This Scion xB Dressed as an Old Volkswagen Microbus Is Remarkably Well Done

I suspect that this is the sort of thing that many people will find ridiculous. Volkswagen Type 2 purists may be disgusted, many people will be confused, some will think it’s just absurd. But they’re all wrong. I think this thing is masterfully realized with a remarkable degree of skill, and makes a powerful statement about adapting your desires to your reality however you can.

These pictures were sent to me by a reader named Tom, who spotted the car in Ohio. The car is a first-generation Scion xB, the good one, a car I’m familiar with because I have one, and after hitting a deer, I’m pretty familiar with those body panels.

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What makes this tribute work so well I think is down to how well a few key original parts were used here. Those light units are the same double-glass Hella headlights used on the original, and the same goes for the taillights, which the builder laboriously incorporated into the tailgate here to keep their location roughly where the original Type 2 had its taillights. The reverse lights were kept in their original location, albeit with a new vintage-looking unit and on a blanked-out panel where the original xB taillight lens would have been.

I like the fake dual exhausts, too. It’s also worth noting that the builder here took the time to replace the xB’s black plastic rear wiper with an old-school spindly metal one. Nice touch.

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The chrome blade bumpers are set off from the body with brackets that mimic the types used to support overriders on old-school VWs, the steelies look like stock xB ones, but are painted white and modified to hold actual old VW hubcaps. Type IIs did often use steelies with many small round vent holes, so these work well.

The rear wheelarch is skirted to look more Type II-like, the rear window has been masked to be smaller and more like an old Bus, and there’s the iconic huge VW badge on the front. The front end does sort of puzzle me since there seems to be no provision for cooling air, but that could be routed in from under the bumper.

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Really, on the original xB, the upper grille was a dummy and all the air came in pretty low on the front bumper, so this setup probably works better than you’d think.

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The distinctive V-shaped two-tone paint job is, of course, crucial here, and everything is capped, literally, with a period-correct roof rack.

The hood, of course, is the biggest deviance from the original Bus one-box forum, but that’s also what makes this mash-up so interesting and strange. It’s an application of a full design vocabulary to a similar but different form, and as a result it looks like a glitched, distorted version of an image we all know very well. That’s not a bad thing.

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Just for fun, I decided to see what this would look like if the modifier really went nuts and pushed that windshield forward, enclosing the hood area inside:

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That’s pretty great, but it would be a colossal amount of work, and at that point you could just get a kei van already dressed up to look like an old bus. 

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There’s plenty of those available.

Still, I admire the work this person put into that xB, and I like how they clearly wanted an old VW Bus, but, with those things going for crazy money now, it’s likely it just wasn’t practical. So, with a lot of time and skill, they’ve now got something with modern Toyota reliability and a lot of that old-school bus charm.

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Why the hell not, right?

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About the author

Jason Torchinsky

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)