It’s 2017 and I’m delirious with envy, who will end up buying these beauties? My buses keep me busy and I don’t have a spare forty-one thousand pounds lying around, but this would make a great get around vehicle, or maybe a wine tour bus…dreaming. Nice to look at the site and imagine. My Last Kombi thread is here.
Posted tagged ‘The Last Kombi’
I don’t think there has ever been so much fanfare for a vehicle ending production, not even the Beetle which deserves its accolades too. I believe this video was produced by Volkswagen Brasil as a tip of the hat to one of the most successful vehicles of all time. So I guess we must accept that the Volkswagen van will not be coming back any time soon, but far from being gone many are still being driven worldwide. Add to that an abundance of affordable parts and I think we’ll be seeing a lot of bullis, buses, and kombis for a long time.
I’ve been quiet for the past week or so, “Wishin’ And Hopin’” as Dusty Springfield sang in 1964, waiting for some conclusive news on the fate of the iconic Kombi. Here’s what I’ve found, everything including:
– The final Kombi was produced on December 20th
– The final Kombi was produced on January 3rd
– Finance minister Guido Mantega says he would try to save the Kombi
– Finance minister Guido Mantega makes a case to the save the bus and is denied (Brazilian press)
– Last shipment of 99 Kombis on their way to Danbury Motor Caravans in Britain
There seems to be some variation of the facts, and to be honest the Guido Mantega story appears to be losing steam if it hasn’t fizzled already. In reality we haven’t seen new bay window buses in North America since 1979, I remember my disappointment when I heard the news that the Vanagon would replace the bread loaf. It’s amazing I didn’t realize, until about 10 years ago, that the Type 2 was still being produced in other parts of the world. According to Wikipedia the bay window bus was produced in the following countries between these dates:
Aug 1967–Jul 1979 (Europe and US)
1976–Dec 2013 (Brazil)
According to that list some would have been produced in the U.S. though I’m not sure about that. So a holiday through any one of those Latin American countries would certainly be interesting for the VW van enthusiast. Today’s video from a happier day, posted by Youtube user Sidney Gubitoso, is a news story from Brazilian TV celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Kombi in 2007. Some great historical footage.
In this piece, which was filed back early December 2013, the BBC’s Wyre Davies laments the end of Kombi production. Some of the best shots I’ve seen of the factory floor where most of the work is done by hand. Since Volkswagen Brazil has nothing to replace it with they should have simply keep making our favourite vehicle. Click the photo to go to the video and article on the BBC site.
Here are a few headlines from the English press which provide a glimmer of hope. Most if not all of these lead back to comments made by Brazilian finance minister Guido Mantega who said the iconic VW bus could be made exempt to new auto safety regulations that begin in 2014. I believe there is a slight error in that last headline it should read, “continuous production in Brazil since 1957,” not 1969. The Kombi is a unique vehicle that should be kept in production. In South America it’s a work horse, beloved by the masses. Viva Kombi! Viva Westfalia!
I’ve been unable to find conclusive evidence that the Volkswagen Kombi will continue to be produced in Brazil in 2014. However, there are some tantalizing bits and pieces in the Brazilian press that make it seem like the bus could be left in production for 3 more years which would bring it up to 2016. Here’s a Google translation from a Brazilian news site, the referred to Tuesday being December 17th, 2013:
“Government keeps requirement for airbag and ABS, but can save the Kombi” 2013-12-17
“BRASILIA – The finance minister, Guido Mantega, said on Tuesday that the government will stick to the schedule that provides for compulsory manufacture 100% of domestic vehicles, from 2014, with airbag and ABS brakes as mandatory items. He said, however, that an exceptionality to the van, which would give two or three years of life for the vehicle can be created.” Translated from Economia Estadao
Apparently 1000 workers will be affected by the layoffs, and perhaps saving the jobs is a key motivation to prolong production. Maybe they could produce them for export only, Britain has no problem letting them in, the same goes for some other European countries. Today’s video comes from Youtube user Programa Vrum and features some great historical shots of the factory floor in Brazil.
Some years ago I made the incredible discovery that Type 2 Volkswagen vans were still being manufactured in Brazil. After I stopped jumping and cheering I calmed down enough to begin looking for more information. Of course there is the Volkswagen Brasil website, but I wanted a look at the factory assembly line in São Paulo, didn’t find anything, until now. Here’s a short TV news story with a great look at the factory floor where, unlike their more modern siblings, the buses are assembled for the most part by hand. Meanwhile, we wait for tomorrow’s announcement, will the Kombi continue? Stay tuned…