RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TRUCKIN'")
GRATEFUL DEAD: (Singing) What a long, strange trip it's been.
MARTIN: It has been a long, strange trip for the VW Bus. From the hippie mobile to the family camper, the iconic van captivated America from the start.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: A Volkswagen is a nice station wagon to have around the house.
MARTIN: It was designed in the 1950s, when advertisements like this were acceptable.
(SOUNDBITE OF ADVERTISEMENT)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: If your TV set broke down right now, could your wife find something to talk about? Would your wife let the kids eat frankfurters for breakfast? Would she let you give up your job with a smile and mean it? Congratulations, you have the right kind of wife for the Volkswagen Station Wagon.
MARTIN: Over the years, the classic camper came to represent free love and endless summers.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)
MARTIN: But Volkswagen stopped making the VW Bus in 2003, which meant there was a new scarcity value to the buses still around. But what is old is now new again because the company says a rebooted electric model is in the works.
RICHARD ATWELL: It's going to be very hard to replace the Volkswagen that's in my heart, but a practical bus that has come back in a new form would be something I would be very interested in.
MARTIN: That's Richard Atwell. He was born in 1971.
ATWELL: I guess I'm a Volkswagen baby. My dad had a late '60s bus and that's how I came home from the hospital.
MARTIN: The VW Bus just had this surreal kind of charm. And it developed a cult following, attracting enthusiasts who didn't care when it broke down, which it did a lot.
ATWELL: It's been part of my life since the beginning. There's always been one in the driveway. There's always been one in the photo albums. It's always been something that I've used to build my life around.
MARTIN: Atwell says he is excited for the electric model, but he does have advice.
ATWELL: Go out and get yourself a Volkswagen Bus right away.
MARTIN: He means one of the classics, if you can find it. You might want to start looking in people's backyards.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MAGIC BUS")
THE WHO: (Singing) Magic bus, magic bus, magic bus. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.