Guy Malpica was born in Chicago but moved with his family at the age of 5 to sunny Puerto Rico. There in the tropics, he grew to embrace the strong culture of family, balmy weather and his favorite pastime, surfing.
Uncles and friends owned VW buses and Guy routinely would jump in with five or six other relatives, and their boards, for long days out on the waves.
Guy, who now lives in Bensenville, moved back to Illinois in 1984 and for years sought to bring a tangible piece of those memories back with him. In 2014, he located the perfect icon to fulfill that wish: a classic VW bus.
"I wanted a vehicle to enjoy with my whole family and one that would represent me as a retired surfer," Guy says. "I wanted to fix it in my style."
He found a groovy red and white 1967 example in San Francisco and knew it was the right one. After getting it home, Guy wasted no time doing all his desired custom work. While he wanted a distinct style, he also wanted substance, so he dug into the Volkswagen's history, researching and tracing its roots back several owners. Guy is the bus' fourth owner but he located and talked to its second owner, Mike.
"He told me the bus had been bought new in Indiana," Guy says. "It was (originally) used at a senior citizens center to move their guests around."
Mike bought the bus from the center in the late 1980s and completed its first overhaul. Mike then sold it to a third owner out on the West Coast, where the VW eventually landed in Guy's hands.
Since then, Guy has added such items as Wilwood disc brakes and a wooden roof rack up top, which is just perfect for hauling Guy's short boards. He also painted the bumpers to match the body color. The bus features Porsche wheels and Guy plans to add a Porsche engine this winter to give his bus more "oomph."
Inside, the cabin has been fully redone and features loads of room for Guy's most regular passengers: his two daughters, Gianna and Diyanara. Together with Dyana, their mom and Guy's wife, the family will motor all over the suburbs.
"Anytime we need to go somewhere, my girls will always ask to take the 'red bus,' " Guy says. "They love it."
Whether the family is cruising to Lake Geneva or through downtown Chicago, Guy reports the reactions are all the same.
"It's always a hit," he says. "People say hello, honk their horns and wave. The thing I like the most is the smiles."
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