What’s a Super Bugger? A VW camper conversion, of course!

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By James Raia
The Super Bugger was the result of a wacky idea of an entrepreneurial company in Costa Mesa, California. In the mid-1970s, the outfit converted a 1970 VW Beetle into a hybrid camper it called the Super Bugger. It cost $6,000.

The rage for the strange little machine conversion didn’t last long, and not many of the hybrids in decent shape remain.

The Super Bugger is a VW camper conversion made is the 1970s and increasingly rare.
The Super Bugger is a VW camper conversion made in the 1970s and is increasingly rare.

Beyond car shows and parades, the unique machines show up for sale on vintage automotive sites, including this option on eBay. The asking price is $39,900, just shy of five times what it cost new.

Super Bugger: Simple is good

Minimalism is defined. The conversion features a 1.6-liter four-cylinder, rear-mounted engine with a four-speed manual transmission and 60 horsepower.

An advertising poster for the VW Super Bugger conversion camper.
An advertising poster for the VW Super Bugger conversion camper.

There’s seating for four, a small sink, a two-burner stove and a dinette table. The table lowers and creates a two-person bed. A toilet and shower are missing.

The little wonder’s safety or lack of safety has been discussed since the vehicle debuted. Internet images show couples in campgrounds enjoying the outdoors with their rig in the background.

But many detractors abound. How can the vehicle find its way in any amount of inclement weather? Can it advance satisfactorily when mountain driving is required?

One keen idea for potential buyers is a similar approach to others who work on the road in their RVs.

With its simplicity, the mini camper conversion could make an ideal mobile office, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s the eBay listing: 1973 Super Bugger

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James Raia, a syndicated columnist in Sacramento, California, publishes a free weekly automotive podcast and electronic newsletter. Sign-ups are available on his website, www.theweeklydriver.com. He can be reached via email: james@jamesraia.com.

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James
17 days ago

My uncle had several in Fallbrook Ca. They were so cool. He was thinking of sending some to Canada.

Glenn Abbott
18 days ago

I lived in Klamath Falls, OR briefly in the summer and fall of 1974. Occasionally I saw one of these in town gassing up. Memories…..

Ellen L
18 days ago

I can’t put my finger on it, but this looks like a toy model. Like the posts you see where people get a great deal on a run or dining room set and it turns out to be doll furniture.

Admin
RV Staff (@rvstaff)
18 days ago
Reply to  Ellen L

Hi, Ellen. Your comment made me investigate further. If you click on the eBay link in the article, it shows that the Bugger is at a dealership. If you go below the image on that page, there’s a button to click on to view lots of large photos. Those show the interior of the Bugger, the dashboard with odometer, etc., which certainly verify, to me at least, that it’s not a toy. I remember seeing those years ago in the Seattle area. 🙂 —Diane at RVtravel.com