This is an original Volkswagen Beetle Super Bugger Camper, it’s essentially the four-wheeled answer to the question “how can I make a VW camper that isn’t a Type 2.”

The reasoning behind the creation of the Super Bugger may be questionable, but the fact remains that they were reasonably popular back in the day, and they’re now considered highly-collectible by many in the vintage camper van world.

Fast Facts – The VW Beetle “Super Bugger” Camper

  • The Super Bugger first appeared in the early 1970s, a small company was founded in Costa Mesa, California that supplied turn-key Super Buggers as well as kits and/or plans for people who wanted to build their own. It’s not known what happened to the company however a few short years later they had disappeared.
  • In 1977 Mechanix Illustrated magazine published plans for a vehicle that appears almost identical to the original Super Bugger named the “Minihome,” which led to even more Beetle-Camper conversions occurring in-period, and the two designs are often mistaken for one another.
  • Due to the popularity and the inexpensive nature of the VW Type 2 van it’s hard to know why the original designers of the Super Bugger chose to use the Beetle as the basis for a camper conversion rather than the Type 2 – which had already been a popular target for camper conversions for 20+ years by that point.
  • Whatever their reasoning, it’s clear that a number of Super Buggers were built, with any seeming to have survived to the modern day. The example you see here is one of the nicest we’ve seen in recent memory, and it’s now being offered for sale out of Dripping Springs, Texas with an upgraded engine.

Building A Beetle Camper

In the early 1970s an unusual ad began appearing in the back of some American hobby magazines featuring the picture of a VW Beetle that had been converted into a miniature camper van called the “Super Bugger.”


Image DescriptionThis was the original magazine advertisement for the Super Bugger. As you can see, this display model is fitted with the same 15″ turbine-style wheels as the example in this article. Image courtesy of Super Bugger, Inc.

At this time, secondhand Beetles were incredibly cheap in the United States and in many other nations, parts were easily sourced, and maintenance was simple. It’s clear that the people behind the Super Bugger conversion felt that the Beetle would make the perfect platform for a do-it-yourself camper.

Why they chose the Beetle over the Type 2 VW Van isn’t known, the Type 2 was already a popular target for camper conversions of course, and the process was far simpler, but whatever their reasoning, the Supper Bugger creators developed kits to allow the average home mechanic to complete the conversion themselves in 60 hours.

Once you had decided to go down the Super Bugger path you essentially had three options. You could buy the plans, buy the kit, or buy a complete turn key vehicle built by the company at their facility in Costa Mesa, California.

It appears that most opted for the kit option, or at least most of the completed examples were built from kits, including the one you see in this article. Once completed, the Super Bugger would offer sleeping accommodation for either two or three people, depending on whether the space over the driver’s seat was used as a bunk or for storage/cupboards.

The main double bed was put together by lowering the table in the dinette set and adding the mattress stored in the main cupboard. The conversion process saw the entire Beetle body removed from the A-pillar back, the platform chassis was retained and the camper was built directly on it.

Once complete the Super Bugger would have a kitchenette with a gas burning stove and a sink with running water. It would have the dinette set that would convert into the primary bed, and it would be equipped with privacy blinds, overhead lighting, storage cabinets, and a ceiling vent.


Image DescriptionThis is a detailed cutaway illustration of the later “Minihome” camper that appears to have been very closely based on the Super Bugger. Image courtesy of Minihome, Inc.

Up front the driver and passenger would sit in swiveling captains chairs, these were chosen as when the vehicle was parked they could be turned to face the interior and become living room furniture.

It’s not known how many examples of the Super Bugger were completed, or how many of the later (and closely related) “Minihome” campers were made. We do see them come up for sale occasionally as as you might expect for a predominantly kit-built vehicle, the level of quality can vary quite widely.

The VW Beetle Super Bugger Shown Here

The Super Bugger you see here is one of the nicest examples we’ve ever seen, the listing notes that it was built under previous ownership using a Super Bugger kit, but if out wasn’t for that it would be easy to believe that it was a factory-built example.

In the rear you’ll find the dinette set that converts into the bed, next to this is the nicely appointed kitchenette with the two gas burners and the sink with running water.

The vehicle is now fitted with a more powerful replacement VW flat-four with a displacement of 1.6 liters and dual-port cylinder heads, an electronic ignition, an Edelbrock ignition coil, and a Weber Progressive-style two-barrel carburetor.

VW Beetle Super Bugger Camper 21

Image DescriptionAs you can see here, though it’s not particularly spacious, the interior is well done and it’s been built to a high level.

Power is sent to the rear wheels via a 4-speed manual transmission, and it’s equipped with front and rear drum brakes, and independent front and rear suspension, with modifications for a lower ride height.

This Super Bugger is now being offered for sale out of Dripping Springs, Texas on Bring a Trailer. It has 61,000 miles on the odometer and it comes with a clean Texas title in the current owner’s name. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.

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Images courtesy of Bring a Trailer

Published by Ben Branch -