Who's On eBay: Pete Townshend's Magic Bus

Want to own a piece of rock 'n' roll history? If you'd been a quick eBay bidder, you could have picked up a VW camper owned by Pete Townshend, leader of The Who.

Alexander Wolfe, Contributor

March 2, 2008

3 Min Read

Want to own a piece of rock 'n' roll history? If you'd been a quick eBay bidder, you could have picked up a VW camper owned by Pete Townshend, leader of The Who.Turns out his current paramour, musician Rachel Fuller, put the bus up for auction last week on eBay U.K. Fuller is an interesting character herself. Having started out as a classical musician, she hooked up with Townshend a decade ago and also makes her own CDs. On her MySpace page, she highlights her recent recordings, including a song called "It's a m***f***er." (Opening line: "It's a m****f***er, being here without you.")

As for Townshend, Internet watchers will recall that he was most recently prominently in the news in 2003, when he had a run-in with British authorities for accessing a pedophile Web site. (Townshend said he was looking at the site as research for his campaign against child pornography.)

Anyway, when I saw the VM camper listing on eBay on Friday, it had been bid up to ₤16,000. (That's more than $30,000, to us Yanks.) Today (Sunday), though, the listing is closed, with the message, "The seller ended this listing early because the item is no longer available for sale."

What's going on here? Sounds like somebody with really big bucks snapped it up, or else Fuller pulled it off the market because she realized it's appreciated a whole lot in the past week. I first heard about this auction on Ken Dashow's show on New York classic rock station Q104.3, so presumably the news has perked up more ears than just mine.

State-of-mind-wise, perhaps this piece of internally combustible memorabilia is less marginally connected to The Who than I originally thought. I formed that opinion based on Fuller's eBay item description, which read in part: "Many a sausage sandwich has been cooked and eaten by Pete in this camper. We will be sad to see it go. It has been soooo much fun."

Really, drugs in rock I can accept, but I draw the line at sausage sandwiches. Yuk; not to mention the cholesterol.

So the final piece of information, which makes the whole thing even more of a hoot, is this news item from last October from the Ridelust blog. It reports that Volkswagen has been considering putting out a modernized version of the VW Camper, and that it was planning to use The Who's "Magic Bus" for the marketing campaign. (See, I managed to work my headline into the post.)

Quoth Ridelust: "Pete Townshend, the guitarist for The Who, expressed his own affections for the Camper by admitting that he himself has one rotting away in his garage."

Rotting away? Not hardly, according to Ms. Fuller's pictures. But you be the judge:

Pete Townshend's VW Camper was up for sale on eBay U.K. (Click picture to enlarge, and to see a second photo.)

P.S. The automotively minded will recall that the VW camper/minibus was reintroduced in the United States around 1979, but it was a bust, mainly because it was so underpowered.

P.P.S. Rock memorabilia pops up periodically on the Web auction powerhouse. See my post about Exene Cervenka's bass, "EBay Is Retirement Plan Of Last Resort For Aging Rockers."

Also, complaints about eBay, in " EBay's Feedback Changes Are Bad News For Buyers."

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About the Author(s)

Alexander Wolfe


Alexander Wolfe is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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