Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


I SUPPOSE my love affair with space-efficient Mondrian-rectilinear funky motoring began with the 21-window Volkswagen Transporter Microbus, aka the Samba, built 1964 through 1967. Alas, this love was, and will remain unconsummated. According to Keith Martin’s fine Sports Car Market/American Car Collector Pocket Price Guide, Sambas today are commanding six-figure prices.

This 23-window Samba had additional curved windows in the rear corners. Image by Voogd075 at Dutch Wikipedia.

VW recognizes a trend when it sees it (except maybe for diesels). The company has confirmed plans to build something along the lines of its I.D. Buzz by 2022. This minivan’s electric propulsion is suggested by the “Buzz” part of its name, a marked improvement, I’d say, over earlier monikers for VW bus concepts: The “Bulli” carried my favorite shape (but who needs more bullies these days?); the “BUDD-e” name was a trifle cutesy to me.

From the top, VW’s I.D. Buzz; image from, 2017. Middle, VW’s BUDD-e; image from, 2016. At bottom, VW’s Bulli; image from, 2011.

Gee, it’s enough to make me wish I had that 100 Large for an original 21-window Samba.

I confess to a fantasy romance with the first-generation Toyota Scion xb. It was certainly funky and clearly passed my Ingress/Egress Test (getting in or out without scraping hair off the top of my head). I would have had one in red, but with its stock wheel covers replaced with the kind that keep spinning even after the car is stationary. (I told you it was a fantasy romance.)

A 2004 Scion xb RS 1.0, with stock wheel covers. Image by Yayoooo.

To my eye, the second-generation xb went soft, losing its Mondrian rectilinearity. Sic transit gloria mundi.

And actually, my ultimate in funky mobility remains the Honda Unibox.

The Honda Unibox, exhibited at the 2001 Tokyo Motor Show. This and other images by Honda.

The Unibox is modular and individual, “sort of like setting up a Japanese apartment, but one that moves” (quoting SimanaitisSays in “Honda’s Architectural Wonder,” May 9, 2015.

Image from R&T, February 2002, collage by Leo Bestgen.

Yes, this has been a lasting affair.

Body panels of the Unibox are removable and hence changeable with one’s mood. There’s even a transparent option, or leaving them off altogether for au natural cruising the ‘hood.

The Honda Unibox, a city car of many styling options.

The Unibox’s floor is completely flat; its seats can be popped out for cargo options galore. There are even a pair of mini-commute electric motorbikes encased in the doors and a built-in shopping cart.

Now that’s funky. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2018

One comment on “ON FUNKY MOTORING

  1. Michael Rubin
    January 9, 2018

    The name “Leo Bestgen” brings back some memories.

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