MovieChat Forums > Harry and Tonto (1974) Discussion > Trivia buffs - - } What's up with the va...

Trivia buffs - - } What's up with the van Wade is driving?


Wade's the health salesman guy played by Arthur Hunnicutt that picks up Harry after ginger and his grandson leave him at that hotel. The van thing he's driving looks like it has a Volkswagen's topshell on the tail of it. My question is, what is this vehicle? Is it a custom job, and if so, what's the story behind it.

I've never seen a vehicle like that in my life...although, seeing as I was born in '79, I really wouldn't have been around for those in their prime.

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well, since it seems like no one's gonna answer this, i'll give it a shot... it's, most likely, a custom job. i've never seen, or heard of, another VW bus like that one. (and i've seen a lotta wacky vehicles) anyhow, the purpose for it would be to have a taller roof so that you wouldn't have to bend down inside. (the guy most likely uses it as a sort of camper)

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I'm bumping this thread, as I wondered the same thing when watching this film. What a unique vehicle, I'm sure it has to be some kind of custom job. I love the scene when the salesman pulls up in the van and says he used to sell cats, the same traveling salesman job that Harry pretended to have when he was speaking with the cab driver in NYC!

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Yes, it was obviously a custom job. VWs were very fashionable then (late 60s, early 70s); VWs were associated with youth, coolness and were sort of anti-establishment when compared with the Detroit brands. The van in the movie was a VW bus (called kombi in other countries), and it had part of a VW beetle shell on top.

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I'm assuming it's a custom job too. Looks like a VW beetle on top. The van is a 1964 Volkswagen Panel Typ 2 / T1
http://imcdb.org/vehicle_303016-volkswagen-typ-2-t1.html

I thought P.E.T.A. meant People Eating Tasty Animals

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Volks folks took pride in quirkiness. Volkswagen had a van with a lift top that was intended as a camper. In the true Volks-as-statement approach, non-camper microbus owners would make home-brew modifications. The bug mod was certainly unusual, which was the point for the film. The more common rooftop mod of was to add a VW wagon top to the top of the microbus. Lots more headspace than with the bug top added here.

So why a bug top? I'm thinking this particular mod was another bit of the film's gentle humor, poking subtle fun at the things we do in this life. Plus it's just that much more noticeable.

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