The funky Brubaker Box could be reborn as reproduction kit

A crowdfunding campaign should launch later this month

Brubaker Box
Brubaker Box / Image Credit: Facebook
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The Brubaker Box was one of the coolest kit cars of the 1970s, with an all-fiberglass body, a sliding door on the passenger side serving as the lone door, a removal roof panel and bumpers mocked up to look like wood to appeal to the VW Bus-loving California surfer crowd. It looks like a moon buggy and was sometimes referred to as the first minivan. But because a deal to buy Beetle chassis from Volkswagen fell through in the early '70s, there is little concrete evidence of how many of them or its successor were ever actually built.

Now, Hemmings Daily reports that two entrepreneurs who have obtained what are believed to be two early versions of the Box kit are planning to offer reproduction kit versions.

The two California entrepreneurs, Tomo Bullum and Dale Davis, are Box fans who don't appear to be connected to the original Brubaker company or its successor, Automecca, which rebadged the Box as a Roamer SportsVan. They've apparently acquired two models: One, still unbuilt in kit form, came from a garage in Southern California, while the other was salvaged from a swamp in Florida and is suspected of being one of three original Brubaker Boxes.

The Box, as it has primarily been known, was originally designed by Curtis Brubaker, an industrial designer based in Los Angeles, who wanted a simple vehicle that could fit surfboards in the back. It was designed to fit atop the VW Beetle chassis, with other parts borrowed from the Chevrolet El Camino and Camaro, AMC Javelin and a Datsun pickup truck. According to Hemmings, the original plan wasn't to sell it as a kit, but rather as a complete vehicle priced at $3,995. "In 1972, with the mockup complete, he then raised about $160,000 to put the design into production, took out a patent on the design (D228632S), and even leased a 17,000-square-foot building to begin assembly," the publication writes.

But after VW bailed on the proposed deal, citing liability, he instead bought several brand-new Beetles to strip down for the base of the new Boxes. You can imagine how that might not be financially sustainable, and he reportedly only built three before throwing in the towel.

An investor, Mike Hansen, kept the vehicle alive through a new company called Automecca, and offered the rebadged Roamer SportsVan as a kit in several different configurations. He reportedly passed away a couple years ago, according to the Brubaker Box Fans Facebook group, which is where the photos came from.

Bullum and Davis originally intended to replicate parts for other Box owners but decided to replicate the entire 11-piece kit. Hemmings reports they're working on creating new molds for some of the parts, with plans to take apart the Florida model for parts to make the remaining molds. Plans call for mounting the reproduction body atop a VW Type 1 chassis, just like before, which suggests the market for this will be fairly limited and the kit could well be expensive. But the entrepreneurs say they're working with students at the Art Center College of Design to make it adaptable to other platforms as well, such as VW's forthcoming electric vehicle platform and the company's plans to allow others to build bodies for it.

A crowdfunding campaign is reportedly in the works, with plans to launch it later this month, by which time the duo expects to know how much the kits will cost and when they'll be available. That should also give some indication of the potential market for the new Box kits.

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