Zelectric Makes Volkswagen Bus Dreams Come True
Why wait on an imposter when you can own an original?
The Volkswagen Bus is one of those iconic vehicles that easily brings smiles to faces, and sparks imaginations: think adventure seeking along seaside highways with a Good Vibrations soundtrack or trundling down desert roads on quests for patchouli-scented enlightenment.
The German automaker recognizes this cache, of course, and has repeatedly teased us with people carriers that pay homage to the original at various auto shows over the past fifteen years or so. While we’ve heard they are likely to bring some bus-like creature to market around 2020, possibly based on the I.D. Buzz EV concept, some of us would be happy to own an electrified example of the real thing. That’s where Zelectric comes in.
The California company specializes in taking old Volkswagen products and breathing new, battery-powered life into them. Typically starting with vehicles in decent-to-outstanding condition, paint is touched up, trim replaced, and thoughtful touches added. Oh yes, and the cranky high-maintenance 4-banger boxer engines are replaced with air-cooled AC motors of modest output; something that allows both the dedication to simplicity and the manual transmissions to be retained.
The transformation turns that typically filthy compartment behind the engine bay cover into something you’ll be proud to lift the lid on in front of friends or strangers.
All this retro-perfection comes at a price — one that is not cheap. According to the Zelectric website, sedans start at $68,000. Still, if you like the concept, and have the means, investing in automotive art is hardly the worst way to spend money. Besides Buses and Beetles, the outfit has worked its magic on the Porsche 911, VW Type 181 (also known as the Thing), and Karmann Ghia.
While we could yammer on all day about this beautiful bus and other VW-flavored electro-retros, we suggest it would be far more enjoyable and informative for you to just sit back and feast your eyes on the video (above) that Zelectric principal David Benardo has put just together of his latest piece of work. Fittingly, it all takes place in Southern California…