The VW Camper or Transporter, officially known as the Volkswagen Type 2 was introduced by the VW Motor Group back in 1950.
As one of the forerunners of the modern cargo passenger van, the Type 2 is credited to Dutch Volkswagen importer Ben Pon (it has similarities in concept to the early 20s Rumpler Tropfenwagen and also the 30s Dymaxion car by Buckminster Fuller.
Although the aerodynamics of the first prototypes were poor, engineers used wind tunnels to optimise the design. Simple changes were made such as splitting the windshield and roofline into a “vee”.
In 1949, Volkswagens Chief Executive Officer Heinz Nordhoff approved the van for production.
As vans started to roll off the production line, two other models were offered to the market, the Kombi (with two side windows and the middle and rear seats were easily removable by one person), and the Commercial, the Microbus was added in May 1950. It was then followed by the Deluxe Microbus in June 1951.
December 1951 saw the introduction of an Ambulance model which repositioned the fuel tank in front of the transaxle, also saw the spare type being placed behind the front seat and also added a tailgate style rear door. These features became standard on the Type 2 from 1955 to 1967.
In the summer of 1952, a single cab pickup was launched. With the success of the VW Camper, a trend started to emerge in Europe with GM bringing out the Bedford CA in 1952. RAF-977 was created in 1958 and also Renault entered the market with the Renault Estafette in 1959. Stateside, the Chevrolet company launched the Corvair.
It’s certainly fair to say the VW Camper not only was a hugely successful vehicle but also changed the market place forever.
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