Cars: Volkswagen's wooly Bulli
All I can say is: Wow, man, far out.
I've seen the Volkswagen Bulli, and it blew my mind.
Introduced at the Geneva Motor Show this week, the Bulli is a kind of magical mystery tour bus. It's so groovy, it’ll make you want to pack up your old lady (or your old man), pull on the bell bottoms and the tie-dye, throw Rover in the back and head for Woodstock.
Heck, take Sky, and Cheyenne and Dweezil with you. And don't forget the Ripple.
Automakers have been on a nostalgia trip in the last few years. Volkswagen gave us the New Beetle in 1998. BMW brought back the Mini Cooper in 2001. Ford redid the Thunderbird, then the Mustang, and then Chevy gave us the new Camaro and Chrysler the new Challenger.
Thankfully, AMC is defunct, so we don’t have to worry about a new Pacer or a new Hornet -- kids, ask your parents.
And while you're at it, kids, have your parents -– or your grandparents -– tell you their VW Bus stories. Watch their eyes get misty. Then watch them squirm. Then watch them change the subject.
A Times story Friday said that fewer teens and young adults are having sex. Researchers couldn't explain why. But if VW brings back the Bus …
Anyway, the Bulli is shockingly cool. And it's also 21st century: Powered by a 40-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, Volkswagen says it’ll go 180+ miles on a charge, with a top speed of 87 mph.
Which, as anyone who ever owned a VW Bus knows, is about 40 mph faster than the original, and about 100 miles farther than an original would go before breaking down.
No word yet on whether the new model will also catch fire unexpectedly. Or if it will have a heater that heats, or a defroster that defrosts, or windshield wipers that wipe.
Sadly, being electric-powered, it probably won't backfire every 100 yards either.
What the concept does have is a single bench seat in the front, and a rear bench seat that collapses. (See "fewer teens having sex," above.)
Also, there’s no eight-track. Instead, there’s an iPad in the center console that, according to The Times' story, "works as a multifunctional touchscreen, controlling the car's Bluetooth and navigation functions, as well as entertainment media, including Internet access."
All that, but no bong holder?
Volkswagen won't say whether it's going to produce the Bulli. A VW spokeswoman said the manufacturer sees "great opportunity for it in the U.S."
But if you can't wait, you can always buy a nicely restored original. There’s one on EBay right now, a beautiful 1967. The owner wants $59,500.
Which, as we used to say, is a lot of bread, man.
Photo: A study of a Volkswagen named Bulli is on display at the International Geneva Motor Show at the Palexpo fairground in Geneva. Credit: Uli Deck / EPA