Today In History: VW Bus Goes Into Production
The Volkswagen Bus is one of the most iconic cars ever designed, on par with the legendary VW Bug for familiarity and cultural significance. The bus is properly known as the Volkswagen Type 2, also known as the Transporter, Kombi, Camper or Microbus.
The bus was designed by the German auto firm Volkswagen and first put into production on this day in 1950. The forward control panel van was VW’s second car design, after the Volkswagen Type 1, or “Beetle.”
The Type 2 was one of the very first passenger vans manufactured for the public market. Its popularity created demand for multiple competitors, including the Dodge A100, the Chevy Corvair 95 Corvan and the Ford Econoline in America, as well as multiple competitors in the European and Japanese markets.
The Type 2 is considered to be primarily the work of Dutch Volkswagen importer Ben Pon. After a tour of Wolfsburg, Pon, originally intending to import Type 1’s, drew a rough sketch of an alternative bus-like design on April 23, 1947. It was the starting point for the design that would later become the Type 2.
In the United States, the VW Bus is typically associated with 1960s counterculture. They have been out of production since December 31, 2013, when the Brazilian factory that was producing them was constrained by new safety regulations.
There is still a vibrant niche economy of VW Bus fanatics, who restore old buses. They are still a popular option for caravaners, commonly featured in travel videos and the first choice for many people who live a mobile lifestyle. There just isn’t another vehicle that scratches that same nostalgic itch.