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From First Sketch To Production, VW Type 2

Sep 5, 2012

Humble Sketch to Roadworthy Wonder: The VW Type 2 Saga

It all began with a sketch. Not just any sketch, mind you, but the humble beginnings of what would become the beloved VW Type 2, affectionately known as the VW Bus. Picture this: it's 1947, and Dutchman Ben Pon is strolling through the Volkswagen factory grounds, dreaming of owning the first Beetle imported into the Netherlands. But then, like a bolt from the blue, he spots something peculiar—a makeshift boxy contraption shuffling parts around. And that's when the lightbulb flickers on above his head.

Original Volkswagen Transporter Prototype

The Original Volkswagen Transporter Prototype: Birth of a Legend

This prototype, likely constructed of wood and basic materials, served as the blueprint for the versatile vehicle that would revolutionize transportation. Understanding the original Volkswagen Transporter prototype unveils the ingenuity and practicality that continue to define this beloved design

Volkswagen Transporter Assembly Line
T1 A 1950–1955 Wolfsburg (Germany)
B, C 1956–1967 Hanover (Germany)
B, C 1957–1975 São Bernardo do Campo (Brazil)
A (Barndoor) B (Rear Door) C (Wide Rear Window)
T2 A, B 1967–1979 Hanover and Emden (Germany)
B 1971–1996 General Pacheco (Argentina)
B, C 1976– 2013 São Bernardo do Campo (Brazil)
B 1981–1986 Puebla, Puebla (Mexico)
A (Early Bay) B (Late Bay) C (Brazilian Van, Slightly Raised Roof)

Enter the "Plattenwagen," a rudimentary flatbed truck that caught Pon's eye for its ingenious use of space and versatility. With a mind buzzing with ideas, Pon sketches out a vision for a compact MPV (that's Multi-Purpose Vehicle for the uninitiated), weighing in at a mere 750 kg (or 1650 lb for our imperial pals), capable of hauling hefty loads with ease. Excitedly, Pon shares his brainchild with the bigwigs at the factory, only to be met with a chorus of "We're a tad busy with this whole Beetle craze, old chap."

Blue print VW Bus

But fear not, for Pon's vision refuses to be squashed. Eventually, it lands on the desk of VW head honcho Heinz Nordhoff, who gives it the nod of approval. Prototypes are built, tweaks are made, and before you can say "Das Auto," the VW Type 2 rolls onto the scene in 1949, sporting a ladder-type frame and a body that's as aerodynamic as a brick (not great when you've got a measly 24 horsepower under the hood).

First Model VW Bus
A revised front end of this scale model greatly improves the resistance coefficient, 44, which is slightly better than the Beetle (obviously the whole is greater resistance due to the front largest). Nordhoff approved type 2 for production, based on the first prototype rolling of 1949 (below).

A swift redesign later, and voilà! The resistance coefficient improves, paving the way for Nordhoff to greenlight production. And thus, in a cloud of exhaust fumes and German engineering prowess, the first Cargo Transporter hits the road, swiftly followed by the Kombi—complete with its nifty removable seats and windows for days.

1950 Kombi Bus
1950 Samba Bus

Fast forward to 1950, and the VW Type 2 family expands with the arrival of the Kombi and the Samba Microbus. The Kombi boasts 11 windows for those who like a view, while the Samba goes all out with a whopping 23 windows (because who needs walls, right?). Optional roof windows make it a hit with sightseeing buses across Europe and future collectors alike.

First Brochure

And so, dear reader, the saga of the VW Type 2 unfolds—a tale of innovation, determination, and the unshakeable belief that sometimes, all it takes is a sketch to change the world. So next time you see a VW Bus cruising down the highway, spare a thought for Ben Pon and his boxy brainchild. After all, behind every iconic vehicle lies a sketch waiting to become a legend.

VW bus first sketch
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