The Rich History of the VW Camper Van

History of VW Camper VanThe VW Camper Van is an iconic part of history. It was recently announced that production of the VW Transporter Type 2 will end next year, but not because of lack of popularity. Over the years, over 3.5 million camper vans have been produced around the world, and demands from new markets are coming in all the time. Unfortunately, new safety laws in Brazil for 2014 aren’t compatible with the minibus, so Volkswagen will be looking at its last model in December.

What made these camper vans such a quintessential piece of our world’s history in the first place? They are Volkswagen’s longest running models in automotive history, and they’re still in demand today. Heck, VW Brazil built 13,000 new Transporter Type 2’s in this year alone! Perhaps it’s the rich history of these camper vans that have made them so popular even in today’s world of sports cars and SUVs.

The origin of the VW Type 2 bus began just after WWII. Ben Pon, a Dutch importer, noticed that the motorized trolleys used to transport parts around the VW factory in Wolfsburg was made from a Beetle chassis and running gear. He made a rough sketch of a Beetle-based van that attracted the interest of VW. The first VW van made its debut in 1949 at the Geneva Motor Show.

The following year, about ten vehicles were being produced each day, and all favored the same rounded, simplistic design that was often referred to as a “box on wheels.” The goal for VW was to produce a simple but sturdy vehicle that was flexible, travel friendly and affordable. They accomplished this goal by offering removable rear seats, rear air-cooled engines and windscreens. In fact, these camper vans could be turned into virtually anything, including:

  • Campers

  • Buses

  • Pick-ups

  • Ice cream trucks

  • Fire engines

  • Ambulances

  • Beer wagons

  • Mobile butcher shops

  • Mobile grocers

  • Bread vans

  • Delivery trucks

Over the years, the VW Camper Van underwent many updates while preserving its original design. From split windscreens to larger engines to a dashboard with a clock and radio, new developments were being introduced regularly to accommodate the needs of drivers. Yet through all the styles of camper vans, it was really ‘the bay’ styles that made the VW camper van synonymous with American leisure and travel. These styles accommodated a wide variety of configurations that allowed for sleeping, storage and cooking. The last bay was produced in 1979, but VW has continued to produce similar models like the T25, T4 and T5.

No matter which style of camper van comes to mind, one thing is for certain: the VW camper vans represented a time of fun and freedom. They may have looked like a box on wheels, but to people, they are years of memories on wheels. Fortunately, you can share the good memories with your kids or grandkids with the 1965 VW Camper Van Tent in both kid and adult styles!

Image credit: jorgophotography / 123RF Stock Photo

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