SUPER BUGGER A HEAD TURNER
Much photographed, vintage camperized Beetle the ultimate conversation starter
Sandra Paeseler and Bill Furlong can’t take their camper anywhere without dozens of people gawking, trying to stop them, engaging them in conversation and taking multiple photographs. Motorists race ahead of them on the highway so they can stop and take photos. Their Super Bugger gets more attention than anything else on the road.
Early Volkswagen cars were nicknamed Bugs for their petite rounded styling. So logically, the Volkswagen mini motorhome is called the Super Bugger with the nickname of Lil Bugger.
Paeseler inherited the odd little camper from her late father, who was the superintendent at a mine in California’s Death Valley. He saw the nose of the Volkswagen-based camper sticking out of a garage at a home in Nevada in the early ’80s. The owner didn’t want to sell. But Herbert Paeseler persevered by stopping by numerous times before a deal was struck. Herbert enjoyed camping and fishing trips with his Super Bugger in its original orange paint with ’70s-style orange shag carpet throughout the cabin.
Following her father’s death, Sandra imported the camper into Canada 20 years ago and stored it with friends until she got enough money to restore it.
The restoration took 10 years and cost about $40,000. That included a rebuilt engine, new paint and an all-new interior.
A big problem is that Paeseler doesn’t drive. “That’s why I have Bill,” she says, referring to her significant other.
“We love to see the smiles on people’s faces when we take the camper out,” says Furlong, a foreman at Shaw Cable. “Everywhere we go, it draws people and starts conversations.
“Seventy-five per cent of the people have stories about their Volkswagen. Everyone seems to have had one.”
The Super Bugger camper was built in Costa Mesa, Calif., in the early ’70s based on 1969 Volkswagen cars. They cost approximately $6,000.
The micro camper is remarkably efficient, featuring two double beds, a dining table, sink, water tank, two-burner stove, icebox and a storage cupboard. Up front are two swivel bucket seats, an overhead picture window and a custom wood-grain dashboard complete with eighttrack tape player.
Remarkably, the Super Bugger weighs only 250 more pounds than a stock Volkswagen Beetle and can keep up with highway speeds.
The Super Bugger was featured as the cover story in a 1977 issue of Mechanix Illustrated magazine. Plans were available for do-it-yourself owners to convert their Volkswagen to a mini camper. Paeseler and Furlong have shown the Super Bugger at three car shows where it became the main attraction. “People walk by cars that obviously have had a lot of money spent on them and they all come over to us,” Furlong says.
The couple was mobbed when they went to Stanley Park to have their lunch outside their camper. “People come over to ask what it is,” Paeseler says. “It always draws a crowd.”
Paeseler and Furlong continue to use their unique mini motorhome for daily trips including shopping and can always expect to meet new people.
“It’s the ultimate conversation starter. Everywhere we go it gets a lot of attention. I think my dad would be very proud,“Paeseler says.
Bill Furlong and Sandra Paeseler say the Super Bugger Volkswagen mini motorhome, built on a vintage Beetle, draws attention wherever they go.
The attractive cabin features swivel bucket seats and a custom wood-grain dashboard with a ’70s-era eight-track tape player. The camper weighs only 250 pounds more than a stock Volkswagen Beetle.