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"It was cheap to maintain, easy to work on, and big enough to live in." Plus, the humble, low-power bus stood in contrast to the potent muscle cars and large, low and luxurious sedans that were popular at the time.

"The bus flew in the face of traditional social culture," says Reed.

Values of desirable models like the Samba, with skylight roof windows and a large cloth sunroof, have risen to supercar levels.

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That meant generations of surfers could stow their boards inside or out without worrying about ruining and carpet. And there was plenty of space inside to camp out for the night—or just hang and enjoy a beer and a great sunset.In 1949, Ben Pon was a Volkswagen importer was bringing the first VW Beetles to the United States, but something besides the Bug captured his imagination.Pon saw and fell in love with the utilitarian work trucklets the company used around the factory, which were based on the same rear-engined chassis configuration as the Beetle. It looked like an overgrown loaf of bread, but VW executives were impressed by what they saw and created the microbus, building it on Beetle mechanicals including the rear-mounted air-cooled flat four-cylinder engine.The tidy dimension and flat platform floor meant it had uses beyond simply hauling large families around.VW produced commercial and military versions too—including panel vans and pickup trucks based on the bus.

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