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Hippie Van

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"I've got a groovy paint job, man."
Whenever hippies are depicted as having wheels, the ride is almost always a van, and most often a 1970s Volkswagen microbus or a converted school bus. The van will often have a trippy psychedelic designs painted on it.

This is Truth in Television. By nature, hippies are gregarious, don't usually have a lot of money, and old Volkswagens are cheap. Thus a VW Bus is an ideal choice for hippies and their many friends to travel the world on a limited budget. Of course, as the hippie movement grew, the Bus became a symbol strongly associated with the hippie movement, and then hippies started buying VW Buses just because it was hip.

Besides low cost and high capacity, vans have other advantages for the hippie. Small, high windows make it easy for hippies to comfortably smoke pot and do other drugs outside the sight of passing drivers. Also, the van is convenient to sleep in during weekend music festivals. Many Hippie Buses have camper expansions or other modifications to make it into a living space.

Compare the Shag Wagon for its sleazier bed-on-wheels counterpart from The '70s.


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     Comic Books 
  • The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, owning a succession of clapped-out vehicles, naturally had a VW van. One lengthy story arc had them buying a derelict vintage yacht of a motorhome, fixing it up, and taking paying passengers on a cross-country road trip.
  • The Transformers: Bumblebee has disguised himself as this in a few continuities, typically by adding a holomatter hippy behind the wheel.

    Comic Strips 
  • Jeremy from Zits buys a very used VW van, which mostly sits in the driveway as a hangout spot for Jeremy and Hector.

     Films — Animation 
  • Cars: Fillmore is a hippie who IS a van; he's a Volkswagen Microbus with a trippy paint job.
  • Planet 51: Glar and his fellow hippie aliens get around in a hover-van, complete with a Volkswagen badge on the front.
  • We Bare Bears: The Movie: The bears steal a prisoner transport van that was intended to be used to relocate them out of San Francisco, then later give it a psychedelic disguise as they flee to Canada.

     Films — Live-Action 
  • Cheech & Chong movies often feature the eponymous characters in a VW van.
  • In Curse of the Headless Horseman, most of Mark's hippie friends travel to the ranch in a hippie van.
  • In Dark Shadows, Victoria hitches a ride with a group of hippies in their VW Bus.
  • Early in Electra Glide in Blue, Wintergreen and Zipper pull over a van painted like the Arizona desert and pointlessly harass the driver, spending an hour and a half searching through his art supplies, before Zipper plants marijuana on him. In the final scene, Wintergreen pulls over the same van for not having a front bumper, recognizes the driver, and apologizes. But as the van drives away, Wintergreen realizes the hippie forgot his driver's license and drives after him. The hippie's passenger shoots Wintergreen dead.
  • In Field of Dreams, the Kinsellas are shown to have been very liberal hippie-types in their youth (both went to Berkeley, both were fans of a radical author named Terence Mann, Ray jokes that his major was "the 60's"). True to their roots, Ray drives a VW bus.
  • In Flashback, a former hippie turned clean-cut conservative FBI agent is attempting to take in for trial an old hippie who has been on the run for decades for past federal offenses committed during the sixties. At one point in the film, he returns to the old commune where he grew up with the hippie in his custody and they drive off in an old converted hippie school bus.
  • Forrest Gump. Jenny's friends pick her up in a van.
  • Jesus Christ Superstar. The movie shows hippies arriving by a VW bus, as well as a school bus.
  • In Keep Off My Grass!, the hippies drive to their new home in Violets in a variety of colorful vans.
  • In My Science Project, Hippie Teacher Bob drives a colorful van with spots and peace signs.
  • The President's Analyst - Dr. Schaefer, fleeing foreign spies out to abduct him in Greenwich Village, ducks into a garishly painted motorhome. The hippie rock band who live in it recognize him as a man in trouble and let him ride along with them.
  • In Psych-Out, the band Mumblin' Jim drive a psychedelically painted van with an ankh made of flowers tied to the roof.
  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Hippies driving in a van stop to pick up a hitchhiker...
  • Wild Thing: As a young child, Wild Thing lived with his Hippie Parents in a painted van decorated with peace symbols.

