Flashback

It’s a midsummer’s night, so what better way to celebrate with than some more photographs of abandoned vehicles — (spoken like a true Luddite).

First up is a photograph of an ill-fated VW Van which I found on a back road outside Phoenix, Arizona. This was a remote place,  near nothing in particular. It was a hot day in April, and yes, those are bullet holes.

I owned a VW Van myself back in the 70’s and once drove it across the country in a trip that’s beginning to fade to the same extent as my high school picture. I do recall breakdowns and mechanical issues, and on the return trip we discovered that one of the spark plugs had fused to the engine block.

That was pretty bad news, because when we let the van idle, it would stall out.

We drove it home from Easton PA, all the way through NYC and then out to the suburbs on Long Island, gunning it in neutral at every toll booth and stop light in order to prevent stalling. If it stalled, it wasn’t likely to start. I didn’t check, but there must’ve been a pool of sweat under the driver’s seat.

I can’t remember what happened after that, except that my VW Van bit the dust. I always liked it, and it looked quite a bit like the one in the picture, minus the bullet holes.

This picture has become its elegy.

17 thoughts on “Flashback

  1. I can’t say what is nicer, the story or the picture. Well done, John. The fading colors are special. We used to have a VW-Van too. I remember lots of lovely holiday trips with it. I was a small boy in those days …

  2. Another great shot. I’m sure that with so many mad VW camper van folk out there that this could have great commercial value. Perhaps you should share with some of the camper van forums. I suspect you would get a great response. Particularly from all those people who have lost a loved VW…!!! Great work, Best wishes, PC

    1. Thanks, I have sold a few of these and also another picture of the same van which I shot straight on. The unedited version of this picture is a square (shot quite appropriately with my German Hasselblad). And you’re right–there is a large contingent of camper van folks still in love with the vehicle.

  3. I like what the first person said re the fading colors. They are really beautiful/special. And this one has washed up in an entirely different way than the one above, right? Entirely different personality…. Maybe. 🙂

  4. I travelled Europe in a VW bus – good memories – ours didn’t have bullet holes though … it DID have an elastic band holding the gear shift in 3rd, however.

    1. Someone could probably do an awesome documentary on the VW bus–collecting accounts such as yours from various points on the globe and putting a really good film together. Thanks for commenting; it sounds like you had a memorable trip!

  5. You’re right John! It would make a great documentary!. The VW camper excurstions of the 60s and 70s were akin to the Grand Tour of the 1890s. Our particular tour was 3 months and 13 countries with another couple and their 2 year-old and 6 month-old infant.

    1. Your trip must’ve been extraordinary. Did you shoot any film footage? Excursions with the VW bus were just as widespread here (in the US) during those years–the vehicle itself being a sort of “anti-establishment” icon.

      1. No film footage – slides mostly and they have deteriorated over the years and I am left with little but a journal and fading memories. But the overall experience I will not forget. Yes, the VW bus was a definitive 60s icon. And if it had a psychedelic paint job so much the better. I’m going to blog some of that trip …

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