Brazil was the last country still producing the iconic VW campervan,
In Brazil it’s known as the “Kombi,” an abbreviation for the German “Kombinationsfahrzueg” that loosely translates to mean “cargo-passenger van.”
Auf Wiedersehen Kombinationsfahrzeug . VW announced production will end Dec. 31. Happy New Year kombi
Safety regulations for Brazil’s evolving safety laws have finally caught up with the van, apparently it is too difficult to lower emissions and introduce such a complex system in a vehicle where the basic design dates all the way back to 1967 , every vehicle produced in Brazil must now have air bags fitted and anti-lock braking systems starting in 2014, and the company decided it could not change production to meet the law.
The German automaker has for the present ended production of the iconic vehicle since the end of December. However there may be a reprieve please read on. Brazil’s finance minister Guido Mantega is looking into whether a special exemption can be permitted for the Kombi, based upon the fact that the original design did not allow room for modern safety features to be incorporated and the kombi represented a very affordable and efficient form of transport for Brazilian businesses.
For lucky buyers and collectors a limited edition final version would be available to buy.
The VW Kombi as it was called in Brazil had been produced there for over 56 years, ending with the 1,200 last edition models.
Over the years Volkswagon had produced more than 10 million of the VW Transporter vans globally since the model was first introduced 63 years ago in Germany,
More than 1.5 million had been produced in Brazil alone since 1957.
The VW plant in Mexico ceased production of the classic version of the van back in 1995, leaving the factory on Sao Paulo’s outskirts as the last place still in production of the iconic vehicle .
Production in Germany was halted in 1979 because the van no longer met European safety requirements. The wedge-shaped T3/T25 was introduced next which in turn was replaced by the front-engine T4 in 1990 and the current model, the T5, in 2003.
The body of the modern kombis had only minor differences to the German kombis produced in the 70’s.It had a slightly elevated roof, differences on the lower section of the driver and passenger door and the most noticable difference being the large radiator grill at the front as the buses were no longer air cooled but equipped with a water-cooled engine since 2005.
The VW T2 is so deeply embedded in popular culture though it will definitely live on longer in the imagination of many people around the world and continue to inspire proud owners everywhere to customise their own little piece of history.
Steve Jobs is rumoured to have sold his van in the 70’s to raise the money to buy a circuit board as he built the first computer that helped launch Apple.
The T2 camper has always been linked to the California surf scene, its spacious interior was perfect for hauling surf boards to the beach.
But in poorer regions like Africa and especially Latin America, the vehicle doesn’t carry the same romantic appeal being a workhorse in daily use.
The bus definitely has never had the same cool image in Sao Paulo that it does in San Francisco but has certainly been put to a variety of more usages.
It’s been used by the postal service in Brazil to deliver the mail, used by the army to transport it’s soldiers, and even used by morticians to carry corpses! Makes sense really if it was big enough to fit a surfboard the versatile bus could be put to plenty of other uses.
It has served as the school bus for kids, been operated as a group taxi minibus and used to deliver whatever resourceful owners could cram inside. Brazilians frequently converted their vans into the Brasilian equivalent of the burger van, kombi food carts can be seen on street corners all over the country .
Happy New Year from Vanwurks and take comfort from the fact that many VW campervans will continue to roll on even if it’s not off a production line and proud owners everywhere will continue to lovingly restore their own Kombinationsfahrzueg.
There may yet be a special exemption for the kombi , it was still the 6th best-selling light commercial vehicle to be bought in Brazil and could even carry a tonne in weight even though it did not weigh much more itself.
Leave it to the clever people at Volkswagen to pay suitable homage to the kombi even giving it an unlaunch advertisement.