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Gone in the U.S. for 34 years, it is only now being discontinued in South America

It's been known as the Microbus. The Minibus. The Transporter Kombi. The Volkswagen Type 2. Owners of the much loved van also have their own names for a van that was an icon for a generation in the U.S. Whatever you want to call it, the last one is rolling off the assembly line in Brazil this month, marking the end of an era and passage of history.

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If there's any one vehicle that can realistically challenge the Beetle in the annals of historic Volkswagens, it's the Transporter. More often referred to as the Microbus or just the Bus, the real original minivan first saw the light of day in 1950 as the Type 2 (the Beetle, naturally, was the Type 1).

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2001 Volkswagen Microbus Concept - click for a hi-res image gallery

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It's hard to remember what time Volkswagen's press conference at the 2001 Detroit auto show actually started, but it should have been scheduled for 4:20. That was the year that VW teased the flower power generation with a new version of its iconic "Bus." But this one wasn't so much a hippie RV than it was a stylish alternative to the common minivan.

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What do the 1980 Chevy Monza and the 1973 VW Microbus have in common? They are among Car Talk hosts Tom and Ray Magliozzi's Top 10 Scariest Cars list. Of the Monza they say, " Whenever one of these beauties reared its ugly grille in front of the garage, every mechanic with more than six weeks' experience would go running for the men's room and lock the door." Another car on the list, the 1987 Ford Festiva, gets this derision from the brothers: "We once got in trouble for saying this car came rig

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