One of the most iconic vehicles in motoring history has finally reached the end of the road.
The last ever Volkswagen “Type 2” – more commonly known as the VW Camper, kombi or bus – rolls off the production line on December 31.
It is being retired after 64 years in continuous production because it cannot be adapted to meet modern safety regulations.
The last kombi will be made in Brazil, the country which has produced them for 56 years and where they are a vital thread in the fabric of everyday life.
A vehicle that came to symbolise the counter-culture in much of the world – as the van of choice for hippies and surfers alike – remains very much a mundane staple in Brazil.
It seems that everyone you talk to learned to drive in one and everywhere you turn they are being used to sell, deliver or provide shelter.
Angelisa Stein is making a movie to mark the passing of the kombi. She said: “It is a car that is in touch with a lot of generations here. It will not be the same to have just another car.”
The kombi is being phased out because modern requirements such as anti-lock brakes and airbags cannot be fitted into a frame that has changed little in 50 years.
A run of 600 last edition kombis – priced at £25,000 each – has sparked a rush among collectors and nostalgic fans.
Driving one of the last ones – with no air conditioning and “stirring custard” gear box – is remarkably reminiscent of driving one from the 1970s. Even down to the feeling of being behind the wheel of something special.
Of course, with a production run of around 10 million kombis, there are plenty that will be around for many years to come.
At a classic car rally in Rio, owners proudly showed off customised vans and talked of their sadness at the end of the kombi era.
Mechanic Adriano Godinho said: “It is a car which has represented a lot for us in this country.”
“It has been used to transport goods, it is a workman’s car, it is a family car, so it is something that’s in us. It is part of the family.”
The van was originally named the “Type 2” as it was only the second vehicle the company made after the Beetle.
Tags: end of the road, history, iconic vehicle, Volkswagen Camper