If you have never seen a “Brubaker Box” or Automecca Sports Van, don’t be ashamed. These VW based vans were rare in their day and are virtually automotive unicorns today. There was a time when we probably would have openly mocked something like this but the fact is, we think it is kind of neat because it has some pretty far out looks and the example profiled in this video has been completely restored and gets cruised by the owner who had lusted after one since seeing them in magazines as a kid. The basic design was developed by a guy named Curtis Brubaker who was any automotive designer and someone who recognized the exploding van culture of the early 1970s. Brubaker developed the body and the manufacturing plan and decided to go into business making these babies full time. He tried to work with VW to buy partial cars he could modify but the company wanted no part of that. Due to this issue, Brubaker would buy complete VWs, disassemble what he needed to pull off and then sell the extra parts. Needless to say that this plan didn’t remain sustainable for long and the company folded up shortly after coming together. Over the years, the design was scooped up by various companies like Automecca and others over the years with small numbers being made by each successive company.
The cool thing about this video feature is that it includes not only the owner of the van but also Mike Hansen who was involved in both the original enterprise of building the vans and the Automecca era of their production. Hansen estimated that Automecca produced 20-25 examples so the one in the video is in rare company. The most curious part of the whole tale for us is that like most other VW based cars, the vans were never sold as kits. We’re not sure if that was because it would have been too hard to ship all the body pieces, if it was going to be over the head of the average home builder, or that companies believed that there was more margin to be made by doing the work themselves.
The look and design of the van are certainly back “in” if you ask us. The Sports Van/Brubaker Box looks like a 1970s Hot Wheels car come to life that you can actually drive. The slot mags, heavy metal flake paint, faux wood bumpers, and awesomely ahead of its time sliding side door are all features that help to make the van what it is. Are we nuts? Is this thing cool? Watch the video and tell us!
PRESS PLAY BELOW TO SEE A BRUBAKER BOX CRUISING SOCAL AND LEARN THE HISTORY OF THIS UNIQUE MACHINE!