When it comes to cars, the Volkswagen brand has been one of the most popular brands in the world. Volkswagen company is around for decades and throughout history, it has become an iconic brand.
One of the most famous Volkswagen vehicles is the microbus, which is also known as the Transporter or Volkswagen Type 2. After the Beetle (Type 1), the microbus is the second model that Volkswagen released.
This model’s production began on March 8, 1950, and it became very popular, especially in the United States, as a favorite vehicle for the hippies. Because of this, many people call it the ‘hippie bus’.
Other nicknames for this minibus are Samba, Kombi, Campervan, Splittie (because of the split windshield), Combi (combined-use vehicle), and Bulli (the nickname that people in Germany gave it).
The microbus’s design was very simple and efficient. Ben Pon is the person who has taken the credit for the design. He is a Dutch businessman who imported Volkswagen vehicles in 1947.
The idea for the microbus came to him from viewing the factory’s utilitarian work trucklets. Just like the Beetle, these trucks also had the engines placed on the back.
Pon released his creativity on a paper and sketched the trucklets, but in a version of a van. Even though the sketches weren’t a big deal, the company’s executives saw the potential of them. They tweaked the sketches and made a perfect design for the creation of the microbus.
Whenever we think about the microbus, we all have the same picture in our heads. However, there are different models of the bus that exist. All of these models have efficiency and simplicity that Volkswagen is known for in common.
First Generation Model
The first-generation model of the microbus was manufactured for 18 years. For the time of manufacturing, the vehicle had remarkable features. It had a 44-horsepower engine and a split windshield layout. Additionally, you could remove the middle and rear seats to add more space to the vehicle. At the time, it was an epitome of efficiency.
Second Generation Model
The generation that came after that was the second-generation. Compared to the first-generation, it had a few adjustments made. The split windshield was replaced by a wrap-around window. Additionally, the engine was upgraded to a stronger engine with 65 horsepower.
Third Generation Model
In the 80s, Volkswagen decided to make other changes to the model and it’s known as the third-generation model or Vanagons. Because of the high tariffs, the sale and production of this model were short-lived in the US.
However, in Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, and Mexico, the production continued. From 2009, Brazil was the only one that was manufacturing the van. Compared to the other models, the Vanagon had water-cooled engines and additional adjustments to the design of the vehicle.
The most popular thing about the Type 2 minibusses are the art canvases that people painted on them. Different murals were painted on the vehicles by their owners. The owners either used bright colors to give the vehicle a distinct look or added some kind of art on them. Some owners even replaced the Volkswagen logo with the peace symbol.
Type 2 minibus owners even painted the Volkswagen beetle on it. The paintings of the Beetle fit perfectly to the bus. You can see clearly how the Type 2 Volkswagen was created from the Type 1 Beetle.
These amazing arts weren’t just made by the owners of the vehicle. Phil Patton, an author, added some statements to his book ‘Bug: The Strange Mutations of the World’s Most Famous Automobile’. He stated that Volkswagen even aired ads that showed drawings of the front of the bus with a tear streaming down in. This advertisement was after the death of Jerry Garcia, Grateful Dead musician, in 1995.
Back in 2013, Volkswagen announced that they’re ending the production of the microbus. The main reason for ending the production was due to new environmental legislation. The legislation did not support the manufacture of rear-engine vehicles.
Aside from stopping the production, no other car company can compare to the Volkswagen minibus because it ran for over six decades.
Regardless, the Volkswagen microbus still holds some sentimental value to the manufacturers and the masses who appreciate the old-fashioned small bus.
Several efforts to revive the model were done by the company, however, none of the efforts lasted. At the moment, Volkswagen is playing around with the idea to transform the Volkswagen Type 2 bus in an electrified vehicle. They plan on working with Electric Vehicle Conversion Specialist, EV West, to finish the project.
The main reason they chose the company is because of “their passion for classic-car culture and commitment to renewable energy” made them the perfect selection for the project, as was stated by Mathew Renna.
Michael Bream, the CEO and founder of EV West, made a statement saying “Merging a historic model from an iconic brand with the technology of today, is just one of many ways that we can step closer to a more sustainable future while continuing to enjoy our rich automotive heritage.”
Most of the designs will be left unchanged and if they’re able to achieve their project, it will be a great milestone.