Volkswagen vans are icons of automotive history. They were incredibly popular in the U.S. in the 1960s and continue to be loved by many enthusiasts. Learn a little more about the history of VW vans and how they came to be so beloved.
The original idea for the VW van was sketched in 1947 by a Dutch importer named Den Pon. He saw some of the motorized trolley parts being build by Volkswagen and came up with the idea for a road vehicle.
In 1949, VW reveled the first van at the Geneva Motor Show. The Type 2 generation went into production and remained largely unchanged for four decades. One of the things that drew people to the vans was their uncomplicated and flexible design. This made the platform perfect for ambulances, vendor wagons, ice cream vans, and more.
These first vans were called “splitties” because of their split windshields. This is perhaps the most iconic look.
After the splitties came the “early bay,” followed by the “late bay.” Each of these redesigns came with new styling. In addition to aesthetic changes, the early bay vans had much-needed mechanical upgrades, including improved suspension and a stabilizing back bar on the engine.
After the two bay generations came the T25. This was yet another redesign for the 1980s. Starting in 1981, the engine was water-cooled. This version got a power upgrade to a full 50 brake horsepower! Production of these would continue through the 1990s, but the van’s popularity slowly declined. The final vans were built in South Africa in 2002.
The Volkswagen vans offered something that wasn’t really available before: a passenger vehicle and camper with plenty of room, uncomplicated mechanics and a cool look. They were very popular with young people, especially the counterculture of the 1960s. Today, the vans are known for their retro looks, and vintage models are popular for tiny homes and camping.
If you have a Volkswagen or other European vehicle that is new or old, bring it to Rocco’s European Garage in Atlanta. Our professional team is here to help you with all your Volkswagen repair and maintenance needs. Schedule an appointment today.