It is a sad, sad day when you get news like this: ‘After 63 years of production, the original Volkswagen Type 2 van and camper will finally cease production.’
Of course, European production of the dear old bay-window Type 2 ended decades ago when the square-rigged Type 3 was introduced, but production has continued, unabated, in Brazil ever since, and you can still get proper, brand-new, right-hand-drive versions through specialist importers like Danbury Caravans in the UK.
But now, thanks to a change in Brazilian law, which states that all vehicles sold there must be equipped with anti-lock brakes and driver and passenger airbags from 2014, the original VW bus will end production on 31 December 2013.
Although the car meets all emissions regulations for Brazil, modifying it to take airbags and ABS would just push the price up way too high, and, with Brazil being the biggest market for the car, that’s just a no-no.
The original Type 2 van was created as a factory hack for the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg Germany, and would have remained a one-off had not the Belgian VW importer spotted it on a factory visit and realised its sales potential. An immediate success, the van span off minibus, people carrier and pick-up variants, as well as the iconic camper. Originally a hard-working vehicle, it became synonymous with the hippy counter-culture of the sixties and seventies, before being replaced in 1979 by the square-edged Type 3.
The current front-engined T5 Transporter is a direct descendent of the basic original and, as well as a panel van version (in various lengths and heights), you can have it as a minibus, a pick-up, a luxurious Caravelle people carrier and, of course, the ever-popular California Camper, which VW reckons is the only fully-factory-built camper van you can buy.
There’s little or nothing to touch the sheer value of the Brazilian-built T2s though. According to Autocar magazine, VW reckons that you could buy two Type 2s for the price of just one ‘normal’ car.
How much is a ticket to Rio then?