Looking Back: The VW Van is Born

The VW Van is an iconic piece of the counterculture movement, but do you know how our beloved microbuses came to be? If not here’s a little refresher course.

The concept for the VW van (or Volkswagen Type 2 as it came to be known) was devised by a Dutch VW importer named Ben Pon in 1947. After viewing the Plattenwagen, one of the vehicles used for transporting parts around the VW manufacturing plant, Pon reimagined the vehicle in his sketchbook and shared the drawings with engineers at Volkswagen.

352b09a0f262eb9660a32b5bb3e50312By 1947, European countries were in the midst of rebuilding their cities and communities post-WWII. With a great deal of growth occurring in both infrastructure and industry, Pon correctly assumed that a small commercial transport vehicle would be welcomed by the public.

The VW manufacturing plant at that time was running full steam producing the Type 1 Volkswagen, commonly known as the Beetle. Thus it was not until November of 1949 that the first VW Type 2 vans officially rolled off the production line.  The first van was called the Kombi, and came in two styles. The first was a transporter model that boasted side windows and passenger seating, and the second was purely for commercial transport. Later iterations would go on to introduce a wide variety of colors, windows, and seating arrangement choices – but we’ll get into those later.

So the next time you see a VW van and your heart bursts with joy, send a little mental thank you to Ben Pon, our favorite Dutchman.

Sources: Ronnie Schreiber, Wikipedia, Ben Pon Website


About the Author // Eliza Dropkin is the newest member of Vantigo. She enjoys live music, good food, and cruising around town in Jerry (the other newest member of Vantigo).

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