vw bugaroo

Farewell VW Beetle (and Its Motorhome You Never Knew)

Volkswagen squashed the Beetle today. So we look back on the crazy ‘Bugaroo’ motorhome nobody bought into.

Photo courtesy: MyStarCollectorCar

Stop the presses! The VW Beetle is dead – again. This week at the Geneva Motor Show, Volkswagen announced it will halt production of its iconic Beetle for the second time.

As Frank Welsch, head of VW’s research and development, told Autocar, “two or three generations is enough now.” And with that unceremonious farewell, the Lamborghini of suburbia and rent-controlled apartment districts is no more.

But did you know that at one time, the Beetle was much more than an excuse to punch the person sitting next to you? As it turns out, in addition to fondue parties and heinous floral-print furniture, the ’70s introduced the world to a motorhome-Beetle conversion.

And it is even more darling than its cosmopolitan cousin!

VW Bugaroo: The Beetle RV

Alternatively known as the “Lil’ Bugger,” “Super Bugger,” and “MiniHome,” the Bugaroo shines as a testament to aftermarket wonders.

This Beetle converted into a camper from r/interestingasfuck

The Bugaroos we’ve seen build on the 1968 Beetle chassis. So the front-boot beetle keeps the rear engine and adds beefier shocks for a live-in cabover trailer.

Photo courtesy: MyStarCollectorCar

The folks at MyStarCollectorCar.com initially posted pictures of the “Super Bugger” they found at a summer auto show in 2016.

Photo courtesy: MyStarCollectorCar

According to the vehicle’s owner, Keith Spelrum, the RVeetle (our name, not his) was an ideal conversion candidate because of the ’68 Beetle’s swing axle. He added a 1600cc engine from a VW bus, which he said helps the Bugaroo maintain 50–55 mph on the highway.

Photo courtesy: MyStarCollectorCar

As Spelrum’s info sheet shows, the build added about 25 pounds to the stock Beetle, and it still boasts an astounding 25 mpg rating!

That’s all well and good for Mr. Spelrum – but what about YOUR needs? Well, I’m happy to report that you can buy plans for your own Bugaroo conversion for 55 bucks! (Bug not included.)

MiniHome conversion kit on R.Q. Riley Design and Development

R.Q. Riley sells the plans here. Because rights-holders to the plans nixed anything with “bugger” in the title, they renamed it the MiniHome.

Riley’s plans state the cabover sits 79 inches wide, 73.25 inches high, and 125 inches (about 10.5 feet) long. According to the plans, the MiniHome has two pull-out beds, a stainless steel sink, and a butane stove.

This particular build, Riley states, reduces the Beetle’s top speed by 10 mph and does affect gas mileage. But he does list the handling and cornering as “much like the original VW.”

We imagine if Volkswagen had embraced the Beetle-RV concept more, we might not be saying goodbye just yet. As it is, we salute all the Bugaroo and MiniHome drivers out there.

And just in case that wasn’t inspiring enough – some crazy hippie also modified their Beetle with a fifth wheel – check this out! Farewell, Beetle!


Adam Ruggiero

Adam Ruggiero is the Editor In Chief of GearJunkie.

Adam has been covering daily news and writing about cycling, camping, hiking, and gear of all kinds for 15+ years. Prior to that, Adam lived in Hawaii and Puerto Rico, at which time he realized he’d never have a “normal job.” His pastimes — farming, bike racing, and fitness — provided a gateway to all manner of physical challenges and recreation outdoors.

Based in Kansas City, MO, Adam tests as much gear as he can get his hands, feet (and dog) into each and every day. As editor in chief, he works to maintain GearJunkie’s voice, style, and commitment to accurate and expert reporting across every category.