Volkswagen Ant
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Volkswagen Ant, the minimalist truck that nobody wanted

With the enormous success of Volkswagen products worldwide, the Wolfsburg brand decided to develop a small truck for light loads in the 70s and based on the existing reliable mechanics and, although it was also planned for developing countries, it was They made very few units.

Volkswagen became known throughout the world with its reliable cars since the 40s, when exports to other countries outside Germany began. Since the 50s, the brand began to establish factories on other continents, the first being Volkswagen do Brasil.

Advertisement Volkswagen Ant
Tireless is perhaps the word that best describes him.

En South America, Volkswagen expanded its business horizons, coming to develop specific models for some countries. Mexico was another of the countries where the brand was most successful, with the beloved "Vocho" or Beetle being the most recognizable taxi in the country. There, the model ceased manufacturing in 2003, almost 25 years after it was discontinued in its native Germany. 

Within the framework of the Oil Crisis, the Puebla factory in Mexico set out to manufacture a small light truck taking advantage of the components that were available in the factory. The idea is that it should be economical and easy to maintain.


By 1975, in Mexico it began to manufacture this vehicle that was called Volkswagen T200, although it was also called Ant, emphasizing its qualities as a work vehicle. Due to its extreme simplicity, even more than the Transporter, received the internal name of Basistransporter EA 489.

Unlike the Transporter, the Volkswagen EA 489 was mid-engine and front-wheel drive.
Unlike the Transporter, the Volkswagen EA 489 was mid-engine and front-wheel drive.

Similar to the Plattenwagen manufactured in Wolfsburg since the 40s and based on the Type 1, the T200 was initially designed for transport work within the Mexican factory, creating a vehicle with existing parts, although Finally, it was decided to manufacture it in series.

La Hormiga used 4-cylinder boxer mechanics and air-cooled 1.600 cubic centimeters that developed 44 CV. It is curious that, despite the fact that these engines used to be located in motor cars and rear-wheel drive, in the T200 the engine was central, located under the cab, and front-wheel drive.

The interior of the Volkswagen Ant was extremely spartan.
The interior of the Volkswagen Hormiga was extremely spartan, although it allowed three occupants to be carried.

The shapes were angular and square, with an extremely simple and functional design. The load capacity was only 750 kilos and could reach a maximum speed of 85 kilometers per hour.

The Ant was available in three colors: red, blue and white. It could also be bought with a cab and chassis for bodywork, which made it common to convert it into a surprisingly spacious motorhome. Normally the Ant was a pick-up, but it was also built as a bus, van, ambulance...

The Ant could be bodied in many ways.
The Ant could be bodied in almost any way imaginable.

Finally, it would be between 1978 and 1979 when the Ant stopped being manufactured in Mexico, where it was not very popular, with only 3.600 units sold, becoming a true rarity today, highly valued in the country. 


Also in 1975, from the Volkswagen plant in Hannover, Germany, begins manufacturing the Basistransporter EA 489. The intention was to take it to developing countries where Volkswagen already sold its vehicles, and which, thanks to its simple mechanics, would be easy to maintain in places where means were more limited.

The Volkswagen Basistransporter made in Germany.
The Volkswagen Basistransporter made in Germany.

In Germany, some 2.600 units were manufactured until 1979, although curiously few Basistransporters left the country fully assembled. Most were sent as kits, just a chassis with instructions for its later assembly.. Like an IKEA piece of furniture, to understand each other.

Exports reached countries like Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Türkiye and Indonesia. Some two hundred units also arrived in Africa sent from Finland as a relief package.

The Indonesian version of the Volkswagen EA 489 used the T2 body with a front grille.
The Indonesian version of the Volkswagen EA 489 used the T2 body with a front grille.

In markets like New Zealand or Australia, they were hardly sold, since in these countries they had access to much more advanced and sophisticated vehicles. But in others where the car was not yet well established, the EA 489 had a better reception. 

Given the creative freedom, which made the Basistransporter arrive as a chassis with mechanics, it allowed countries like Turkey or Indonesia used the body of the Type 2 van on the EA 489, giving a curious front-wheel drive, mid-engined version of the iconic T2.

His cute appearance failed to win over the public, at least in developed countries.

Despite the fact that this van could have been the formula for success in countries with emerging economies, the Basistransporter EA 489, or Hormiga in Mexico, never became a "marabunta". Upside down, they became one of the lower production Volkswagen models, very far from the millionaire figures that the brand used to. Today, that makes it especially interesting because of its rarity.

Volkswagen Ant platform chassis
Chassis-platform ready to be bodyworked according to the buyer's needs.

Photographs of Volkswagen de México and Volkswagen.

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Written by Javillac

This thing about cars comes to one since childhood. When other kids preferred the bicycle or the ball, I kept the toy cars.
I still remember as if it were yesterday a day when a black 1500 overtook us on the A2, or the first time I saw a Citroën DS parked on the street, I have always liked chrome bumpers.

In general, I like things from before the time I was born (some say I'm reincarnated), and at the top of that list are cars, which, together with music, make the ideal combination for a perfect time: driving and a soundtrack according to the corresponding car.

As for cars, I like classics of any nationality and era, but my weakness is American cars from the 50s, with their exaggerated shapes and dimensions, which is why many people know me as "Javillac".

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