Woman Wants Her “Hippie Van” Back

Michele Squires wants her bus back.

It has been 35 years since the 1965 Volkswagen microbus was stolen from an upholstery shop in Washington. The iconic "hippiemobile" was found last month in a shipping container at the Port of Long Beach.

Squires said she took the bus to the upholsterer to have a bed installed.

"It was great in the snow," she told The Associated Press. "Lousy heater. I kind of fell in love with it."

She's not alone when it comes to the VW bus. Investigators said the blue and white van -- which is in pristine condition -- is probably worth about $25,000.

That's a solid return on investment.

"I called it my hippie van," Squires told KHQ-TV.

One of the first minivans, the VW microbus was the vehicle of choice for  many counter-culture types during the 1960s. Despite poor aerodynamics, the bus was great for long, mind-blowing journeys.

After the van was stolen, Squires was paid off by the insurer, Allstate Insurance Co., which then became the legal owner. When it turned up at the Los Angeles seaport, officials seized it and turned it over to the insurance company.

The van had likely changed owners several times over the years. Most recently, it had been in the hands of a custom repair shop in Arizona, which refurbishes VWs and sells them overseas. Authorities say the owners of the shop are not considered suspects in the long-ago theft.

Squires has contacted Allstate to see if she could get the van back. Before she came forward, a company spokeswoman said Allstate would have the car appraised, apply for a new title and sell it at auction.

Asked Monday if Allstate would try to sell or return the car to Squires, the spokeswoman said the company was still investigating its options.

Squires said she probably cannot afford to buy back the van if it is worth $25,000 or more, as the auto theft investigator on the case has guessed. But she would at least like the first chance at purchasing it, she said.


Copyright AP - Associated Press
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