Wednesday, January 21, 2015

New to World on Wheels: VW Microbus

In my "what if . . . " musings after I buy a Powerball or Mega Millions lottery ticket I sometmes get to daydreaming about the first vehicle I would buy.

Lately, the answer is a 1960s Volkswagen Samba, more often known as the Microbus.

I was recently surprised to see on an episode of Pawn Stars that a really nice restored example can be a $100,000 car in today's market. Oh well, when you win $100MM, what's $100K?

Sometimes I think I'd hunt down the white-over-green microbus that was featured on several episodes of That '70s Show near the end of its run.

But if I had cash in hand, my real first choice would be a white-over-light blue example like the one that sticks in my memory from my early college days.

As a freshman at the University of Wisconsin Fond du Lac, a branch commuter campus, my English professor was Dr. Michael Pikulef -- "pronounce it 'pickle-ef'" he'd said on the first day of class. 

Mike, as he insisted we call him, was almost the stereotypical liberal college instructor of the early 1970s, but that meshed well with my own philosophy at the time. 

I realized that I was really in college at my first party not long after school started. Besides the usual hippie chicks, pot- and pillheads and artistic poseurs, Mike was at the party.
Partying with the prof! I wasn't a high school kid any longer.

When booze ran low, a collection was taken up and Mike said he'd drive. Heck, he may have been the only one over 21 in attendance. I volunteered to go along. We got into his blue VW microbus and headed to a nearby bowling alley where we bought a case of beer, and to some other place I no longer remember for a gallon jug of cheap sangria.

I was really taken with that VW. You sat way up near the windshield and it had a tall stick shift lever. The bus had a particular engine sound that I can still hear today.

Some day I'd like to have me one of those.

That's why my latest World on Wheels custom card honors the venerable hippie wagon.

It's interesting that Mike Pikulef has almost no internet presence. I've found a couple of 10-year-old mentions of a Michael Pikulef in connection with the Village Playhouse in Wauwatosa, Wis., but that's it. I wonder what became of him?

1 comment:

  1. Bob, I must have gone through about four various model VW buses, as well as an equal number of bugs and one Karmann Ghia between 1965 and 1978 - the thing about the bus is that when you're rolling down a long hill in traffic you realize there is not much metal or structure between your legs and the back of the car in front of you - you could end up like Reagan in Kings Row


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