The modern day surf vehicle comes in a variety of surf scoring packages ranging from barely operable to economy class on up to the “high society” roving land yacht. Whatever flavor a surfer chooses (or can afford), there are a few basic necessities a surfer needs in order to operate and maintain a fully functioning surf vehicle. First and foremost there needs to be some space available either inside (preferred) or on the roof via surf racks (lockable) to securely stow and transport their coveted wave riding vehicles. Next, unless you’ve always had an underlying passion to harvest mold spores, the surf vehicle will need to be equipped with a self contained, waterproof Tupperware container to store all those wet, soggy, pee infused wetsuits and rash guards (sick!!). Other “nice to have” options are a changing mat for changing in public, a ding repair/ First Aid kit for mending those rail cracks and mere flesh wounds on the fly, a water jug or portable shower to wash off the funk, a sun visor for the dash to protect your ride from internal 3rd degree burns, and some bumping beats for the pre-surf pump up inspiration. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of choosing a surf vehicle lies in the balancing act between surf practicality vs. everyday luxury (i.e.- what might get readily thrashed by a constant influx of salt, sand, and melted surf wax on those nice leather seats). Keep in mind, a surfers’ vehicle receives more annual accumulation of sand than some ski resorts receive in snow over seasons! Unless you enjoy obsessing about your vehicle or berating you bros about every speck of sand on their feet, you might save yourself a lot of time vacuuming and some friendships by keeping things simple, salty, and surfy.
As usual here at SSL, we couldn’t help but delve deeper into some of the more colorful surf vehicles you might come across in any surf town or feral surf trip excursion. While it would be nearly impossible (and not nearly as fun!) to commemorate every make and model of surf vehicle out there, we have chosen a generalized selection of surf vehicles that we feel add a bit of flavor to the everyday surfing mix. Read on… you just might recognize or drive one of these awesome (…..or not so awesome) surf vehicles yourself!
The Creepy “Chester Molester” Surf Van – If B.A. Barrachus (a.k.a. – “Mr. T”) was still wrecking shit in his A-team van, he’d “pity da fool” that drove this thing! Often parked (emphasis on “Parked!”) near beachside parks or at the end of your street for days, weeks, or even months on end (until the cops get wind), these vehicles are more extend-a-stay surfside accommodation than everyday transportation (think Randy Quaid in “Christmas Vacation”). While The Creepy “Chester Molester” Surf Van” might be on the hotlist for a new vehicular Megan’s Law, here’s one not so creepy surf van we feel can park at the end of our block anytime they want!
The Grom Mobile – The Grom Mobile can take many forms depending on the demographics and income brackets of the parents who give them these hand me down (see “Beater” below) surf vehicles to be…. (Unless of course they happen to be “Trustafarians-In-Training” (TITs) or Silver Spoons – See “Yuppie Ride” below). Within the first week of acquiring their license and scoring their set of “hell on wheels”, The Grom Mobile will be plastered with a fresh coating of “buy my poster” surf stickers representing the various food groups of the surf industry and “counter-culture” establishments. Rolling up to their favorite surf breaks with half the neighborhood in tow, The Grom Mobile is like a roving party boy limo busting mad beats, heart tinged emo chords, pop punk, and any genre of underground music that nobody has ever heard of but will unfortunately now (can you say – “ear rape”?) if they happen to be within a 2-mile radius. The Grom Mobile is a grom’s first taste of freedom from mom and dad and a catalyst for surfing new and far away breaks previously unknown. No longer relegated to bumming rides from older brothers/sisters, friends, and soccer moms, The Grom Mobile provides an all out feeding frenzy of new experiences for the Grom and rightfully so. After all those years of riding a bike back home in the dark, surfboard in tow, wetsuit dripping, and completely spent from surfing all day; the young Grom now claims what is rightfully theirs (a license!!) as they no longer have to feel that shuddering blast of loser denial whilst cars go flying past with heaters on full blast!
The Beater - Feeling like taking a nice leisurely Sunday drive down to Mexico? Looking to transport yourself and as many of your bros as possible into sketchy 3rd world countries lickety split? Do you sometimes fantasize about letting the parking brake go and watching a free fireworks display as your car careens into the ravine? Well then my friend, you are the next contestant on The Beater Car network!! This car comes complete with peeling paint, an oil guzzling addiction, and very questionable reliability (Sound good!!? It’s yours!!). It could keep going like the Energizer Bunny for another 100,000 miles or it might just conk out around the next desolate corner with no help for miles – it’s anybody’s guess really. The Beater as its name implies is “BEAT” but that’s not always such a bad thing when you’re trying not to draw too much attention to yourself. A good option for flying under the radar in foreign countries, getting a tax write-off when you donate it to charity, or for use as a hand me down Grom Mobile.
The Yuppie Ride – If Richie Rich grew up to be a surfer, he’d probably opt for one of these top-of-the-line vehicles and have his butler detail it for him after every surf. Known as the Beamers, Mercedes, Audi’s, Porsche’s, and Range Rovers of the high end car industry; the Yuppie Rides are excellent choices for hitting the town, commuting to work, and entertaining clients, but not so great for mixing salt, sand, boards, wax, and stinky wetsuits with leather and expensive fixtures. In addition, these are not the type of vehicles that you would want to drive into crime ridden countries or leave unattended for long periods of time on the side of the road while surfing. The Yuppie Ride almost always comes equipped with an alarm system that lulls its neighbors to sleep with ear wrenching lullabies at odd hours of the night while effectively deterring absolutely zero would be criminals.
