Beep Beep is no ordinary bus. It is a fully restored “sealing wax red” and white splitty Volkswagen (“splitty” refers to the two-panel windshield). The bus, named Beep Beep, was also its owner’s long-lost honeymoon ride.
Beep Beep’s 86-year-old owner, John Adair, is a multifaceted businessperson. Adair calls himself an “educational entrepreneur” because of his experience starting several Montessori schools in Omaha. He is also the co-founder of U.S. Assets, a nearly 25-year-old tax business that buys delinquent property taxes from various states, pays them, and profits from penalty collections. The delinquent taxes, he explains, are crucial to funding schools. Adair also serves on a number of nonprofit boards.
Adair’s philosophy is not about profit. Rather, he believes in generosity, free-spiritedness, harmony, love, friendship, and family. These ideals, Adair says, are embodied in his choice of vehicle: a 1960 Volkswagen Microbus Deluxe-SO 22.
Auto restoration expert Mike Carroll, proprietor of Air Cooled Express in Bennington, helped to bring Beep Beep back to life. Carroll says the bus model is the “high line of (VW) busses,” characterized by “nice chrome and a fancy interior—all of the amenities offered back then, and from Germany.
He received Beep Beep from Adair via flatbed. When Carroll first saw the bus, he says it “looked like an unfixable wreck…It sat in a forest for 40 years.” The bus had changed owners many times since Adair’s initial possession. It had served many roles: from family van, to television sales vehicle, to being a storage container.
Adair rescued the abandoned, rusting, and hopelessly immobile Beep Beep from an Iowa forest in 2014. Long before that time, Beep Beep carried Adair and his wife, Rosemarie, across Germany during their 1960 honeymoon.
Beep Beep was “born in Hanover (Germany), same as Rosemarie,” says Adair. He purchased the vehicle on behalf of his father with the agreement that he could use the bus on his wedding trip in Europe.
Beep Beep’s first outing was in the Swiss Alps. After the honeymoon, Adair relinquished Beep Beep to his father and subsequently became estranged from the vehicle until 40 years later, when a family friend asked what had become of the bus. They traced the bus to its resting place in the forest.
Carroll restored the bus with the help of mechanic Terry Wolfe. It took one-and-a-half years to complete the project. Carroll notes that parts for this bus are obscure or almost impossible to find. He faced the challenge of repairing original parts instead of replacing them.
“I repaired everything I could,” he says. Other parts he located internationally. Carroll accredits the upholstery to Sky’s Interior Shop, and the paint and body work to Extreme Paint (both of which are located in Fremont). Carroll says, “when we put that last piece in there, it just about brought a tear to your eye to see it.”
Since the complete restoration, the bus has earned first place in the Restored Class at the World of Wheels show in March 2016, and Best in Class and Best in Show in the Omaha VW Club show in June 2016. Adair says that Beep Beep “is symbolic of happiness” and “the free spirit of living.”
Adair says that Beep Beep “went from an ‘I can’ car to an ‘icon’ car.”
*Correction: Due to an editing error, the September/October 2016 print edition incorrectly identified Adair’s wife as deceased.
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