• Mar 15, 2010

Volkswagen Bus turns 60 – Click above for high-res image gallery

Many automakers will build cars for decades and never create a product that can truly be considered a cultural icon. Few that do produce multiple such models. One of those is Volkswagen.The original Beetle/Bug/Type 1 is recognizable almost anywhere and even by people that know nothing about cars. The Beetle itself spawned another icon in the form of the Type 2 (or Microbus), a vehicle that is celebrating its diamond anniversary in 2010.

Like the original Bug, the Microbus had an air-cooled flat-four cylinder engine hanging off the back of the rear axle. The front seats were moved up over the front axle creating a format that was eventually copied by Ford, Dodge, General Motors and countless Japanese automakers.

Over sixty years, the bus became the ride of choice for surfers, hippies and iconoclasts everywhere. Many surviving examples from the 1960s are still hauling surfboards and Deadheads today. In the 1980s, the third-generation bus morphed into the still-loved but less iconic Vanagon, with emissions standards forcing the adoption of water cooling in 1983. The last of the rear-engined VW vans ceased production in 1992. A tip of the hat to Brooks!

*UPDATED: New photos added and official VW press release available after the jump


[Sources: Volkswagen, Life]

Show full PR text

HAPPY 60TH BIRTHDAY TO THE WORLD'S MOST POPULAR VAN

Production of the Volkswagen Transporter van officially started in March 1950 and during the 60 years since then it has become one of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles' best-selling models globally, the number one imported van in the UK as well as one of the most iconic and popular vans in the world.

With over 10 million produced, the Volkswagen Transporter has evolved through five generations of functional and practical bodystyles, each representing the ultimate multi-purpose vehicle of its time and loved by business and private users alike for transporting goods or people for work or leisure. This unique heritage is the focus of the current 'Evolution of Van' advertising campaign for the new Transporter which was launched in the UK in January.

The first T1 'split-screen' model was powered by a four-cylinder, air-cooled, 1.1-litre petrol engine mounted at the back of the vehicle. It produced 25 PS of power and had a top speed of about 60 mph. By comparison, the new Transporter enjoys the refinement of Volkswagen's latest 2.0-litre, common rail, turbocharged diesel engine, available with power outputs ranging from 84 PS to 180 PS and a top speed of up to 119 mph, plus the latest stability control systems and braking technology that would have sounded like something from a science fiction novel 60 years ago.

Although the design has evolved over the years, the first and the latest Transporter share the same badge on the front and the same design principles of a generous loadspace and an enviable reputation for quality and durability.

Similarly, comparing the latest Volkswagen California with a T1 campervan shows that both make efficient use of the space available to create a vehicle equally suitable for daily trips to work or the shops, as for weekend escapes or continental capers.

Over the years, Volkswagen Transporters have endured challenging round the world trips by enthusiastic travellers, been used as the preferred choice of travel for rock bands since the 1960s to the present day, and been relied upon by many businesses needing a fleet of delivery or passenger carrying vehicles.

The first Transporter was imported into the UK in 1955, and the latest version of the van as well as today's people-carrying and campervan versions, the Caravelle and California, arrived in the UK this January, 55 years later. Full details of the new Transporter, Caravelle and California and the latest finance offers are available by calling 0800 717131 or visiting www.volkswagen.vans.co.uk.


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  • 23 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Restoring a '66 splitscreen type 2 camper bus as we speak.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Ahh, the old days! My family started out with a dark blue '59 Beetle convertible. Later, we exchanged that one for a bright red '67 convertible. Later still, I began building and modifying Bugs. The vans were never my thing but, they sure were popular back then. Talk about the worst car on the road for frontal impact though. Your feet really were right against the front of the vehicle. No surprise that safety legislation killed the van. Still, they are definitely a piece of American history.
      • 4 Years Ago
      No Hurry's 15 minutes of fame.

      My nephew sent me a link to Autoblog. Thats our bus "No Hurry" with the sunset graphics. Our relationship with No Hurry started in 2003 and it has been a pleasure. Fun to drive, fun to work on, fun to own. Chrysler used to tout the phrase "we invented the mini-van". VW bus drivers know they're wrong. Chrysler invented the cup-holder. That is the one the missing the the VW Bus. Thanks for the appreciation.

      -Eric
      • 4 Years Ago
      huzzah for the type 2 !
      I had a '79 Westy for a bit...
      Most fun vehicle I have ever owned.
      Was a mostly beat-up hippie mobile too.
      I drove it back from colorado to upstate NY in about '95.
      hahahaha... I may as well have been driving some super rare ferrari or something.
      People waving all the time and taking pictures and flashing peace signs and coming up to me in rest areas.
      hahahahaa... made it a fun trip actually.
      Which was good because the heat didn't work, the radio didn't work, the tach didn't work...and there was absolutely no way I ever even dared to try out the auxiliary gas fired heater which drew fuel directly off the gas tank.
      hahahahaa
      ahhhh..... good times....
      • 4 Years Ago
      Though not the original, the type 2 is in abundance and still in production in Brazil. My brother sees a lot of them since he is on an LDS mission in Sao Paulo. We have 3 busses, but none of them have engines. The busses in Brazil are water-cooled now because of the emission standards I believe. They also are used as work vans, so not all of them have a clean crisp atmosphere about them. That Microbus concept would have been a good piece of nostalgia, but sfety trumps, though. Maybe the Routan will get a cool counterpart. Just a theory, though.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Stories of Life and Adventure with the VW Bus

      I'm collecting stories for an anthology that I hope to get published soon.

      Although I have about 25 stories so far, some long and some short, I'm still looking for tales of travel adventure; tidbits of daily life with a VW Bus; memories of your first sighting of a Bus; the first Bus you ever owned; weddings and celebrations where VW Buses held a prominent position; stories of Bus enthusiasm passed down from generation to generation--–anything related to the glories (and predicaments) of VW Busing. Photos and artwork are welcome.

      More info at my blog: http://storiesoflifeandadventurewiththevwbus.blogspot.com/
      • 4 Years Ago
      Sixty years of people being stuck behind a vehicle that's unable to get out of its own way going downhill on a greased road.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Mom & Dad got a 66 to haul our family of 8. We had a blast in that thing.
      I got my 76 in 79. Mine had and automatic, AC and no power. Still had a blast. Both of them were blue with white tops. If the one in the picture comes to the US, I could get the top painted white.
      • 4 Years Ago
      We owned a water cooled, rear engine Vanagon and it was Hell on wheels. We gave it the nickname "Hitler's Revenge" for it's insistent attempt at killing our family. A sliding door that never stayed closed, collapsing overhead A/C air duct, new engine and transmission at 38,000 miles, new fuel injectors every 8,000 miles, sudden stalling.... Luckily the Vanagon's interior was spacious and comfortable because we spent a lot of time waiting in the van for a tow truck.
      • 4 Years Ago
      My first car: 1969 VW Type II (stolen)
      Second car: 1971 VW Type II Kombi
      Third Car: 1989 Vanagon GL
      Fourth: 1989 Vanagon Carat (loved the table...)

      My nickname is "The Buslady" for obvious reasons...given to me by a friend of mine back in 1989 when we had our VW gang on Prodigy. Someday I want another Vanagon, a 1991 Orly Blue or a Tornado Red Carat or Wolfs edition.


      • 4 Years Ago
      They should build a retro styled new Microbus.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Great pictures, like the red beetle with the rag top
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