The Hippie movement was one of the most influential cultural movements of the 20th century. Established in the mid-60s, the hippie generation promoted peace and love and was strongly against consumerism and materialism. One of the more interesting things about this curious time was the choice of cars that hippies drove. Here are the coolest hippie car legends:
The Volkswagen Beetle is the iconic car of the hippie movement. Ironically, in just a few decades, this little economy car went from having Adolf Hitler endorsing it to transporting millions of hippies to rock festivals. Officially, the production of the VW Beetle started in 1938 and ended in 2003. During that time, more than 22 million cars were made. The Beetle was the first global car in terms of popularity, affordability, and usability.
For those hippies that wanted a car with a little more sports in its DNA, there was the MGB. Introduced in 1962, the MGB was the successor to the very popular MGA, which helped establish the small-car roadster class in the U.S. By the standards of the day, the MGB was a modern car with unibody construction and excellent suspension and steering. Some people considered the MGB underpowered with a 95 HP four banger under the hood but it still moved the 2,200 LB car around nicely. The best thing about the MGB is that it’s simple to maintain. MG produced over 400,000 MGB, selling most of them in the USA.
Volkswagen T1 Microbus
Can you imagine an article about Hippie culture and no mention of the iconic Volkswagen Microbus? The Microbus virtually defined Hippie culture. Produced from the late ’40s to the late ’60s, microbuses were quirky workhorses which, according to the folks at Winner VW of Dover, DE, had essentially the same powertrain that the Beetles and thus were very reliable and easy to fix. Economical and plentiful, they were the perfect transportation for Hippies all over the world. As you probably know, they were often painted in vivid colors with flowers and messages of love and peace on the sides. Today, Microbuses have become very valuable classics.
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the Meyers Manx kit car. These non-Detroit vehicles were based on VW Beetle floor pans and engines. The Manx was the brainchild of Bruce F. Meyers, an American boat builder and surfer who wanted a dependable, yet cool beach car. They finished the prototype in 1964 and full production followed. By the early ’70s, more than 6,000 Manxes were built. Due to its characteristic design and great driving capabilities, the Meyers Manx became a symbol of the surf and hippie cultures.
In 1965, Volvo introduced the remarkable 144 model. In terms of safety, this car was extremely advanced. It had disc brakes all round, a split steering column and three-point safety belts. The body was revolutionary with energy-absorbing crumple zones at the front and rear. The 144 also introduced a triangle-split dual-circuit brake system. The car had two brake circuits and, if one of them failed, 80% of the braking effect was still available.
The Volvo 144 was a huge success abroad. A standard 144 in the US cost 2,995 dollars. In June 1966, the Volvo 145 Estate Wagon was introduced. This small wagon, at least by Detroit standards, hit America like a bombshell. Apparently this was the vehicle that America wanted because sales of the Volvo 145 were to put it mildly: strong.
So there you have it, these are the best classic hippie cars. Some are still available today and provide a nostalgic look back at one of the most iconic periods of American history.