Volkswagen has announced that it will end Brazilian production of the Type 2 ‘Kombi’ van on December 31 2013, bringing to a close 63 years of history for this iconic vehicle.
As reported by our sister magazine Autocar, new Brazilian safety regulations, which come into force in 2014, will force Volkswagen to halt Type 2 production. Brazil is the only place in which the Type 2 is still manufactured.
Despite the fact that European Type 2 production ceased in 1979, campervan enthusiasts on this side of the Atlantic have long had the option of buying campers built on new Brazilian Type 2s, thanks to campervan manufacturer Danbury. The firm imports base vehicles from Brazil and converts them in its factory outside Bristol.
Danbury’s co-founder Jason Jones told us that the company intends to continue building on Brazilian Type 2s right up to the end of the production run. He expects to see an upsurge in sales next year, as it will be the last chance for customers to get their hands on a new Type 2. After production ends, Danbury will continue to convert used Type 2 vans.
The iconic Type 2 was the second model in Volkswagen’s history, after the even more legendary Beetle. It was first conceived by a Dutch VW dealer, Ben Pon, who was inspired by a special load-carrying vehicle that VW engineers had built to transport parts around a factory.
The first-generation Type 2 rolled off VW’s lines in 1949, and featured a rear-mounted, air-cooled engine, as well as the iconic split windscreen, which earned it the nickname ‘splittie’. The windscreen was replaced with a single-piece 'bay window' when the second-generation Type 2 debuted in 1967.
The Type 2’s versatility allowed it to serve as excellent base for a campervan. Westfalia built the first conversions in 1951. The VW camper (or Bus, as it’s known in the US) became an instant counter-cultural hero, and was adopted by the hippie and surfer movements, making it one of the most recognisable vehicles in history.
Brazilian law has already triggered major alterations to the Type 2 – in 2006 emissions legislations forced VW to abandon the air-cooled engines, which were replaced with water-cooled units lifted from the VW Polo. This also forced a redesign of the front end, to incorporate a radiator grille.
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