You see fairly modern minivans covered with lefty bumper stickers all over the place, but those aren’t proper hippie vans. Given their value these days, a Volkswagen Type 1 Transporter isn’t a proper hippie van, either, because you can’t be a genuine hippie in the 21st century unless you’ve burned all your bridges to The Man’s unjust world and you have no Plan B of getting a so-called real job on the Downpressor Man‘s plantations. A real hippie van is a big, ugly, cheap steel box on wheels, with crude stencils and hand-painted messages on the outside and room inside for a dozen unwashed radicals who know that unless you’re free, The Machine must be prevented from working at all.
Today’s Junkyard Find is such a van.
The original owner of this one-ton van appears to have been the United States Army. My guess is that it hauled personnel around the Oakland Army Base or maybe Fort Ord until it finally got too wretched even for the job of delivering potato peelers to the base kitchen and was sold at auction.
Naturally, non-dilettante hippies would take great pleasure in repurposing a former war machine like this into a powerful weapon of the peaceful revolution of our minds and souls, while your wannabe hippies with day jobs would just slap some LOVE YOUR MOTHER stickers over the Army numbers and call it a day.
Beanbag chair saturated with scabies mites? Damn right!
Inside, a 2014 issue of Positive News, which has the look of an ironic humor sheet at first glance — yes, the cover story is about dolphins being declared “non-human persons” — but turns out to be deadly earnest.
I fixed up donated cars for a San Francisco anti-nuclear-weapons canvassing organization when I was fresh out of college. Such organizations need vehicles that hold a lot of passengers and run most of the time, because they use them to drop off canvassers who knock on doors to solicit money for the cause; the more passengers you can fit in such a vehicle, the better. This van would have been ideal for such duties. My guess is that its final owner was such an organization.
I respect no-bullshit hippie vans, but I felt a connection to this one that goes beyond that. Much of my childhood was spent in a 1973 Chevrolet Beauville half-ton van. It flipped over on black ice on I-80 near Battle Mountain, Nevada when I was six and my family was using it to move from Minnesota to California, but was repaired and stayed running long enough for me to crash it as a teenager.