Published on March 10th, 2016 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
VW Microbus Celebrates It Birthday………And We Forgot
On March 8, 1950, production on the iconic VW Microbus began and on this same day, six years later, their Hanover factory opened. The factory took over production of the Microbus and was hailed as a marvel of modern production.
Volkswagen celebrated the opening of their Hanover plant with a special retrospective dedicated to the Microbus 2 days ago.
The idea for the world famous van began, like so many other vehicles, with a one-off special edition. Called the Plattenwagen, the vehicle was commissioned by Major Ivan Hirst, the British officer put in charge of re-commissioning the VW factory after the war. That truck was simply designed to be a flatbed, used to move parts around the factory.
In 1947, a Dutch Volkswagen importer called Ben Pon saw the Plattenwagen and sketched out what would later become the Type 2, or Microbus.
The Type 2 was based off of a Beetle (the Type 1), and used the same 25 HP engine and much of the same architecture, which presented the design team with a number of challenges. The frame needed to be strengthened, and the body reshaped to help it cut through the air.
The result was a stroke of packaging genius and the Type 2 became hugely successful. The Microbus would continue production largely unchanged until 1979. VW stuck with the rear-engined van idea until 1990, when finally, the front-engined, water cooled T4 took over as the brand’s van.
The Microbus, though, goes down as one of Volkswagen’s best-loved designs and to this day Volkswagen has been trying to recapture the magic of the original. Just this year, Volkswagen announced the BUDD-e (a play on one of the Microbus’s other nicknames, “Bulli”), an all-electric concept vehicle.