By Collin Breaux
Featured photo: Courtesy of Capistrano Volkswagen
Retro Volkswagen buses and cars are emblematic of the 1960s counterculture, California and times gone by—and still driven and appreciated by classic car fans.
Come Sunday, July 10, local Volkswagen enthusiasts will get a chance to see vintage vehicles in person and bond over their shared appreciation for time-honored models.
Buses by The Beach, a car fan group that has organized meet-ups at local beaches, is hosting a classic Volkswagen car show at Capistrano Volkswagen (32922 Valle Road in San Juan Capistrano) from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. that day. A food truck will also be on-site for anyone who gets hungry.
Charlie Link, who organizes events for Buses by the Beach, said the gathering is intended to celebrate Volkswagen cars in a public area.
Volkswagens have a special meaning for Link, since he met most of his closest friends and loved ones through the vehicle. Seeing how people personally style their vehicles is “a lot of fun” for him.
Link likes facilitating the meet-ups—which he says he doesn’t profit from—because he gets to see smiles on the faces of fellow car enthusiasts when they get together.
The upcoming car show at Capistrano Volkswagen came about when Capistrano Volkswagen General Manager Gary Willenborg met Link through previous car gatherings, and the two discussed plans for and ultimately hashed out details for the San Juan show.
The public can expect a “cool collection” if they go to the Sunday show, Willenborg said.
There are a “lot of people” who are fans of the classic Volkswagen era, an appeal attributed to the vehicles’ appearances and the vibe they represent, Willenborg said.
“It’s kind of an expression of freedom,” Willenborg said. “It’s a culture unique to itself.”
Retro Volkswagen owners like to use the cars for weekend or even cross-country trips, according to Willenborg.
Asked for his take on the appeal of classic Volkswagens, Link said the designs are unique, iconic and can come in many different colors. The Volkswagen bus can be found on coasters or other merchandise, Link said.
“They’re all very easy to work. I think that draws people to them,” Link said. “They’re all just neat-looking.”
Link himself owns two Volkswagen buses, which tend to be a conversation starter with other people when he stops at a gas station.
Some of the classic cars for the July 10 show will be displayed outside at Capistrano Volkswagen, and premier vehicles will be inside.
“It’s just these guys hanging out and having a good time,” Willenborg said. “We’re excited about everything the bus represents—past, present and future.”
Collin Breaux covers San Juan Capistrano and other South Orange County news as the City Editor for The Capistrano Dispatch. Before moving to California, he covered Hurricane Michael, politics and education in Panama City, Florida. He can be reached by email at email@example.com