One of the great things about a doing a podcast is that it gives you some sort of thin pretext to reach out to people you admire so you can just talk to them about all the cool stuff they’ve done, and it doesn’t seem nearly as creepy as stalking them until they go into a small convenience store and blocking their exits by shoving the Slurpee machine towards them and then opening the drink cooler doors so you’ve penned them in a little glass-and-Slurpee-machine box. This is less creepy, I promise, but it gets the same thing done: a legendary person in the automotive world tells us about fascinating things. In this case, the person is Curtis Brubaker, and the thing is one of the most legendary VW-based custom cars of the 1970s, the Brubaker Box. And this is just Part 1!
Here on the Autopian Podcast‘s 25th episode you’ll get to see me really geek out, because the Brubaker Box has been a favorite car of mine for decades. The Brubaker Box is a very sporty, low, van-like vehicle built on an essentially unmodified (as opposed to something like a Meyers Manx, which requires the chassis to be shortened significantly) Volkswagen Beetle chassis.
The design is a packaging triumph, small on the outside, big on the inside, with nearly all of the interior volume usable for people and their stuff. Here, you can see me geeking out about it as I show off some promo materials and a poster Curtis sent me a couple years ago:
There were so very many fiberglass kit cars you could build on a VW Beetle pan back in the day, everything from bodies that would make your VW look like an MG TD or a Bugatti or a little Big Rig truck or a cartoon Camaro, but the Brubaker Box stood out from all of these, because it was designed to a higher standard.
It wasn’t supposed to be a knockoff or bootleg of something else, it was a real attempt to fulfill a purpose via design. In this sense it’s in the same category as a Meyers Manx when it comes to VW-based cars, and even if it never got the chance to take off like the Manx did, it’s s still an important car in this wonderful and strange category.
Bruce is amazing to talk to, and it’s incredible to hear about all of the things he had a hand in designing: jet helicopters and the 8-track for Lear, portable music players and user interfaces and other automotive designs and so much more.
There’s so much good stuff here, and Curtis keeps teasing about Something Big he has upcoming. There’s so much that we had to split this into two parts, and next week we get to talk about an old Penthouse magazine and how Curtis has a claim to the design of the Cybertruck, at least I think he does.
This is a really good episode; give it a listen! To listen to the podcasts episodes you can go to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or you can use the RSS feed and point your favorite Podcast player at it. Below are some more recent episodes.
Listen to more podcasts:
- Bruce Meyer — The Ultimate Car Guy — Tells Some Incredible Stories On This Week’s Autopian Podcast
- “I Have A Flat Brim Hat And A Subaru. I Got This” – Zack Klapman Explains How He Stuffed A Subaru Into A Wall Of Snow
- Listen To Us Chat With Bring-A-Trailer Co-Founder Randy Nonnenberg About How He Built His Empire, How He Used To Be A BMW Engineer, And About This Amazing Ex-McLaren RV
Got a hot tip? Send it to us here. Or check out the stories on our homepage.
Support our mission of championing car culture by becoming an Official Autopian Member.
This is what Muskrat should have based his Cyber Truck on. This would be great as an electric vehicle with an entirely flat floor and the ability to load from the rear.
excellent podcast. we love to see the excitement that the Brubaker Box continues to generate even after 50 years since its inception. the future is bright with EV skateboard technology. at DRIVEN.CO we are continuing to restore the original molds to make body kits available for petroleum, EV, hydrogen and magnetic powered vehicles of the future. Can’t wait to find out what Curtis has in store for his B2 coming down the pipeline. the Box continues to be one of the cooles vehicles of all time…..and will continue to be into the distant future. We are also restoring a couple of Boxes, besides the Red one we now proudly display.
NOW this, this is what David should be looking for, to make into the Electric autopian press bus. https://www.driven.co/boxx/
Great interview and superb little vehicle. Grew up with a ‘57 Beetle and a ‘63 Bus. Saw a Brubaker Box at a VW rally in ‘73 and begged dad to buy one, but no dice. I’d go for one today in a heartbeat. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.
Off topic: Does the new commenting system allow for notifications when someone “likes” or responds to comments? Or does it at least show a listing of my comment history like the old system so I can check up on comments I’ve made?
I want to make sure that I’m not leaving anybody hanging if they respond to my nonsense… and my dumb monkey brain needs its little dopamine hit every time somebody gives me a thumbs-up.
I’m also wondering about ability to private message…
This was also the only working vehicle seen in Soylent Green, aside from the garbage trucks used for riot control & human remains disposal. Apparently, the Brubaker Box makes a nifty official limousine for New York governor Henry Santini in the far-off future year of 2022.
I was about to make this comment, but you beat me to it.