Arizona Bus Club brings people, classic car together

There's a chance that someone has had a Volkswagen Bus at some point in time. After all, it was an extremely popular car back in the 1960s and 1970s.

Some regard them as a cultural icon, and now, they are once again popular. In fact, Arizona has its own "Bus Club" that brings people together over this iconic vehicle.

"You meet a lot of people in a bus," said Mike Baleda, who has been a member of the Arizona Bus Club (ABC) for 12 years. "Everyone has a Volkswagen story. They want come up and talk about it, they want their picture taken with it."

Be it a "Rivie", "Westie", or a "Double Bubble", the iconic minibus epitomizes freedom and fun, and the ABC is keeping the vehicle's history humming along.

"For one guy, it might be an original paint logoed panel van. For another person, it might be the fully decked-out, 23-window deluxe." said Richard Kimbrough, who was the fourth member to join ABC, which began 27 years ago.

At one point, Kimbrough owned 40 buses. Now, he's down to 27.

"I'm definitely on the recovery program now, so trying not to buy anymore," said Kimbrough.

For another member of the ABC, the iconic car was almost the birthplace of her son.

"I was going to have a home birth, and I asked my midwife if I could have him in the bus," said Michelle Evans. The midwife agreed, but Evans ended up delivering her son at a hospital.

The Volkswagen Minibus is officially called the "Type 2", and it was marketed in the U.S. as a "station wagon", because the car's concept was so foreign to Americans.

As for the ABC, it celebrates buses from all decades, and members of the non-profit restore one bus each year, and raffle it off for charity. Proceeds benefit local charities, like the Epilepsy Foundation and Dogs for Vets. Last year, the ABC raised over $20,000 with the raffle.

Fundraising may be a mission for ABC, but a sense of community and connectedness keeps the club rolling along.

"We do caravans, we even go take all our buses and go on a float together," said Evans.

The club meets on the third Wednesday of each month.

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