The Volkswagen brand is a household name when it comes to cars. The company has been around for decades and has evolved into a truly iconic brand.
The Volkswagen microbus
The Volkswagen microbus, also known as the Volkswagen Type 2 or the Transporter, is the second-ever model of the Volkswagen, built after the Beetle (Type 1).
Production of this model officially began on March 8, 1950. After production, it somehow became a favorite mode of transport for hippies in the United States. This earned it the title “hippie bus.”
Young people took advantage of the model and used it to transport themselves and their ‘supplies’ to concerts and rallies.
The design of the microbus was so simple, yet efficient. It was the handiwork of Dutch businessman Ben Pon, a Volkswagen importer in 1947.
He got the idea for the microbus from utilitarian work trucklets he saw around the factory. These trucks had the engines placed at the rear just like the Beetle.
Pon let his creative juices flow and sketched a van version of the trucklets on paper. It wasn’t much to look at, but the executives of the company saw the potential in it. And with that came the creation of the microbus. 
Models of the Volkswagen bus
There are several models of the bus in existence. They all have one thing in common: the simplicity and efficiency Volkswagen is known for.
- First-generation models
The first generation models ran for about 18 years and had quite remarkable features for that time. From a split windshield layout to a 44-horsepower engine and removable middle and rear seats, it’s truly was the epitome of efficiency during its time.
- Second-generation models
The second-generation that came after the original had a few adjustments including the replacement of the split windshield by a wrap-around window, and an upgrade of the engine to 65 horsepower.
- Third-generation models
Then came the third-generation models in the 80s. They were known as the Vanagons. Production and sale were short-lived in the United States due to high tariffs.
However, production continued in Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Australia. As of 2009, only the plant in Brazil was manufacturing the van. The Vanagon featured water-cooled engines and several adjustments in the design. 
Unique paintings on the Volkswagen bus
The Type 2 buses are essentially canvases for art. Several of the vehicle owners painted murals on their buses. They used bright colors to give the vehicles distinct looks, and even replaced the Volkswagen logo on the front with a peace symbol.
Most of the paintings are of the Volkswagen beetle. It blended so seamlessly with the bus that you could almost see just how the Type 2 Volkswagen was birthed from the Type 1 Beetle.
It wasn’t just the car owners that embraced the artsy side of the buses. According to author Phil Patton of Bug: The Strange Mutations of the World’s Most Famous Automobile, Volkswagen ran an ad that featured a drawing of the front of the bus with a tear streaming down in. This was after the death of Grateful Dead musician Jerry Garcia in 1995. Of course, they kept the VW logo. 
Sadly production of the Volkswagen microbus came to an end
In 2013, Volkswagen announced the end of production of the microbus. This was mostly due to new environmental legislation that could not support the building of rear-engine vehicles.
Regardless of the shutdown, the over six-decade streak is one that any other car company out there will find very hard to rival.
The company has a couple of tricks up their sleeves
Irrespective of the fact that they had pulled the plug on the production of the Volkswagen microbus, it seems the model still holds a place in their hearts. At least it does for the masses who truly appreciated the quaint little buses.
There have been several efforts to revive the model by the company, but not much has stuck. Now, the company is toying with the concept of an electrified Volkswagen Type 2 bus. Volkswagen intends to work with Electric Vehicle Conversion Specialist, EV West on the projects. 
They chose the company because “their passion for classic-car culture and commitment to renewable energy” made them the ideal choice for the project, said VW of America’s Mathew Renna.
According to Michael Bream, Founder and CEO of EV West, “Merging a historic model from an iconic brand with the technology of today, is just one of many ways that we can step closer to a more sustainable future while continuing to enjoy our rich automotive heritage.” 
They intend to leave most of the design unchanged. Indeed it will be an incredible milestone if they’re able to achieve this and get the vehicles out on the open road.
The Volkswagen Type 2 bus was truly an iconic vehicle. The effortless way it blended into pop culture and the world of automobile paved the way for other vehicles in the world today.
It is truly deserving of all the accolades bestowed on it, and it is a timeless classic that will never be forgotten.
Keep Reading: The original Volkswagen Beetle repurposed to create a fashionably old-fashioned mini bike!
- “Peace, Love, & the VW Bus.” Popular Mechanics Ben Stewart. Published April 26, 2017
- “VW bus, icon of counterculture movement, goes into production.” History
- “Beetle Painted on Volkswagen: Gorgeous Pictures of VW Bus Paintings.” The Mind Circle
- “History of the Volkswagen Bus.” Auto Trends Published July 26, 2020
- “VW and EV West partner on electric Type 2 Bus conversion.” Motor Authority Bryon Hurd. Published November 25, 2019
- “Volkswagen Bulli minibus electrified.” Electrive. Published November 25, 2019