America used to be in love with camper vacations. Just take your Chevy or Ford work truck, strap the box to the bed, and take the kids to Yellowstone. Don’t listen to your mom, she loves cooking fish inside three square feet even when she’s supposed to be relaxing! Anyway, the segment was so big that it spawned oddities such as the Super Bugger, a camper conversion for the Volkswagen Beetle.
Usually, campers and RVs are moved along by big American V8s because you need a lot of torque to deal with that extra load, especially going uphill. But somebody thought it was a good idea to have a Beetle camper with a tiny 1.6-liter.
The Super Bugger comes from the 1970s. A company in Costa Mesa, California promised you could turn any 1961 to 1977 Beetle into one of these things in just 60 hours. Yes, this was a DIY, though you could also buy it turn-key. With a base price of $6,000, the Bugger doesn’t seem particularly affordable even by the standards of the era, but with the Beetle being as popular as it was, we’re not surprised to hear that almost 1,000 were sold.
At one point, Beetles were so undesirable that you could buy one for $200, so many Super Buggers rusted away in junkyards. However, this one looks to be in mint condition. It’s coming up for sale at the Mecum Houston auction in about a week.
Beetle RV: how it’s made
The Beetle body appears rust-free and is finished in teal paint, while the camper conversion also boasts some teal accents. The lovely finned wheels are sure to attract a few nostalgic buyers as well. Unfortunately, a vehicle of this size is probably not suited for long journeys, and the 1.6-liter flat-4 engine means you’ll struggle up hills and down highways. It probably makes 40-50 hp, best suited to parades and car meets. The speedometer goes all the way to 90 mph, which seems a bit… ambitious.
To make the Super Bugger, the body is split in half. The bodywork is cut right in front of the door, where the 120-inch RV section is grafted on. The chassis is apparently also reinforced to cope with 250 pounds of extra weight. Inside the fiberglass shell, you have two bucket seats facing a wood dashboard. Behind that, you have a built-in table with benches and a stove at the back.
The fiberglass sits on top of a wood frame, which has many built-in storage elements, a built-in ice box, 14-inch roof vent/light, a closet, and a metal storage box. Yes, there’s also a bed up above, which is apparently big enough for two lovebirds.
It’s impossible to say what it’s going to sell for because the Super Bugger is obviously way more inconvenient than a regular Beetle. But a similar one went for $20,000 in 2021, and I have seen people asking twice as much. Personally, I’d just get a T2 Kombi for the money, or maybe find another 1966 Dodge Charger Great Dale Housecar.