The 20th century was marked by numerous changes. When it comes to vehicles, the Volkswagen Beetle was definitely the symbol of the century. Since its creation, The Volkswagen has become an honored brand that is valued until present day.
Yet, many are simply in love with the company’s second-ever creation- the rebellious microbus! It offered a slow, but safe experience for both, the drivers and the passengers, as well as an opportunity for them to enjoy the scenery!
The official production of The Volkswagen microbus, also known as the Volkswagen Type 2, and officially named the Transporter, began on March 8, 1950.
It was introduced in the U.S. as a competition to other vans sold through the States at the time, like the Ford Econoline, the Dodge A100, and the Chevrolet Corvair 95 Corvan.
It was very space-efficient, and passengers versions could carry up to 9 people, on three rows of bench seats.
Its convenient design made it popular among hippies, so it eventually became known as the “hippie bus.” According to McKeel Hagerty, classic car market expert and the CEO of Hagerty Insurance, the hippies fell in love with it because “it was cheap to maintain, easy to work on, and big enough to live in.”
This vehicle inspired owners to paint various colorful murals on it, and they often replaced the Volkswagen logo on the front with a peace symbol. Just like the Beetle, it was a symbol of liberty and unconventionality for a whole generation of Americans.
It has numerous other nicknames as well, like Samba, Kombi, Campervan, Bulli, and Splittie, and later the Vanagon and EuroVan.
It’s simple, but efficient, design was a handiwork of Dutch businessman Ben Pon, a Volkswagen importer in 1947. He spotted utilitarian work trucklets around the factory, with their engines placed at the rear, so he sketched the idea of their van version on paper.
The company’s executives saw the potential in the idea, and soon, the microbus was created. Some reports indicate that in the first year of mass production, the company produced about 10,000 of the first generation of Volkswagen Type 2, the Model T1.
Stewart Reed, chair of the Transportation Design Department at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, says:
“If you think of the 1950s, big American cars with bold grill statements were everywhere. When you encountered a microbus with a full painted face, two-tone trim and a big VW badge—that was something completely different coming at you on the street.”
The bus has been manufactured in several models over the years.
The first generation ran for about 18 years, as the original design survived until 1967. It had a split windshield layout, a 44-horsepower engine, and removable middle and rear seats.
The next generation involved several adjustments, and the engine was upgraded to 65 horsepower, while the split windshield was replaced with a wrap-around window.
The 80s saw the production of Vanagons, the third generation of these buses, equipped with water-cooled engines, and several adjustments in the design. While their high tariffs made their production and sale in the U.S. short-lived, these buses were still produced in Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Australia.
Due to the environmental legislation that no longer supported the building of rear-engine vehicles, Volkswagen announced the end of the production of the microbus in 2013.
Yet, the model is still among the favorite ones of the masses. Therefore, the company started investigating possible ways to revive it.
Now, it intends to develop the concept of an electrified Volkswagen Type 2 bus, whose design will be mostly the same, to our pleasure!
The 2022 Volkswagen Microbus commemorates the iconic Type 2 Microbus, and Volkswagen’s U.S. boss, Johan de Nysschen, confirmed that it will be go into production in 2022 and will be assembled in Germany, but it will be sold all around the globe, including North America!
We are eagerly waiting for this new design of our favorite, timeless classic!