Click and Clack refrain from trying to talk Phil out of a VW Microbus.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Nov 01, 1993

Dear Tom and Ray:

I want to buy an old VW bus to use on car camping trips and to take to bluegrass festivals. What should I look for (or look out for) in a VW bus? Should I avoid automatics? How about campers? Everyone I ask has a different opinion. What do you think?

RAY: From a purely practical point of view, Phil, you couldn't possibly have come up with a worse idea. But we're not even going to try to talk you out of it, because we know it's hopeless. We can tell you're absolutely committed to this romantic notion of sputtering around the country in a VW Microbus.

TOM: So here are our suggestions. Even though you wrote to us for technical advice, the most important thing is to find a VW bus with the right history.

RAY: Right. The first thing to check is whether smoke pours out of the bus. Not from the engine compartment, from the PASSENGER compartment.

TOM: And the other signs of good "bloodlines" are the bumper stickers. Look for at least three of the following: "Grateful Dead," "McGovern '72," "Flower Power." "Don't Trust Anyone Over 30," "Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out," or a "Haight Ashbury" Resident Parking sticker.

RAY: Since you did ask specifically about automatic transmissions, if you see one, you should run as fast as you can in the opposite direction. These VW buses were so underpowered, that they barely made it over hills with stick shifts. So unless you plan to camp only in the cornbelt, I'd stay away from an automatic.

TOM: And I'd say a camper is a very good idea. That way when it breaks down by the side of the road, you can just say "we'll camp here!" Good luck, Phil. And give our best to Earl Scruggs and the boys.

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