Launched in 1950 under VW's official designation of the T-2, this underpowered tin box became the counterculture icon called the VW Bus, the Hippie Bus, and the Choomwagon.
While loved by the hippies of the 60s, it was hideously bland unless it was painted with psychodelic rainbows and peace signs, which transformed the plain ugly box into a Peter Max depiction of Dante's Inferno.
The Hippie Bus was underpowered by the same flat 4 air cooled 1200 cc (1.2L) engine that enabled the VW Beetle to move in a forward direction. It had a top speed of 62 mph going downhill with a good tailwind, while 0-60 was measured by counting tree rings. Needless to say, going to San Francisco with seven hippies plus whatever hitchhiking members of the Manson Family they picked up on the way took a bit of time.
As for the ride, let's just say it didn't make the extra time it took to get anywhere a pleasant experience. The clattering box 4 in the back made the interior about as quiet as a chainsaw in a tin outhouse, and the shocks were so stiff it had a bouncing ride similar to a mechanical bull with a wooden saddle.
Those shocks had to be stiff, as the shitbox had a narrow track, short wheelbase and a high center of gravity riding on skinny tires which made any deviation from a straight line an amusement park type thrill. Keeping it in a straight line was no easy chore either as any movement of air blew the thing all over the road. The turbulence from a passing semi usually blew the hippies into a cornfield like it had been blasted by the thrust of a 747 taking off.
Heating came usually from bics lighting up a doob during the ride, and a/c was not even an option, not exactly olfactory bliss on a summer afternoon with a van load of aromatic hippies
For the head hippie piloting the Magic Bus, he, she, or it sat over the front wheels, with 1/8 inch steel and the driver's legs comprising the crumple zone in a collision
It was ugly, slow, dangerous, uncomfortable and noisy. So why do I have a bit of a soft spot for the VW Bus?
Well, it did kill a lot of hippies