The Strange, Beautiful Saga of the Bullet Bus


This used to be a 1966 21-window Volkswagen Type 2 bus. Abandoned somewhere in the Nevada desert, it was partially stripped and left to rust, then shot up by gun-toting desert wanderers looking for a bit of target practice. But a band of intrepid enthusiasts rescued it while succinctly answering the question, “who would want this ugly hunk of junk?” And that’s where this amazing story takes off.
Don’t cry for me, Deartháir.

It's ok, this van has too many windows to be creepy.

Over 500 rounds pierced the already fragile tin walls of the bus before a member of, legendary vintage VW forum, put it upon a trailer and drove it 100 miles home. Within about a week kombisutra had installed a front end, transaxle, steering box, steering wheel, and brakes. As the Kombi was missing “virtually everything,” a massive donation effort was started. Seats, windows, electrics, ignition locks, a semi-functioning interior, DMV bribes—parts streamed in from every corner of the country, sent by enthusiasts who probably just wanted to see how far they could take such an improbable machine into the realm of function. And eventually the answer was, as the amazing video below shows, all the way:


In the VW community there are all sorts of tales regarding drowned, buried, or war-torn Kombis liberated by insane dedicated enthusiasts for future preservation or tax deduction/spousal revenge. After all, you would expect these sorts of desert shenanigans to happen to a washing machinea cabin or even a seaplane. But original VW buses still command a lot of money and are rare enough to preserve even (or especially) in the face of improbability, whether it’s down to devotion or sheer stubbornness. There’s something anarchistic—hell, something genuinely beautiful—about driving around in a van that’s got an open roof, no back or side windows, and enough bullet-induced perforations to make Sarah Palin feel underappreciated.
And if these were speed holes, this Kombi could win Le Mans.

Sources: [, Just a Car Guy, The Greasy Lens]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 64 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here

  1. acarr260 Avatar

    Traveling in a fried-out kombi
    On a hippie trail, head full of zombie

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      I asked do you speak my language?
      He just laughed and gave me a veg-e-mite sandwich.

      1. cmdrfire Avatar

        I come from a land down under,
        Where beer does flow, and men chunder.

    2. ZomBee Racer Avatar

      Far out man…

  2. highmileage_v1 Avatar

    That video is priceless. The driver looks somewhat paranoid though….expecting more incoming?

    1. facelvega Avatar

      I don't think it's paranoia, I think that look is saying "oh crap I can't believe this thing hasn't fallen out from under me," or perhaps "was it really a good idea to take this thing onto a busy highway for the video?" I noticed I had the same expression on my face just watching the clip.

  3. dukeisduke Avatar

    Flow-through ventilation.

  4. P161911 Avatar

    Looks like somebody tried to do a low budget remake of The Gauntlet. [youtube Z2PwDpkhozw youtube]

  5. kah Avatar

    Hoons you've got to love em!
    makes me feel warm inside just knowing of this resurrection.

  6. Black Steelies Avatar

    If Bonnie and Clyde were desert hippies…

  7. LTDScott Avatar

    I get it.

  8. scroggzilla Avatar

    [youtube xos2MnVxe-c&feature=related youtube]

  9. Deartháir Avatar

    It makes me so happy to see that someone has rescued that poor little guy from his life of abuse and disrespect. Now he can find his new home with people who will actually love him.
    What? No, fuck off, I've just got something in my eye. Both eyes. Fuck off. ::snif::

    1. cmdrfire Avatar

      No, I'm with you there. A 21-window is worth saving, especially in the above condition. Hell, I'm of the opinion that almost anything is worth saving – I'm only just now putting my (previously bondo'd and abused) Karmann Ghia back together, but a '56 lowlight has come up (cheap as well!) that will require a helluva lot of work and it is crying out to be saved.
      I cannot abide waste, especially not when the object in question had originally had hard work and toil put behind it to even build it in the first place.

      1. Deartháir Avatar

        Gasp! A Ghia! Be still my heart! The spiritual ancestor to my Corrado! I do want one of those quite badly.

        1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

          I'd love a Corrado. In fact I've got a lovely 1.8T engine right here in my A4, that desperately wishes it was in a Corrado.

        2. cmdrfire Avatar

          What she looked like when I bought her:
          <img src=""&gt;
          And what she looks like now…
          <img src=""&gt;

          1. bzr Avatar

            To be honest, I love the restoration but there's something so wonderfully "because fuck you, that's why" about the original.
            No doubt it was bought from someone who tried to pass it off as a "kustom rat rod Barris style" or whatever.

          2. cmdrfire Avatar

            Poor thing was covered in a thick layer of filler, and then a layer of ugly red paint, and the cream paint was applied badly on top. The "rat" styling was not actual surface rust, it was mostly just the previous layer of paint showing through, so it's not as if it was even a good rat look.
            Oddly the bare metal of the body shell was mostly there, as you can see from the primered picture, but there are numerous dents and dings and warpages and shoddy repairs which will be occupying my evenings soon (been concentrating on getting the floorpan done).

          3. Deartháir Avatar

            Wow, awesome work. Promise me you won't mess with the stance, though. The one thing the previous owner did right was get that perfect old school VW stance that just looks so goddamn good.

          4. Paul_y Avatar

            Almost every aircooled VW looks great when lowered just enough to close the tire-fender gap.

          5. cmdrfire Avatar

            Don't worry. Stance is gonna be there, but it's gonna be done properly, and not in some screwy joey way like the PO did.

          6. facelvega Avatar

            Damn it, man, if you're going to fix up an old car stop pussyfooting around with half-measures. Sheesh. Just wondering, did that used to be your living room before you started wondering how deep that filler really went?

          7. cmdrfire Avatar

            Well, after the body was taken off the pan it was sent away to a company that dipped the body in an acid bath to clean off all the rot (decided that was more thorough than shotblasting) and then dipped it again in a zinc primer so I'm not sure what you'd count as a full-measure…
            That photo was taken in the yard where they did the dipping. She's back now, and living in the tent I call my workshop.

  10. cmdrfire Avatar

    I think I want to recover that Catalina that was linked. Looks like it's mostly good metal, but the control system's gotta be shot.
    Now I just gotta learn how to fly.

  11. Paul_y Avatar

    This is amazing.
    Hilariously, hundreds of bullet holes directly implies that this bus is the ultimate Hood Ride.

    1. OA5599 Avatar

      50 Cent = 9 bullet holes, so this bus is worth at least $27.77

  12. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

    I couldn't bring myself to shoot an injured bus like that.

  13. Adrienne Avatar

    That's a fish eye Bus not a bullet Bus.