volkswagen t2

VW T2: Much more than a van - Part 1

No, don't think we're going to give you a lecture about love, world peace, or psychedelic rock, but writing about this vehicle cannot ignore its involvement in the Hippie movement. Both this model and its older sister, the T1, are indelible symbols of everything that happened during those wonderful and revolutionary years.

Why did hippies choose Volkswagen vans over another car? In the first place, because it is a car to share, to travel in a group, a basic principle of its philosophy. On the other hand, there were many in the second-hand market and they were found both in America and Europe, they had a low purchase price and maintenance was also quite cheap; They were very reliable, they could travel many kilometers without having to visit the workshop and they were also easy to repair and their spare parts were easily found by sharing many of their parts with the Beetles, which packed scrapyards around the world.

Over the years, other vehicles that met some of these requirements appeared, in fact the followers of this countercultural trend also used - to a lesser extent - other models of van such as Mercedes, Ford Transit, Renault Estafette or Citroen H, but they already he knows that the one who hits first hits twice and, by then, the image of the hippies had been definitively linked with the nice VW.

volkswagen transporter
Flower Power: The T1s are undoubtedly a hippie icon (For vintage camper fan)

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A little history

Its original design starts from the Beetle or Beetle. Specifically, it was the importer of these cars in the Netherlands, Ben Pon, who, on a visit to the German factory in the late 1s, upon discovering a bodyless VW Beetle that they used to move materials and parts around the facilities, had the brilliant idea. to use that same platform in a van, moving the driving position to the front and covering the whole with a simple bodywork. Thus was born (with a somewhat more logically studied design) the first TXNUMX with its peculiar engine configuration hanging behind the rear axle.

Its manufacture began in 1950 and little by little, thanks to its economy of use and reliability, it made its way into the market until it became an unprecedented worldwide success, following in the footsteps of its traveling companion, the Beetle. At first its use was fundamentally professional: its variety of bodies, closed box van, kombi with windows (mixed use, with seats that could be removed) and pickup, helped to cover a wide spectrum of commercial vehicles.

The catalog was gradually expanded and there were versions of ambulance, tow truck, Samba minibus (with small windows in the roof), double cabin pickup and, a very interesting one, the Camper, equipped with furniture with a kitchen and a bed for hobbyists. travel with the house in tow. The German company Westfalia improved the Camper by installing a raised and extendable roof.

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volkswagen t2
Camper second series from 1972 with Westfalia roof (By Anchoafoto)

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Truly, neither T2 nor T1 had that name at first. Commercially they were called Transporter, and internally Volkswagen identified both as Type 2, as it was the second model to enter production after the Second World War, after the British took over the Wolfsburg factory.

If you remember, this was the place chosen by Adolf Hitler to make the Volkswagen, the people's car; the model was the KdF, an acronym for the slogan Kraft Durch Freude, force through joy, one of the typical propaganda messages of National Socialism. It would soon become the Beetle, which logically and as you may have guessed was Type 1. It was not until the 90s that the 3rd and 4th generation Transporters were officially called T3 and T4, and the former were renamed T1. and T2.

Also, outside our borders, the classic Transporter is identified as "Split Window", split windshield, first, and "Bay Window", panoramic windshield, the second.

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volkswagen t2
The Beetles gave rise to the Transporter (From Bundesarchiv, Bild 146II-732 / Photo: o. Ang, o Dat.)


As we have already mentioned, the T1 derived directly from the Beetle, maintaining the wheelbase and, to reduce production costs as much as possible, the same mechanics and the same engine, the well-known 4-cylinder horizontally opposed and air-cooled. With a displacement of 1.100 cc, it produced 25 hp, which is absolutely insufficient power to move a cargo vehicle with any ease, which is why it was soon replaced by the 1.200 cc engine and, later, in the last years of production, by a 1.5-liter engine. .

After going through three phases of production while constantly improving and after eighteen years of successful sales, T1 gave way to T2. This, despite maintaining the same concept and configuration as its predecessor, was a much more advanced and usable vehicle, so much so that it has remained in force to this day; Let's not forget that although in Germany it was replaced by the T3 in 1979, in Mexico it continued to be produced until 1994 and in Brazil until the end of 2013.

volkswagen t2
Kombi T2 from the first series (1968-1972), with a whole life ahead (By Anchoafoto)

Compared to the first generation, the T2 kept the same wheelbase of 2.400 mm but grew in length and height, becoming somewhat more practical and capable. Also heavier, so it required a better engine, which has been constantly evolving and increasing in displacement and power. It has carried 1.600, 1.700, 1.800 and 2.000 cc engines always air-cooled, except since 1991, when some versions of the Mexican and Brazilian vans had liquid cooling. It has even housed diesel and gasoline injection engines and automatic transmission.

In its constant technical evolution, the T2 has given rise to three well differentiated and externally identifiable series ...


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Carlos Sanz placeholder image

Written by Carlos Sanz placeholder image

I was born in Madrid in 1964, the wrong time and place for a car enthusiast. It is well known that at that time, despite coinciding with the Spanish economic expansion and the car fleet increased considerably, the supply of models was ... Read More


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