  • One of three vehicles driven by the group of victims in the Friday the 13th novel called "Mother's Day (Tales from Camp Crystal Lake #1)," as two of the victims compose a neo-hippie couple.
  • The Girls is a Roman Clef about the Manson Family. As befitting this especially dark take on hippies and The '60s, Russell's clan tools around in a van that has been painted all black, even the windows.
  • Subverted in Illuminatus!, where Hagbard Celine's method of choice for drug transportation is an upmarket BMW. He criticizes George Moon's VW, pointing out that a bunch of hippies in a VW Microbus will be stopped and searched every time, while a white guy in a suit driving a BMW will not be troubled even once by the police.

     Live-Action TV 
  • Adam-12:
    • In "Training Wheels," Reed and Malloy pull over a van with stars, planets, flowers, and a bird stenciled on it. The driver accuses them of harassing hippies for no reason; when they explain that they aren't going to give him a ticket, a bird owned by his cop-hating girlfriend starts yelling "Down with the pigs!" from the backseat.
    • In "The Chaser," an old man calls the police to report a van with giant flowers on it parked illegally. While Malloy writes a parking ticket, the man accuses the hippies of communism and rants about how they should be run out of town, but the protagonists tell him the law protects everyone, including hippies.
    • "Harbor Division" features a van painted with a stylized landscape with a moon and stars, driven by a Western Zodiac-obsessed woman convinced that she can't have broken the law because she's a Libran.
  • In All Together Now, it is the seldom-seen joke of a rig driven by Bobby, who was accused of once paint-bombing a company CEO with it in the past (causing a problem for another character hoping to get a job with that company). As Bobby tells it, though, he was transporting the paint on his roof rack when the brakes locked up - and guess who was in the trajectory of the flung paint.
  • Dharma & Greg. Dharma's old-school hippie-parents have a VW van, which is usually either broken down or in the process of breaking down. Lampshaded in an early episode, when Dharma's father meets a former-hippie friend.
    Friend: [rhetorically] After all, how long can you drive around in a VW bus with shag carpeting on the walls?
    Father: [counting] Seventeen years, five months and...
  • In the Doctor Who story "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy", a MacGuffin is hidden in a derelict hippie bus. Guarded by a homicidal robot bus conductor.
  • A late-season episode of Down To Earth introduced the character of Tone, an aged Liverpudlian Hippie with a perpetually broken down, psychedelically painted, VW van in which he claims he ferried The Beatles about in.
  • In the Father Ted episode "Tentacles of Doom", a bishop who has just left the church says he's off to India with "a few friends." These turn out to be a cluster of hippies in a VW microbus, who beckon him in the open sliding door and hand him a joint as they drive off.
  • Lindsay gets on hippie van painted with flowers to go follow the Grateful Dead at the end of Freaks and Geeks.
  • Stargate SG-1: In the episode "1969" the SG-1 team accidentally travels back to the year 1969. They have to find the Stargate and end up hitchhiking with a hippie couple (on their way to a concert in Woodstock) driving a hippie-painted school bus.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "The Girl I Married", Ira and Valerie Richman spent most of the late 1960s driving around the US in a van trying to change the world.

  • C. W. McCall:
    • In the song "Convoy", the convoy includes "eleven long-haired Friends of Jesus in a chartreuse micro-bus".
    • "Crispy Critters" has a busload of hippies and their dogs descending on a small country town.
  • The lyrics to Men at Work's song "Down Under" start with:
    Traveling in a fried-out kombitranslation 
    On a hippie trail, head full of zombie translation 
  • Referenced in a few Fountains of Wayne songs:
    • "Supercollider", a psychedelic song about intoxication generally, describes a "multi-colored microbus travelling over rugged terrain", a succinct description of a hippie van.
    • "Peace and Love" is told from the perspective of a New-Age Retro Hippie who sings about peace and love, wants to move to Vermont, etc., and drives around in a Volkswagon van.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppet Movie sees Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem driving around in a bus covered in a psychadelic mural. By The Muppets (2015) the band had switched from their original, much larger bus, to a VW Microbus more in line with this trope. The Microbus was eventually destroyed during The Muppets Mayhem by an army of rival fans that the Mayhem had accidentally insulted. In the season finale the band rediscover their original bus just in time to take it on tour.

