How the Volkswagen Bus Became a Symbol of Counterculture

Seventy years ago, the German car manufacturer started producing the Microbus—the first van and a striking vehicle for protest

When Jerry Garcia passed away in 1995, Volkswagen remembered the Grateful Dead frontman by running an ad featuring a VW Microbus with a tear streaming from one headlight. It was an epochal moment when two counterculture symbols came together in tender recognition of their influence on mainstream society.

In the 1960s, both Garcia and the Microbus came to represent a growing angst in America about the country’s role as a nuclear superpower and its reliance on commercialism to feed a voracious appetite for more, more, more. A certain segment of society decided to…

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