VW’s most versatile van is still a classic today.
The birth of the Classic Bus – The VW Type II (Type I being the Beetle) arose after World War II when the British found themselves running the VW factory in Wolfsburg, Germany. Ben Pon, a Dutch VW importer, saw the motorised trolleys built using stripped down Beetle chassis and sketched a design for a beetle-based van, which looked rather like a box on wheels. Heinz Nordhoff took on this idea a year later when he took over as chief executive of Volkswagen and the first VW van was launched at the Geneva Motor Show in 1949. Production began on in 1950. The basic design remained the same for four decades and over five million buses were produced. The forward control vehicle with rear engine and box-shaped body filled a gap created in the market in Europe after the War for simple but sturdy vehicles for transporting with a high degree of flexibility and low costs. The first generation of Volkswagen buses were built from 1949 to 1967, and are known as split-window buses or ‘splitties’. The splitties sported a 2-panel “split” windscreen with a sweeping v-line front and a large VW emblem. The VW Bus can carry up to eight people and the two rear rows of seats can be removed in order to transport greater loads. As the design was so elementary, VW turned out 90 different body amalgamations including buses, Pick Ups, fire engines, ambulances, beer wagons, refrigerated ice-cream vans, milk floats, mobile butchers shops, bread vans, mobile ambulance mobile grocers, ordinary delivery vans of course the camper.