This week, VW released teaser images of the I.D. Buzz. Though labelled with a different name, the images effectively showed off what was basically just a re-Imagineering of an old classic. With self-driving possibilities and fully electric, it’s somewhat reassuring to know the iconic camper van, such a familiar sight on our roads for so many years, is around to stay for at least another couple of generations in its smart new form. Today we begin a two-part look back at the history of the car that the enthusiasts truly took to their hearts.
The birth of the VW Type II bus – Dutch importer Ben Pon noticed that the motorised carts that Volkswagen used to ferry parts around their car plant in Wolfsburg, Germany were effectively VW Beetles, stripped down to just the chassis and running gear.
Pon put pen to paper and came up with this little sketch on the 23rd April.
It resembled a Beetle based van, or a box on wheels.
Heinz Nordhoff embraced Pon’s idea when he became CEO of VW in 1949. That same year saw the first VW van make its debut at the Geneva Motor Show.
The VW Camper officially went into production on the 8th March, 1950. At first, they were able to make just ten vehicles a day. Over the next forty years, the design remained the same and about five million buses were manufactured over that time. The Type II with the engine located in the rear and ‘box on wheels’ body filled a sizable gap in the market. With its simple to produce design, VW was able to churn 90 separate body combinations over the first five years of production. All sorts of different variants were produced including buses, pick-ups, fire engines, ambulances, beer wagons, ice cream vans, milk floats, bread vans and of course the much loved camper.
Part Two of our history of the VW camper continues in tomorrow’s blog!