John Muir (1918–1977) was an aerospace engineer who worked for Lockheed, who "dropped out," 1960s-style, to become a long-haired car mechanic with a garage in Taos, New Mexico, specializing in maintenance and repair of Volkswagens. He is a descendant of naturalist John Muir.
In 1969, Muir collaborated with cartoonist Peter Aschwanden to create the definitive manual for Volkswagen owners entitled How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive; A Manual of Step-By-Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot. Entirely hand-lettered with intricate hand-drawn illustrations, Muir's self-published edition sold more than two million copies to become one of the most successful self-published books in history, while its wry subtitle preceded (and likely inspired) the unending flow of "for Dummies" books from IDG Publishing, and other "idiot's guide to..." books. Presently, the 19th Edition, with updated material by Tosh Gregg, remains widely available.
Although first published at the end of the 1960s, the Volkswagen was an iconic 1960s vehicle, and in retrospect this book is iconic of hippies' funky do-it-yourself, make-do culture.