Thursday, November 19, 2009

Big Blue Visits: A secret stash of VW buses near Grants Pass, OR

While heading toward Almeda Campground, we got a glimpse of some buses. The next day, I took some turns to investigate and found this awesome collection of VWs in progress.

I parked Big Blue and went to the door and found Ron. I think our conversation went something like this:

ME: "Hi. Can I take some pictures of your buses?"
RON: "What?"
ME: "My wife and I are traveling in our bus and I wanted to take some pictures of your buses."
RON: "You have your bus here? I gotta see this."

And from then on, Ron couldn't have been cooler or more inviting. We swapped stories, showed him Big Blue and he took us around showing us all his projects. He kept saying that the buses were his son's deal and he was just sort-of into it. But you could tell he dug it and really enjoyed the buses.

He collects them from various friends. neighbors etc and hears about them all over the place. And he had lots of interesting buses that are waiting to be loved. Being in the bodywork business, seems like Ron has about 5 years worth of his own work in his front parking lot.

One of the more interesting "buses" he had was a Goliath. I forget the year now, but it must have been a '59 or so. It was some sort of VW bus knock-off by a German company back in the day. What a fascinating project! A bunch of pics below:

Soon, Ron's son showed up - I can't remember his name for the life of me - and was just as nice as his dad. He was in his late 20s and has a auto paint business. He told us stories about taking his camper out with his family and how his son loves the VWs. He gave us some t-shirts and we gave him a "Big Blue is a Friend of Mine" bumper sticker.

Then it was back to the back yard for even more buses: These are parts buses, buses too far gone that Ron and his son couldn't leave rotting in some field. All of them, their stories almost done.

This last one I found really interesting. As far as I have seen, the VW bus was pretty much left out of the customization van craze of the late 70s and early 80s. My theory is that the rear engine in the VW bus left the "vannin'" people wanting more space. After all, you can't put an aquarium and a fireplace in the back of a VW bus very easily. But, as the bus below illustrates, that's no reason why you can't put a cool, late 70s-style window in the back of your VW. This is one of the only examples I've seen of "vannin" mods on the exterior of a VW bus.

Here is a pic of the cool t-shirt they gave us:



Wow, that's an awesome collection of buses! Thanks for sharing the pics!

PJ Alau

Woah. Very Very cool. Now I want to find out more about the Goliath.

PJ Alau


Grants Pass, my adopted home town
where I got my first vanagon -there are MANY fine campgrounds on the Rogue and beyond.

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