a bit insane for buying my dog her own car, I am constantly reminded of how much joy that dog brings to all the people she visits in her bus, especially at senior homes.
When my husband and I ran into a group of VW enthusiasts at a car show at Blacksmith Lounge in Hugo, we became a bit more serious about trying to find a real bus. We were so inspired by the great community and how helpful they all were in our search to find one.
During our search it was very apparent you either have to pay A LOT of money for a really nice one, or quite a bit of money for a not so nice one. We had quite a few buses fall through, but we stumbled upon one out in Iowa. It had good bones and was in the price range we were looking to spend, but it needed a lot of work. That’s no problem for my husband who has been working on cars since age 14.
We headed out on our five-hour drive south, picked up a truck and trailer, and headed to see the bus. This seller actually had two buses, but we were particularly interested in one of them.
Just getting the car onto the trailer was an adventure in itself. It was clear that the bus had sat outside for a while, as it kind of sunk into the ground it was sitting on. Within five minutes of trying to get the bus up onto the trailer, the brand new winch broke. We ended up having to connect a tow strap from the bus to the seller’s SUV and very carefully try to pull the bus up onto the trailer.
After we were finally able to get the bus up on the trailer and safely secured, we then headed on our way back to Minnesota. On our way back, everyone we passed seemed to be smiling, taking pictures, honking their horns, giving us a thumbs up or peace sign, and that reminded me of exactly why I wanted one of these treasures in the first place— to spread joy everywhere we go.
Similarly, to how Twinkie spreads joy when she rides around in her VW bus, I wanted to do that too. And now we can! Our 1973 Kombi is now up and running, although we aren’t comfortable bringing it for very long trips yet. However, we did make it to the Lino Lakes Community Fest Car Show and even did our first parade (Blue Heron Days).
So, if you happen to see Bernice (yes we named her) out and about, be sure to give us a wave!
Shannon Granholm is the Lead Editor at Press Publications.