Vintage Kodachrome: Exploring and Off-Roading In The Southwest In A ’56 Volkswagen

Continuing this series, in 1956 the photographer bought himself a new Volkswagen to replace his ’53 Ford wagon. He wasn’t the only one, as VW sales suddenly took off rather explosively in 1955, and were the hot new thing. And for someone who loved to explore the outdoors and off-road, the VW’s superb traction, high ground clearance, and rugged air-cooled engine made it a natural. It’s why I loved my Beetles: I could take them just about anywhere in Colorado, and often surprised genuine Jeeps on the most rugged of that state’s many old mining trails and such.

This first shot isn’t off-road, but it’s just superb.

It appears the owner replaced the ’56 with a ’58 or newer, with the bigger windshield and rear window. I remember my VW doing the same thing with frozen slush on its front wheel.


In the ’50s, VW owners were a very clannish bunch, inevitably waving to each other on the road, and such. It appears one of their friends also bought one at the same time. And yes, these “keys” were a bit of a thing at the time.