Everyone has an attachment to their first car, a certain nostalgia that makes them want to relive every memory from those years. For comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias, success has allowed him to turn that passion for the VW Bus into something close to an obsession.
Ten years ago, the comedian decided to go back in time and purchase a 1968 Volkswagen Transporter, his first car at age 17. The project of finding and refurbishing the Bus quickly turned Iglesias into a collector. Today, the comedian owns more than 30 Volkswagen Bus models and has even built his own private Volkswagen museum.
“Every time I do something, it’s in excess,” says Iglesias “I don’t do drugs, I don’t drink, I really don’t have any bad habits. So, instead I decided to do this. Every time I get a new item for my collection, I feel like a kid with a big new shiny toy. Right now, I just got a 1963 Bus and I’m already in love with it.”
The new addition to his collection is one of the 32 Bus models in his private museum, which has been built to resemble the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg, Germany, with of course, a “Fluffy” original twist. Across the space, there is Volkswagen artwork, three rare VW Beetle models from 1950, 1956 and 1958, and even a set of matching fish tanks made from two halves of a 1967 VW Bus.
“Every piece is a VW classic that came from Germany or the United States, with the exception of the fish tanks which are actually built from a 1967 VW Bus from Brazil,” he says.
His collection is worth more than $3 million and includes rare finds such as a 15-window 1963 Bus and a 1952 Barndoor Bus. Iglesias calls them his “metal babies,” and works closely with a team of experts to restore his finds and keep them in running order. While he drives most of them on a regular basis, the trips are often brief.
“I take a lot of care of my collection. You have to figure each one of these is like driving a luxury car with a really bad alarm system,” he says. “You can pick the locks with a toothpick and start the engine with a screwdriver; when you have something that valuable, you have to take care of it.”
And despite its size, the Fluffy bus depot has room to grow. “My museum right now is about eight cars away from being cool,” he says.
“You always have that attachment to your first car.”