Mobility of all types has come a long way in a relatively short amount of time.  Consider the Volkswagen Powered ATV from about fifty years ago.

To be clear, it came along after a string of all-terrain creations.  But when it did, it was a man amongst boys in the rest of its field.

⇒ California’s Volkswagen Headquarters – Ontario VW

The Beginning of ATVs

So, the very first documented all-terrain vehicle was created in 1959 by a Canadian.  And that was powered by a couple of chainsaw engines with six wheels.

For better traction, the tires were filled with low pressure.  But those tires were big enough to provide buoyancy in water.

Fast-forward a number of years, crazy contraptions and even a US-based ATV racetrack known as the Pine Lake Raceway.

In August of 1970 more than 60 different all-terrain vehicles were being made and developed.  And that includes one with ‘The Peoples’ power.

Busse All-Terrain Wagon - Volkswagen Powered ATV - two couples look at the camera as vehicle floats in lake black and white image

Up to 28 mph on land and 10 mph in water

Busse All-Terrain Wagon: Volkswagen Powered ATV

Specifically called the Busse All-Terrain Wagon.  This particular car-boat-off-roader was considered rather herculean.  And, for a couple of reasons.

First, because most of the other ATVs being made were powered by tiny two-stroke engines.  Comparatively, the Busse’s powerplant was a 1.6-liter flat-four engine used in the current VW Beetle.  It was air-cooled, of course.  But it put out a whopping 55 horsepower!

And the performance states for the Busse Volkswagen Powered ATV delivered bragging rights for the category.  Because it had a payload rating of 1,500 lbs.  Plus it topped out at 28 mph on land and a blistering 10 mph in the water!  What’s more, is that the VW-powered ATV could climb 45-degree angles and it could even be equipped with snow tracks.

Considering the small town of Randolph, Wisconsin was the ATV’s home and assembly locale – the snow tracks were probably quite handy.

But the second primary reason the Busse was considered herculean was the price.  Because it was listed at $4,875 new.  And by comparison, that’s about $1,000 more than the average new car in the 1970s.

Ontario VW plate

SoCal’s VW HQ: Ontario Volkswagen


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