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Lin Ottinger's Utah VW Bus Tours

Posted on 17 June 2016

*Please note before reading. Lin is in no way interested in selling any of his collection. Many folks have offered crazy money for it, but he refuses. Please don't bother him about his buses. Just go buy some rocks from him. 

I grew up in Western Colorado near the Utah border. Often we would take my dad's 71 Ford F250 way way back on the desert dirt roads. He carried tools and the truck had an auxiliary gas tank for those long treks. Sometimes we would pass through Moab, the nearest town of any size in Utah. One of the town's land marks was Lin Ottinger's Rock Shop, with its bright yellow sign and piles of interesting junk out front. Another place of note was TomTom's Volkswagen, a junkyard that had a legendary collection of pre 1967 VW's, pretty much all of which were sold off recently after Tom passed away. One of Tom's friends, a tough old hippy in a battered 1957 beetle he had traded a baggie of cocaine and $200 for in the 70's, told me of a legendary stash of buses owned by Lin Ottinger, the rock shop man.

Lin is a fixture of Moab. From the 60's to 80's he was one of the only ways folks could see deep into Arches and Canyon Lands National Parks. He had a fleet of pre 1967 VW Deluxe Buses, now the most desirable model. He outfitted his buses for rough roads to go deep into the desert, giving folks a view of eastern Utah that they otherwise wouldn't be able to. Each buses rear corners were cut out to ad clearance, the rear bumper was removed, and a snorkel was added for crossing swollen streams during flash rain storms. They were also carried spares and tools for digging them out of ruts. 

When Lin retired from the tour business in the 80's, he squirreled his fleet of 8 buses away in a big warehouse where he keeps all his treasures, from turn of the century cars to collectable bottles of soda. A few years ago John Jones, owner of renowned Volkswagen restoration shop Kustom Coach Werks, restored a badly damaged (Lin rolled it) pre 1955 bus that Lin had sold to TomTom's Junkyard many years ago. John finally talked Lin into showing him his collection, then offered to get one of his buses back on the road in trade for a tour of the state parks. Lin obliged, so Jones took one of his buses and did a mechanical restoration, leaving the original modifications and paint in tact. Below are some amazing photos of the buses from the fleet, followed by one of Lin with his refreshed bus.

More information and photos at kustomcoachwerks.com

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