Cool Video: A Restored Brubaker Box Van Is Cool, Weird, And One Man’s Dream Car

Cool Video: A Restored Brubaker Box Van Is Cool, Weird, And One Man’s Dream Car

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!


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9 thoughts on “Cool Video: A Restored Brubaker Box Van Is Cool, Weird, And One Man’s Dream Car

  1. john

    Mechanics Illustrated or Popular Science had plans for something similar back in the late ’60s, early 70’s. It called for using foam core sheets bent into shape and glassed. That’s all I remember. Soooo cool. 🙂

  2. Gary Smrtic

    Loved those Brubakers!
    VW really had something going with the old chassis setup it had. Sadly, that’s missing today, a car you can simply remove the body from, and put somthing else on. What could be done today like that, besides a Vette or Viper, and they are way too costly.

  3. threedoor

    Its really cool, especially compared to all the other VW based fiber cars and mods out there, except the bumpers, WTH?

  4. Sandy

    You wonder if the molds would be around? A small, we’ll run shop could probably do ok knocking out 10 or so a year. Everything old is new again and a guy could build a pretty cheap van if he could get his hands on the molds.

  5. ImpalaGuy

    Been waiting (since about 1982) for one of these to turn up on e-bay. I remember seeing these in my dad’s car magazines when I was a kid and thought they were cool then, and we should build on from one of grandpa’s old VW bugs.

  6. RockJustRock

    For anyone who claims Performance Enthusiasts never contribute anything major to the auto industry the first American Mini-Van was a Dune Buggy, in essence, a Hot Rod!

  7. Beaver Martin

    I’ve always wanted to “Foose” one of these, slammed with some wide 5 billet Fuchs style wheels, air cooled Porsche 4 in the a**, leather from the softest cows, and two tone paint so slick wax won’t stick. Man I wish I was rich…

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