I live in a beach town in Southern California that hosts a lot of tourists. I also live close enough to the center of town and the beach that I see a lot of foot traffic, especially people walking from parking spaces to the beach. And the most photographed thing in my area is this:
People take photos from all angles, posing and using props, like skateboards, if they have them. I am amused by the kids who all have the same idea of pretending to be skitching for the photos.
The Volkswagen Type 2 Transporter (the Beetle was Type 1) was introduced in 1950, not long after the end of World War II. But for as long as I can remember, its image, at least in the United States, has been linked to the 1960s and the counter-culture movement. When I was a kid we called them “hippie vans”, imagining people camping in them on their way cross-country to a music festival.
Like the Beetle, the Type 2 had its engine in the back, so it had a flat nose. This allows the driver to feel as if they are on top of the world and can see everything around them. The interior was plain with rubber mats on the floor, which was one of the reasons for its popularity with surfers. No worries about getting saltwater or sand on the carpet. They could also throw some boards on top, leaving plenty of space to sit or sleep if they wanted to stay at the beach when they were done surfing.
The VW bus has evolved over the years, from the original with the split windshield, known as a Splittie (produced 1950-1967), through various iterations. Most of the changes seem to involve adding or removing windows.
The VW vans were loved by surfers and campers and families for their simplicity and roominess. They were cheap, easy to maintain, and you could pack a whole bunch of people into them. It was also slow and top-heavy, but the positives made up for that.
These days, I still see plenty of them around this beach community, at various levels of disrepair. I’ve heard that restored ones can go for a whole lot of money. But I still see all types from all eras, still hauling surfboards and people. Apparently you can still grab your board and your friends, and sleep in the van after a long day of surfing.