This is a 1977 Volkswagen Microbus. Now, it may not look like much of a sports car because, chiefly, it isn’t. But in spite of that, beneath the familiar, careworn and very green exterior of this camper van beats the heart of an old friend to VW: Porsche.
In 1976, VW decided to spice up its aging van with the addition of an engine out of a slick new Porsche sports car. In fairness, it wasn’t a particularly loved Porsche. Called the 914, the entry level convertible is largely considered to be a sales failure, with sports car fans only now, forty years later, beginning to become interested in it. The engine itself is a flat four, much like the Subaru from two days ago, only it’s in the trunk, unturbocharged and much, much slower. The Porsche engine in the bus made 60 horsepower, which admittedly wasn’t great, and 101 pound-feet of torque, which was. This was the fastest version of the Microbus they made, meaning that it took 20 seconds to reach a normal highway cruising speed.
Now, there technically was a VW camper on Forgotten Metal a few weeks ago, but this one is totally different. I mean, it does share some things with the Vanagon: the engine is in the back, it’s slow and it’s rear wheel drive. And it’s a four cylinder. And the interior is has features like a stove, a sink, a bed and is decorated as your aunt’s kitchen. Okay, so not terribly different. Really, this one is just older. And greener.
That is not to say, however, that the Microbus isn’t interesting. This one has some very flowery curtains, and its front licence plate leads me to believe that the owners named it Guenter, which is definitely a sign of love. That, I think, is what makes old Volkswagen vans so endearing. Whether they bought their VW in the midst of the hippie revolution in the 1960s or as a young millennial with a love for the quirky, people who own them love them. Yes it’s slow, but not all gearheads are interested in speed. This is a car that doesn’t so much rev or cruise as it does putter along. It makes onlookers smile. And the biggest smiler of all? That’d be the owner.
- I lied earlier. The Microbus did not take 20 seconds to reach highway speeds. That’s excessive. It only took 19.9 seconds.
- People used to nickname the Microbus the “breadloaf,” which is adorable.
- This style of Volkswagen bus remained in production in South Africa until 2013.
- This might be my favorite color on any car on Forgotten Metal so far. Yeah, I’m weird, I know.