The Volkswagen bus, or rather Transporter, is one of the first civilian minibusses produced by German Volkswagen since 1950. At the end of the 60s and the beginning of the 70s, it became the image of an entire era and a spirit of the hippie movement.
Source: Daily Car News
The history of the Volkswagen Transporter is the story of the formation of the minivan class in its classical sense. After the VW Beetle, the bosses of the German company decided to expand the model range with a practical car for company trips. Later, this car became the basis for a large number of body modifications (including trucks). But first things first.
In the 50s, the Federal Republic of Germany experienced a period of dawn. New enterprises appeared, and existing ones expanded. On the wave of success, Volkswagen also expanded its production capacity, releasing the second “people’s car” Bulli (Bull). Subsequently, the car was called Transporter or T1. The minivan was very simple, yet with the potential to conquer the whole world. When the mass production of the passenger Beetle was well managed, Volkswagen concentrated the attention of its engineers on the development of the second car in the lineup.
Source: The Branson Auction
The idea of creating the first minivan belongs to the Dutch car dealer Ben Pon, who, during a business visit to the Volkswagen plant immediately began to develop the idea that it would be nice to start producing small and practical trucks. Fortunately, Ben was not alone in his dreams: the Bavarian Gustav Mayer devoted his whole life to minivans and had talent from God. He started working at the Volkswagen plant in 1949, and by this time, rose to the position of chief designer in the Volkswagen cargo department. The coworkers embodied their dreams very quickly. From that moment on, all new Transporter modifications passed through Mayer’s hands. Thus, the bus design impressed the company’s top management and was approved by VW CEO Heinrich Nordhoff. In 1950 the first T1s were released.
In 1967, the successor to the T1 was launched – still the same inexpensive, but even more powerful and roomy bus (1967-1979). Another production branch was established in Brazil, and the new German minibus began to arrive en masse from the factory in Hannover and to the United States. Volkswagen’s marketing approach to the T2 line was about the same as it was with the “beetle” – it was simple in style and the most useful transport for home, work, and picnic trips. In the United States, it quickly won the hearts and the minds of thousands as a cost-effective family wagon, to travel and have fun. The T2 was inexpensive and simply arranged so that it was possible to repair it even in the field. Plus, it was easy to customize. The Americans quickly equipped the “transporters” with beds, sinks, and all sorts of decor for long trips around the country. Volkswagen took this into account and soon began to produce special kits for camping cars.
The 70s, in particular 1973, was marked by the first automatic transmission. In 1974, VW improved the bus, the engine of which reached 1800 cc. Design changes were also made: the fuel filler neck was no longer hidden behind the door as in previous versions but was installed flush in the side of the van. The car has a reinforced rear suspension and a dual-circuit brake system and got a top speed of over 100 km/h, and there were more modifications to its design.
Gradually, all T2 acquired a cult status among marginalized groups. Their quirky design appealed to the local hippies so much that the minibus turned into a convenient vehicle to travel, becoming a real symbol of the counterculture. The hippie movement, filled with the spirit of rebellion and rejection of consumerism and the militarism pursued by the American authorities, became the golden age for the Volkswagen bus. Musicians, artists, writers, surfers, and other adventurers decorated mini buses with flowers and peace signs and hit the highways and the road, sometimes not knowing what lay ahead of them.
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