CC Capsule: Beetle-Bago!


CC-reader Nagosnell found this gem in Belton S.C. and, judging from the headlights, believes it to have begun life as a 68-74 VW.  Some research revealed the “Super Bugger” decal not to be an owner’s personal touch but rather, the actual name of one of 200-ish conversions made, according to this source, by Bugaroo, a little shop in Irvine, California. The outside looks pretty restorable and we especially dig the period-correct turbine wheels. Unfortunately, the missing glass on the roof has probably wreaked all sorts of havoc on any cloth or wood left inside.  Either way, it’s a rare find and would make for a fun camper.


Originally known as “Little Bugger,” DIY plans for Bugaroo’s VW-based camper were made public and eventually, featured in a 1977 Mechanix Illustrated as the MI Minihome.  With oversized rear wheels and a reinforced rear suspension, these Beetle-conversions were said to handle very much like the donor sedan model.  For those interested in seeing just how true this claim is, plans to make your own can be purchased here today.


As we can judge from the attire in this photo, the VW-based Minihome was released during a time of very different expectations.  RVs are far from from popular today, and the Bugaroo was an outrageous extension of the concept even when new.  If someone were able to successfully merge the DIY plans for one with more adequate power, however, it could make for a fascinating project among air-cooled VW devotees.


That’s not to say that a similar concept holds no value today.  Campinn, a Japanese company, makes this fiberglass Prius extension and don’t laugh; I think it’s pretty cool.  While the famous Toyota hybrid will never be as accessible to cash-strapped buyers as the VW was, there’s a lot of be said for its use as a frugal recreational vehicle.  At about $50,000, on the other hand, anyone who can afford such a device is less likely to need such efficiency.  At the other end of the scale, the parts needed for a modern day Bugaroo mini home only run about $1500; add in $55 for the plans to make one and another couple grand for a decent VW Beetle, and the total is still much less.  If the value equation of such a project still leaves you perplexed, there are oodles of VW campers which can be found without the headache.



Related reading:

CC Capsule: 1969 Volkswagen Westfalia Camper – Perfect for that Workday Afternoon Siesta

Cars Of A Lifetime: 1979 Volkswagen ASI Riviera camper bus (one more time around)

Curbside Classic: 1988 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia – Slow, Expensive, And Loved The World Over

Curbside Classic: 1990 VW LT 4×4 Westfalia Camper – The Vanagon Syncro’s Gnarly Globe-Trotting Big Brother