Microbus's expanding roof idea
September 23, 2005 2:27 PM   Subscribe

Remember the VW Microbus from 70's? I have question about the expanding roof...

Is the expanding roof of that microbus patented?
Or is it something that others could re-create for mass production version without patent infrigement? Don't have to be mechanically same... but the idea of expanding roof for RV or something...
posted by curiousleo to Technology (10 answers total)
Responding without any clue as to actual facts, but as someone who drives said hippy bus, I don't think the idea itself is patentable. Possibly there's something in the mechanics that was patent at the time, but surely a patent from the 70s would be expired by now.
posted by anadem at 3:04 PM on September 23, 2005

As an ex-multiple bus owner and enthusiast, I know that there were several companies that did pop-tops for VW. Westphalia and Devon back in the day, and currently Winnebago. All do pop-tops, so I think the idea is fair game...

Then again though, the patent may have been liscensed to all these companies.
posted by sourwookie at 3:53 PM on September 23, 2005

There are a number of current applications of a pop-up top in the RV world. I've seen the slide-in campers for pickup beds with pop-up tops, as well as conversion vans with a pop-up roof. Any RV magazine will likely have ads picturing them. Do a web search for "pop-up camper" and you'll see many hits.
posted by Tubes at 4:26 PM on September 23, 2005

Yup. Not a new idea. But judging by the history, not an exceptionally large or stable market.

Most people who camp enough to spend the money on such a thing are going to want a full-size camper.

Note also the brief life of the Pontiac Aztek.
posted by dhartung at 4:45 PM on September 23, 2005

IANAPL, but a utility patent expires 20 years from filing.
posted by musicinmybrain at 5:14 PM on September 23, 2005

Dhartung: Did the Aztek have some kind of pop top? I had no idea. And what Sourwookie said--there were multiple companies back then that made different poptop configurations for the VW bus, Westphalia was just one, so there probably isn't a patent on the idea.

Why do you ask? Do you have a project in mind?
posted by LarryC at 6:01 PM on September 23, 2005

Do a google image search for "dorm mobile" and "westphalia" - those were two different companies that did the aftermarket conversion. There were others as I recall but I cannot remember their names. From what I do remember though, Westies popped up either straight up or only the front/back up with the other side staying down. The dorm mobiles popped up from the right or the left side with the alternate side staying down.
posted by pwb503 at 6:49 PM on September 23, 2005

Response by poster: No project particular...
But when I saw latest disasters in New Orleans, etc... RV business came to my mind...
posted by curiousleo at 9:12 PM on September 23, 2005

My Westy has jets.
posted by buzzman at 10:22 PM on September 23, 2005

pwb503, I think that's dormobile (at least according to the Matchbox sitting on the desk in front of me). And this. --cordially, a '78 Westphalia owner.
posted by Dick Paris at 8:35 AM on September 24, 2005

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