     Video Games 
  • The video game Convoy has a hippie van unlockable through a random event. It's fittingly named after the Woodstock music festival, although other names can generate as well. Unlike most examples, though, this one comes armed with machine guns, rocket launchers, or even dual miniguns.
  • In The Ditty of Carmeana, Death uses a VW Bus to transport souls between Earth and Limbo.
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The Truth drives a VW lookalike (in-game name Camper) with a psychedelic paint job called the Mothership.
  • The first Grand Theft Auto game had hippie buses among the many cars present. One, when first boarded, unlocked the explosive RC car.
  • One of the unlockable cars in Horizon Chase is the Janis, which is basically this. Its driver even talks like a hippy.
  • Vigilante 8 has Dave, a hippie who drives a VW Bus with the Vigilantes who finds aliens in his ending and establishes a cult to replace him in the sequel.
  • The Eco Ranger in Civilization: Call to Power resembles a futuristic version, down to the psychedelic paint job. In-universe, it's known as the "Hippy Nuke" — it can One-Hit Kill an entire city.

     Web Comics 
  • Charby the Vampirate: Back in the '60s John Marlowe, his girlfriend/wife Annebelle Ringer, and their friend Liam ran their monster hunting out of a green and black van they nicknamed the "Beast".
  • The Schetch Pad has quite a few, including some space-faring varieties.

     Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-1958 is a VW microbus currently en route for Alpha Centauri. Investigation revealed that a borderline Mad Scientist (if not outright Reality Warper) developed radical propulsion technology that allowed four hippies to blast off to the stars in the fifties. However, the idea of hippies in space quickly stops being funny when you read the diary — it turns out that none of them had the slightest idea of the distances involved, and the van flies no faster than it could move on the road (130kph/80mph). They thought they'd reach Alpha Centauri in a few weeks; they didn't even make it as far as the Moon before the last of them died of scurvy. The bus is currently near the orbit of Mars.
    • SCP-907 ("An Exploratory Vehicle"). SCP-907 is a 1960s Volkswagen van painted in a hippie motif (flowers, butterflies, etc.). It is capable of Teleportation to planets in other solar systems.
    • SCP-1574 ("Searching...). SCP-1574 once disguised itself as a van painted in "hippie" colors — while it was underwater in a Florida lake.

     Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: Mr. Small, the hippie school counselor, drives a van with a hideous airbrushed paint job he's named "Janice."
  • In the Futurama episode "Bendin' in the Wind," an ancient, abandoned VW bus is discovered. After Fry explains how it works, the crew get it repaired and go off on a hippie-themed road trip, following the musician Beck on his "Bendaid" tour. Unfortunately, it meets its end because it is not built for hover driving (and after 1000 years, the Golden Gate Bridge... isn't quite that anymore).
    Professor Farnsworth: Where's the device that lets you speed or slow the passage of time?note 
    Fry: [lifts up a bong] Under the seat.
  • Scooby-Doo. Shaggy, at least, is arguably a hippie (Velma seems to have some underlying hippie vibe going as well), and given that the Mystery Machine is a VW or not... painted in a trippy design, it's this.
  • The Simpsons: When Mona Simpson escapes from the law again at the end in "Mother Simpson", she's picked up by some old hippie friends who drive one of these. It's electric, too.

     Real Life 
  • Ken Kesey and his friends (the "Merry Pranksters") toured the U.S. in a series of converted school buses named 'Furthur'.
  • Even today, you can find school buses and VW vans that are permanently occupied in San Francisco's parks. There's also a tour bus company called The Magic Bus that Exploits this trope, offering tours of 60's counterculture sites in a psychedelically painted school bus.
  • For modern cars, Subaru SUVs and Toyota Priuses have this reputation.

Alternative Title(s): Hippie Bus


1969 Hippie Van

Hitchhiking in 1969.

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