The Bug Van was the name given to the Dodge Ram Van used by Stan Switek and Larry Zito for their surveillance duties on Miami Vice. Over the course of the series, several Dodge vans assumed this role.
Initially, the Bug Van was adorned with an elaborate, comical giant flying ant sculpture on its roof (complete with flapping wings), in line with the more light-hearted nature of Switek and Zito in early episodes. It was also labelled with logos for the fictitious Bug Busters company, designed to give the surveillance van the appearance of being owned by a pest control business, thereby helping it "hide in plain sight" whilst on operations.
For the start of season 3, the van's appearance was dramatically scaled back, with the removal of the roof ornament and the custom paint scheme and logos. The new, plain van was far more in line with the dark tone the show had adopted, and fit better with the more serious portrayals of Switek and Zito from this point onwards. After Zito's death in "Down for the Count (Part I)", Switek took to reading magic trick books when he was on operations in the Bug Van, as his partner was never replaced on the show.
The van usually stayed at a distance from the main action owing to its nature as a surveillance vehicle. However, it did occasionally become more actively involved, most notably when it was stolen by Izzy Moreno in "Bought and Paid For"; Switek and Zito soon recovered it, and used the threat of prosecution for its theft as just another means of coaxing valuable information out of Izzy.
The first Dodge Ram Van used was painted white with simple purple "Bug Busters" lettering down the side and a realistically painted giant flying ant on the roof. This van was either replaced or repainted for season 2, by which time it was green, with a far more elaborate paint scheme, consisting of a horde of giant black termites swarming over its bodywork. The flying ant roof sculpture was also repainted, this time in a more cartoonish green and black, matching the colors on the rest of the van.
The van retained this base green color for the rest of the series, although, as previously stated, the flying ant and custom paint scheme were removed at the start of season 3, leaving the van just a plain green and much more inconspicuous.
- Originally, the name "Bug Van" was a play on the fact the van was outwardly a pest control vehicle with a giant bug on the roof, and the fact that it was also used for electronic surveillance (often called "bugging"). However, when the van was stripped of its decorations in season 3 this pun was lost -- perhaps another indicator of how the show was becoming more serious.
- The alias Switek uses whilst gambling throughout season 5, "The Bug", is no doubt inspired by the Bug Van and his role as a surveillance expert.