SEMA Seen: Randy Grubb’s 1959 VW bus/camper

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SEMA 2019
Ready Grubb crafted an aluminum-skinned rear section for his 1959 Volkswagen van | Larry Edsall photos
Grubb’s display at SEMA includes photos of past projects, including the double-decker ‘Magic Bus’

It’s pretty much impossible to walk past one of Randy Grubb’s motorized creations without stopping to appreciate the polished aluminum surfaces of his cars, pods, motorcycles, even a double-decker “Magic Bus.”

Grubb is as much an artist as he is a vehicle builder (he was an acclaimed producer of glass-blown paperweights before returning to his hot-rodding roots). Among his automotive coachbuilding creations are Jay Leno’s Tank Car and the Falconer-Dodici, a modern interpretation of a pre-war car full of French curves powered by a V12 engine.

Modified VW van is ready for camping trip

His “Magic Bus” involved a 1947 Divco delivery truck, a 1973 GMC motorhome and a 23-window Volkswagen Kombi van, which was mounted atop the motorhome-turned-bus, and was built with an elevator to reach the top deck.

The “Magic Bus” was built as a tour vehicle for a San Francisco-based private social club that caters to tech-industry insiders.

But after finishing the bus, Grubb wondered what it might be like to have one of his own. Well, at least the upper-deck section.

So, he found a 1959 11-window Volkswagen and, with the help of VW bus specialist Jeff Gagnon of Grants Pass, Oregon, he not only restored the vehicle but installed revolving front seats and added a sliding sunroof and an aluminum-finished boat-tail rear section. 

There’s even a book about Grubb’s artistic automotive projects

They also installed a 160-horsepower Subaru boxer engine to provide more than sufficient power, Grubb said.

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That new and elongated rear section of the vehicle provides space for camping gear, and Grubb and his wife are planning a post-SEMA trip to Yosemite and Sequoia national parks.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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