The first Volkswagen Type 2, later named the Transporter, rolled off the assembly line


Saturday 12th November 1949

The first Volkswagen Type 2, later named the Transporter, rolled off the assembly line. Only two models were offered: the Kombi (with two side windows and middle and rear seats that were easily removable by one person), and the Commercial. The Microbus was added in May 1950, joined by the Deluxe Microbus in June 1951. In all 9,541 Type 2s were produced in their first year of production. An ambulance model was added in December 1951 which repositioned the fuel tank in front of the transaxle, put the spare tire behind the front seat, and added a “tailgate”-style rear door.These features became standard on the Type 2 from 1955 to 1967. 11,805 Type 2s were built in the 1951 model year.These were joined by a single-cab pickup in August 1952, and it changed the least of the Type 2s until all were heavily modified in 1968. Unlike other rear engine Volkswagens, which evolved constantly over time but never saw the introduction of all-new models, the Transporter not only evolved, but was completely revised periodically with variations retrospectively referred to as versions “T1” to “T5” (a nomenclature only invented after the introduction of the front-drive T4 which replaced the T25). However, only generations T1 to T3 (or T25 as it is still called in Ireland and Great Britain) can be seen as directly related to the Beetle (see below for details)[citation needed]. The Type 2, along with the 1947 Citroën H Van, are among the first ‘forward control’ vans in which the driver was placed above the front roadwheels. They started a trend in Europe, where the 1952 GM Bedford CA, 1958 RAF-977, 1959 Renault Estafette, 1960 BMC Morris J4, and 1960 Commer FC also used the concept. In the United States, the Corvair-based Chevrolet Corvan cargo van and Greenbrier passenger van went so far as to copy the Type 2’s rear-engine layout, using the Corvair’s horizontally opposed, air-cooled engine for power. Except for the Greenbrier and various 1950s–70s Fiat minivans, the Type 2 remained unique in being rear-engined. This was a disadvantage for the early “barndoor” Panel Vans, which could not easily be loaded from the rear because the engine cover intruded on interior space, but generally advantageous in traction and interior noise. Like the Beetle, the van has received numerous nicknames worldwide, including the “microbus”, “minibus”, and, because of its popularity during the counterculture movement of the 1960s, Hippie van/wagon, and still remains iconic for many hippies today. Brazil contained the last factory in the world that produced the T2. Production in Brazil ceased on December 31, 2013, due to the introduction of more stringent safety regulations in the country. This marks the end of an era with the rear-engine Volkswagens manufactured (after the 2002 termination of its T3 successor in South Africa), which originated in 1935 with their Type 1 prototypes.


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