1972 Brubaker Box - Historic Flashbacks
Thinking In...and Out of the Box
What has one door, wooden bumpers, an air-cooled engine, and sofalike seating? It was an easy question to answer in the mid-1970s when Brubaker Industries of Los Angeles, California, created the Brubaker Box, a stylish and daring entry in the boutique vehicle market. Curtis Brubaker, an industrial design entrepreneur and president of the Brubaker Group design firm, treated the burgeoning van scenesters to something a little different…and bite-sized.
His creation, built upon the centerpiece of VW Bug chassis, engine, and transmission, received widespread praise for the exterior styling and general thumbs-up for its mere existence. It was a crowd pleaser wherever it wandered. Alas, only a handful were sold by 1973. After years of working for others, Curtis' pet project was deemed too costly for the company and all related assets were purchased by Mike Hansen's AutoMecca Industries in Tujunga, which reintroduced the vehicle as the Sport Van.
These 1974 photos show the AutoMecca B-Box/SV on the dusty access roads north of Los Angeles. Without a person to add scale to these photos, it's rather difficult to understand how small these vehicles were. There are no images of the driver's side, but the Box has only a single sliding door located on the passenger side for ingress/egress. Although the booth seating may have been comfy, the vehicle would have limited appeal if it had less storage capacity than a Beetle. To solve that problem, all non-essential seating was removable to accommodate hauling needs. This one has the VW AutoStick transmission, engaged by a solenoid on the stickshift knob.
The nicely designed official Brubaker Box brochure touted the Box's universality, stating "We Think It's Something For Everyone." It may have had that potential, but at nearly $4K in 1972, very few "everyones" got the chance to own one.