On a cloudy Wednesday morning in Berkeley, an array of vibrant paint jobs offer a kaleidoscopic contrast to the long stretch of gray pavement on Adeline Street. When I spot the line of vintage VW buses, I know I’m in the right place: Buslab, a 19-year-old auto repair and used parts shop that specializes in what has become one of the most popular modes of transportation in the Bay Area.
A highlighter yellow bus with a matte, vinyl-wrapped body is parked in front of a beige Vanagon with a plaid-patterned interior and bright orange wheels splattered with mud. The trunk is practically overflowing with camping gear, and a hand-painted Route 66 ashtray rests on the dash. Next to it, a grasshopper green bus with a wooden cabinet setup inside has a string of blue beads hanging from the rearview mirror, while a white van with yellow, red and orange stripes has a knit blanket with a zig-zag print strewn over the fold-out bed that looks like it’s straight out of the basement from “That ’70s Show.” At least 30 other buses are snugly arranged in the nearby yard, waiting for repairs.