The Volkswagen bus, officially the Volkswagen Type 2, went into production in 1949, first rolling off the assembly line on November 12. Remarkably, the bus, also known as the Transporter, Kombi and Microbus in various markets, has been in continuous production ever since somewhere in the world until now. But that’s coming to an end.
The Volkswagen Kombi, as it has been known in Brazil and where it has been made since November, 1957, will cease coming off the assembly line. The Volkswagen bus/transporter/combi/microbus easily has been in production longer than any other vehicle, with not just the name staying the same—such as the Toyota Corolla—but for various running changes, the whole thing.
The VW Kombi that’s finally going away is easily recognizable for what it is, with the driver perched over the front wheels and the engine slung out behind the rear axle, a brick with little wheels. However, in its final form, the VW Kombi is powered by the Volkswagen EA111 1.4-litre engine, an in-line water-cooled four cylinder rated at 78 horsepower on gasoline (or 80 horsepower running on ethanol).
In what’s become a tradition for the end of long model runs, the last of the Kombis will be a special edition. Only 600 of the Kombi Last Edition will be made, and all will be the same, said to represent the many versions made in Brazil since 1957. All the Last Edition models will be blue with the upper half white, along with whitewall tires, white center wheel caps and tinted rear windows.
The Brazilians have kept the faith with the Kombi inside, swathing it in blue and white vinyl, and configuring it to fit nine very friendly Brazilian friends. And just like home, the Volkswagen Kombi Last Edition has blue fabric curtains in the side and rear windows, with curtain fasteners with the ‘Kombi’ logo.
An anachronism, however, is the MP3 sound system, complete with red LEDs, and auxiliary and USB ports.
Naturally enough, the last Volkswagen Kombis will have serially numbered dash plaques, along with “56 anos – Kombi Last Edition” badges outside.
The airbag is killing the VW bus, however. A new Brazilian law will require cars made after December 31, 2013, to have driver and passenger airbags, which of course would require an entirely new vehicle, which defeats the purpose.
Of course, without moving to Brazil, it’s all academic. A Brazilian VW Kombi will set you back about $23,000, and good luck slipping this one into the U.S. under the radar anyway.
But when Dutch Volkswagen importer Ben Pon originally came up with the idea for the bus back in 1948, he hardly could have known that his idea would go on to become one of the few remaining items—not just cars—in production in the impossibly distant year of 2013. So with a round of Auld Lang Syne played by the Grateful Dead and a salute by the Volkswagen Kombi Last Edition, it really was a magic bus.