Surfers’ transportation of choice

I’ll address the vehicle to the left up front. It was built by Jay Nelson.

I love it.

The front windshield by itself won me over. The singlefin on top pushed it into a another category.

Looking at this vehicle made me think of the choices surfers make regarding their transportation. Another piece, best surf vehicles of all time, made me want to… create some kind of silly infographic to make sense of it all.

Contrary to popular opinion (and pop culture) I don’t know a single surfer who drives a VW microbus. As much as we might love to have a microbus, they have become so highly collectable that they are essentially out of the reach for the common surfer.

As I thought about surfers vehicles it occurred to me that there isn’t a single vehicle of choice for surfers. We’re all over the map. Also, this graphic definitely has a Southern California bent to it.

Here is my take.

a. Puritans. The purest surfer walks to the beach and bodysurfs. Since that’s not easy to do (cost of housing is high close to the beach) and not every wave is suitable for bodysurfing…this group is tiny. Still, in my mind these are the true greenies.

b. Greenies. The truth is that this group really isn’t that green but they’ve got a Prius so they perceive themselves as green. Being the early adopters (they’ll be the first to jump to full-electric cars) they also dabble in experimental shapes… and probably have an alaia in the garage. Board of choice is a sub-six foot quad (with a five fin box setup of course).

c. Professionals. In the old days this group was called yuppies, by the people who eventually became yuppies themselves. They drive German sedans, surf mostly tri-fin shortboards and think fishes are somehow cheating. If fishes aren’t cheating this groups sees them as lame nonetheless. They own more than three suits.

d. Workers. Contractors, teachers and the like. They live simple lives. They drive simple trucks. They surf simple, proven shapes. They haven’t bought a board in the last twelve months. This group, perhaps after the Purists, are perhaps the most “true” surfers. All these things said, they tend to be a tad older and noticeably grumpier.

e. $100+ fill-ups. There is a distinct group who drive the largest vehicles available to consumers. They tend to ride larger, longer boards. This group might also be dubeed “most-likely-to SUP.” Due to gas station credit card cut off restrictions (stop pumps at $75 or $100) many times they have to go to two stations to actually fill their trucks.



7 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Matey,

    Where do guys who love sub 6 tri fins and quads and drive TDI sport wagons fit into the infographic?

    • jmoriarty,

      I’ve consulted my flowchart. The answer is they fit in one click east of the Prius and two clicks west of the German-sedan-driving Professionals.

      • Michael,

        What if your VW wagon T DI runs on 100% recycled video oil, and your quad is an asym by Donny Brink… Do you get to be one click west of the Prius ??

  2. Christopher,

    Don’t know a single surfer that drives a VW bus? At least 1 out of 10 of my (SF bay) surfing friends drives one. Check out The California Surf Project book for illustrative purposes. Love the site BTW, although I don’t fit into the infographic. I drive a ’63 Ford Falcon sedan, 1984 Mercedes 300D, and a VW Pass Wagon and they are filled with single fins, quads, a hemmy, a mini simmons, and alaias.

  3. Leif,

    I don’t really fit in here, due to my age i can’t drive (Take the bus), or get rides to the beach. And ride mostly bonzers, finless boards and 5 finners.

  4. I bought my VW Westy on eBay about 7 years ago for $4500 with the intention of restoring her. But I used it so much surfing that I couldn’t be without it for months at a time. I just left on a road trip up PCH in it. Surfs been crap so far but it’s been a great adventure. Hoping to make it to Tofino. You can follow the trip on my blog at only

  5. Yapo,

    Proud moment reading your article Jim!!!

    I drive a hand-me-down ’99 Ford Ranger truck with 138,000+ miles and it serves as my catering truck AND surf sessh vehicle. Wax, sunscreen and, and fill my pocket nets in the cab while extra napkins and bundles of utensils are stored under stuff on the floor behind the seats.

    Yeadude!!! Yerrrr Great!!!


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