Time travelin magic bus

 
 Messenger photo by Rick Palsgrove
 Bill Lewandowski of Canal Winchester sits in his 1966 VW Micro Bus at Groveport’s Hometown Classic car show on Sept. 21.

Parked among the beefy classic muscle cars, brightly painted antique vehicles, and odd truck or two at the Groveport Hometown Classic Car Show on Sept. 21 was a simple, unassuming 1966 VW Micro Bus.

"Two things people say to me when they see it," said Bill Lewandowski of Canal Winchester, owner of the VW (Volkswagen) Micro Bus. "They say, ‘I remember when dad drove one of these,’ and the next thing they say is, ‘You don’t see many of these around any more."

He said he takes the vehicle to around four or five car shows a year.

"I like the American muscle cars and all, but this VW is just different," said  Lewandowski. "You look at it and it just seems to say, ‘Hi.’"

Lewandowski – a 1971 graduate of Groveport Madison High School and a retired Teays Valley fifth grade teacher, as well as retired Air Force jet mechanic – described himself as a "sixties kind of guy. I like the music and the era."

 

He said the VW Micro Bus is an icon of its time.

"You gotta love the engineering of it. It has a 50 horsepower engine that can easily haul a load of nine people down the road," said Lewandowski of his 1966 VW Micro Bus. "Families used to use a VW bus to go on vacations back in the 1960s. They piled in and drove to Colorado or wherever. It’s unbelievable how they did it."

He said his VW Micro Bus can hold up to 2,000 pounds and has a top speed of 65 mph. He added the vehicle is only six inches longer than its famous cousin, the VW Beetle. He estimated its value at between $10,000 to $12,000.

"It also has never stalled on me," Lewandowski said of the vehicle’s performance.

Lewandowski said his 1966 VW Micro Bus was built in Switzerland and, in its early years, worked as a bus hauling workers to factory jobs in South Carolina. By the time he found the 1966 VW Micro Bus 10 years ago in Ashland, Ohio, its interior had been gutted except for the front seat. He set to work restoring the vehicle by gathering materials from junkyards.

"It started as a father-son project," said Lewandowski. "My son got a 1967 VW Beetle and then I got this."

He said the unique style, affordability, and simple engineering, as well as fond memories of the vehicle, are what draw people to Volkswagens.

"VW is the longest running car in the 20th century," said Lewandowski. "There were more VWs made than Model A and Model T Fords combined."

"Some people like motorcycles. I like this," said a smiling Lewandowski of his Volkswagen bus.

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