Stovepipe and Groo’s Flashback Bus


Finn “Stovepipe” Pette and the Flashback Bus.

Sal Polcino

Alexandra Duncan, Entertainment Editor

A psychedelic, multi-colored 1969 Volkswagen Kombi Bus called the Flashback Bus has caught the eye of many interested onlookers and Volkswagen lovers.

Hand-painted on the Flashback Bus are countless images of prominent figures and events that cover a wide range of American history and pop culture, not to mention original artwork spanning from the 1940s to the present.

Jimi Hendrix, Richard Nixon, Rosie the Riveter, Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, Big Foot, Superman, Albert Einstein, The Beatles and countless other figureheads that represent whole generations are painted on to the Volkswagen’s sprawling metal canvas.

This unique vehicle has become the prize of a sweepstakes called “The Flashback Bus Giveaway,” organized by its two owners: Finn “Stovepipe” Pette and Damon “Groo” Claussen.

“In a world where so many cars look alike, the Flashback Bus is refreshing,” Claussen said.

The two were offered a large sum of money for the bus by a celebrity whose name cannot be revealed; however, they declined to sell it and instead launched the Flashback Giveaway.

Pette is a student at Glendale College and has completed 126 units.He is currently taking classes to obtain his teaching credentials. Claussen is an alumnus of the college.

Money gained from the sweepstakes will go toward a new Volkswagen.

“We’re going to be scrambling rapidly for a new form of transportation,” Pette said.

With a total of 2,500 tickets in the contest, each ticket brings the buyer one step closer to owning the Flashback Bus. According to Claussen, half of the tickets for the sweepstakes have already been sold.

Abounding in color and nostalgia for many, the Flashback Bus has drawn an international fan base. With no official advertising, Pette and Claussen have sold tickets in Australia, France, Canada, England, Norway, Germany and Sweden. They have also sold tickets in the states of Washington, Hawaii and Alaska.

“The biggest fear is that someone from another country will get it and I’ll never see it again,” Pette said.

The most tickets purchased by an individual for the sweepstakes was 20 tickets, which amounts to $400. Claussen, the driving financial force of the sweepstakes, said he continues to mail out tickets every day.

“We had the hope that an average [person] with $20 has the chance to own a show car,” Pette said.

Childhood friends, Pette and Claussen started a t-shirt business together in 2012, specifically servicing the Volkswagen community through original and unique artwork.

They needed a way to transport their products to and from shows. One day while driving home from a Las Vegas show after selling shirts there, Claussen came across a cream-yellow, red, white and rust-colored 1969 Volkswagen bus parked by a gas station.

After leaving a note and his phone number on the window, Claussen received a call back a month later and purchased the bus for $500.

The bus had come to sit in Pette’s driveway for some time due to Claussen’s lack of storage for the vehicle.

“Pette told me ‘you better get it out of my driveway or I’m going to start painting it like a hippie bus!’” Claussen said. “And then it became its own entity.”

Pette said each image took around four hours to paint.

“You can’t have a bad day in that bus,” Pette said.

Pette is the artistic talent behind The Rusty VW T-shirt designs and countless hand-painted images on the bus. It took Pette a year and a half to paint the bus, including the sides of the bus, the hubcaps and some of the motor.

“I wish there were more sweepstakes like this,” Claussen said. “The odds are in everyone’s favor.”

“You can own my Mona Lisa,” Pette said. “A lot of people think I’m crazy [for giving it away] but the Volkswagen is the people’s car.”

The roof is yet to be finished, but by the time Pette completes the roof, the winner of the bus will be chosen.

“There’s so much of me in this bus,” Pette said. “It’s been my nemesis and my best friend for the past two years. It’s going to be heartbreaking to watch it drive away.”

“I think it’s going to be bittersweet,” Claussen said. “Concluding anything that you’re emotionally connected to is hard.”

The winner of the sweepstakes will be revealed on Facebook and streamed live on

Sweepstakes tickets are available for purchase at For more information on the Claussen and Pette’s Rusty VW company, visit