This was the very first car I owned. The classic 1965, 23 window VW Minibus. It literally had 23 windows and it was that sheer idiotic number of windows that made this particular minibus iconic. I for one especially loved the four Apollo 13 space windows that flanked either side of the roof.

1965 minibus

Mine was identical to this one including having the rollback canvas sunroof. Look close in the photo and you can see it.

My friends called it the Green Turtle for good reason. Besides being painted mostly in some indigestible inorganic shade of green, it also had a top speed of just 55-60 mph.

The stick shift lever was 3 feet long. And the steering wheel was something like 2 feet in diameter.

The change signals were so huge that we’d often turn the headlights off at night, turn on the emergency flashers, and drive to the pulsing orange flashes. Those were for those magically shroomy Jefferson Starship moments.

Thinking about that, it had a radio but I don’t remember if it worked. I was too poor to buy an 8-track tape deck so maybe it was tuneless. Who knows? But it didn’t seem to matter much.

I remember one time after the bars closed at 2 am to taking the Green Turtle to the sidewalks. Then onto lawns. Through backyards. It was all so hysterically funny that we were all giggling like morons as each legally non-drivable barrier was breached.

We imagined the civilians lying in their bedclothes as we stealthed through their yards in the middle of the night. Laughing ourselves stupid as we envisioned the outrage as they woke up the following morning seeing tire tracks running across their once well manicured lawns.

I paid $400 for it way back in ’73. Today, fully restored its more like $80K.

It was then and remains [always] the definitive hippie bus.

I loved the damn thing even long after it blew up on the way back from a outdoor party at the Fire Towers. It was a great party. A monumental party. Lots of kids and lots of kegs.

I remember someone that night handing me an industrial sized marine distress flare. I popped the top and slapped the bottom and the rocket within wobbled as it clawed its way out of the tube before settling into a graceful steep arc that led almost straight up into the night sky. I held the canister too loosely so it surprised me on launch as tube just about shook itself out of my hand.

I stood there for a short spell holding the empty launch tube immensely grateful that I hadn’t blown my head off.

The rocket went up 150-200 meters where it ignited, lighting up the entire sky in a blood orange light before it gently descended sputtering to earth tethered to its parachute.

We all thought that was the coolest thing ever.

Maybe it was the steep hills. Or maybe it was because I had too many passengers. Or maybe the eight year old 40 HP air-cooled engine was just too wore out. Who knows? But it blew up just the same.

Much as it behooved me, I finally let Kenny Fettig beg it off me for $250. And the poor man that I was went back to hitchhiking for a spell.