During my middle school and early high school years, my family owned a Volkswagen Type 2 Camper Van. We used to take it camping in the mountains or at Disney World, and it was as much fun as a conversation piece as it was as a vehicle. I wanted that vehicle for my own so badly, and my dad told me he’d give it to me when I turned 16. I imagined how great it would be to have a cool drink waiting for me in the icebox at the end of the day, and of course I knew it would be the perfect tailgate vehicle on fall Saturdays in Athens. Alas, my dad sold it when I was 15, and I never got to own one.
Volkswagen introduced the Type 2 (call it the Camper Van, Bus, Microbus, or Kombi if you want to) in 1950, and it was a fixture on American roads until 1967. Other countries held on to it longer, including Brazil, the last country to continue producing and selling them. Brazil began making the Kombi in 1957, an astounding record of longevity that, sadly, will end this New Year’s Eve, when the last van rolls off the assembly line.
As FoxNews.com reported last year, the van sold there as the Kombi is finally being discontinued due to upcoming safety regulations that it simply can’t be modified to meet.
To mark the end of its historic run, Volkswagen will build 600 “Last Edition” Kombis featuring retro white and light blue two-tone paint and vinyl upholstery, whitewall tires, white painted hubcaps, a set of curtains and a numbered plaque.
No longer air-cooled, the Kombi is powered by a flex-fuel 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine to accommodate Brazil’s wide use of ethanol, but comes only with an old-school four-speed manual transmission.
The price for the Last Edition Kombi is approximately $36,000, so it’s not exactly the people’s van of old, but with some originals now selling for over $200,000, this limited edition could be a real (as in the Brazillian currency) deal.
Even though rumors abound that VW will introduce a minivan concept with a similar style to the old Type 2 in 2014, it’s sad to know that the last of these funky, kitschy bits of car culture comes off the line this year.