(Ode to Car Alarm – “Dear Car Alarm that goes off for hours on end in the middle of the night. No one is coming to rescue you or calling the police on behalf of your incessant, obnoxious screeching. Please die a timely death like all outdated, worthless technology eventually does. Adieu!!”).
The Woodie – The Woodie is a flashback to an earlier era in surfing history. Known as a “Woodie” because it typically comes coated with a wood veneer on the back 2/3rd’s of the vehicle, the Woodie was the real deal surf mobile back in the days of Gidget and Dora. These are collector cars nowadays and there are even several well established road shows and parades dedicated to these classic surf vehicles. Ask your dad or grandpa – they know! For more on Woodies and their rich surf based history check out this site.
The Compact Cruiser (a.k.a. “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” or “Lil Pepe) – The Compact Cruiser is a lightweight, gas efficient, no frills breed of surf vehicle. Typically taking the form of a small car or hatchback model; they shake, rattle, and roll like a flimsy tin can and you may at times feel like a simple gust of wind could be your final demise. On a positive note, they do get the surfer from Point A to B without breaking the bank (i.e. – Economical = Good). It’s usually necessary to put the boards on the roof with a set of sturdy surf racks to save room (unless of course you enjoy sitting on your bro’s lap as boards prod you in the ass). Some models come with retractable back seats to put boards in through the trunk or there’s always the option of reclining the front passenger seat to tote your board around town like a hot date. Get a room you two!!
The Big Boy Tonka Truck (a.k.a. – “I have a small wee wee”) – Let’s get one thing straight – Monster Truck Rally’s rule!! They air over cars and crush stuff (we like it, carnage is cool!!) But driving a monster truck on a daily basis on municipal roads for work or surf just seems silly. They suck up liquid gold gas quicker than an OC golddiggin’ housewife looking for a divorce without a pre-nup and they’re a bitch to park. What are you trying to prove anyways? (or make up for!!??) It becomes even lamer when you know that the person driving it has never taken their ride off-road or if it even comes equipped with 4-wheel drive to begin with (puulleasee!!). Luckily there is a saving grace in this category as exhibited by Brian Conley’s large n’ in charge “Hurricane Hunter”. Clocking in at a paltry $100,000 investment, this beast has all the bells and whistles a surfer needs to hit the dusty road and score epic uncrowded waves in far away, desolate places (think Baja, Mexico). This ride is 5-Star accommodations on the fly. I wonder if he picks up hitchhikers?
The Surf RV – When most people think of RV’s they get a mental image of senior citizens touring our nation’s network of state parks and recreational areas in oversized mobile homes whilst driving an obnoxiously geriatric speed of 40 mph in the fast lane. All that was thrown out the window the moment “The Drive Thru Surf Series” was released to the modern surfing world. This wanderlust surf series throws several world class surfers into a sweaty, cramped RV for two week road trips through some of the planet’s most ripe, wave rich zones. While we’re pretty certain it would blow to drive this rig on an everyday basis, it could be fun to wreak havoc in on a surf road trip (just don’t ask us to park the beast!).
The Surf Trip Rental Car – These cars take a real beating! Depending on where you travel (or who you travel with) you might just want to save yourself the pain and pony up the extra insurance to foot the impending bill. The Surf Trip Rental Car gets thrashed day in and day out with salt, sand, sweat and body odors from every orifice (think hotboxing full of farts and 3rd World gastrointestinal goodness seasoned with a side of extra humid tropical heat – check please!!). This car screams tourist, gringo, haole, or whatever derogatory word the world has come up with to describe “out of place” and “not local”. Potential mishaps that can occur (hence the insurance) from order of severity are the random flat tire, the entire desecration of the vehicle’s undercarriage due to leviathan sized 3rd world potholes, flipping over of the vehicle whilst driving highly intoxicated on the beach (See Dude Cruise), or the ever popular locking the car only to have the windows busted out and items stolen as a welcoming gift (thanks Costa Rica!).
The “Super Deluxe” 4X4 Surf Van (a.k.a. – Baja Destroyer!!) – If Xzibit had the steez to pimp a surfers’ ride, he would undoubtedly produce a beauty like this! This surf vehicle has it all! Specially customized to accommodate the latest and greatest gadgetry as well as serious 4×4 muscle under the hood, The “Super Deluxe” 4×4 Surf Van is a surfer’s wet dream for wanderlust surf excursions in style!
The VW Bus/ Vanagon – The VW Bus is a classic surf vehicle hailing from the hippidy dippity, “far out” days of the 60’s and 70’s. It along with its updated counterpart – The Vanagon, is synonymous with extended surf treks and camping out by the beach for days or weeks on end to score epic surf (think camping out in Hossegor, France milking the swell). It comes Spicoli pre-approved and is voted most likely to showcase a large selection of earth friendly, politically oriented bumper stickers on its exterior (See “Coexist”, “Grateful Dead”, but probably not this one).
The Surf Scooter – The Surf Scooter is the surfers’ solution for short trips up and down the coast. It is especially helpful during the Summer months for weaving in and out of traffic and for finding an often times non-existent parking spot. Outfitted with a surf rack on the side, the Surf Scooter is a peppy, gas efficient solution for the surfer who likes to air dry on the way home from a surf sesh. To learn more click here.