After better than a year I finally got Kermit back from the shop! Ran like a top, now I need to get a job and save my pennies to get paint redone…
by Kurt Ernst – Reposted from Hemmings Daily
Volkswagen Transporter production in Wolfsburg, 1950. Photos courtesy Volkswagen AG.
It began with a simple idea, sketched on notebook paper by Dutch Volkswagen importer Ben Pon in 1947. Inspired by the Plattenwagen, a flatbed factory hauler built from the wartime Kuebelwagen, Pon imagined a Beetle-based bus that could meet the needs of commercial customers and consumers alike. The result was the Type 2 Transporter, which entered production on March 8, 1950, and remains in production (entering its sixth generation) for global markets today.
Two years after Pon’s notebook drawing, the first prototypes were completed. The initial four Transporters shown by then-factory-manager Heinrich Nordhoff in 1949 included two panel vans, a bus and a Kombi, a model with removable rear seats for hauling passengers or cargo. Nordhoff was well aware of the needs of buyers in postwar Germany, saying, “These vehicles won’t be handled with kid gloves, rather they will be treated roughly and recklessly.” The Transporter, or Type 2 as it became known, would need to be both simple and sturdy to meet these expectations.
Underpinning the various Transporter models was a unitized body mounted on a ladder frame, powered by the Beetle’s proven air-cooled, horizontally opposed four and using the car’s axles. The 1,131-cc engine produced a modest 18 kW (24.1 horsepower), but that was considered sufficient to haul up to eight passengers or 750 kilograms (1,650 pounds) of cargo, albeit slowly.
Priced at 5,850 DM (then the equivalent of about $1,395), the Transporter proved to be an immediate hit with tradesmen and retail customers, quickly becoming an essential part of Germany’s postwar economic growth. Initial production at Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg plant was limited to 10 units per day, but by the end of 1950, improved efficiencies allowed the automaker to achieve a total output of 8,001 Transporters.
In 1951, a Transporter with a camper body was shown at the Berlin Auto Show, adding to the bus’s commercial success and model range. Four years after production began, Volkswagen built its 100,000th Transporter, and by then the product portfolio had expanded to include 30 different variants for the domestic market. Though demand continued to grow, production in Wolfsburg (which also assembled the Type 1 Beetle) was capped at 80 Transporters a day, forcing Volkswagen to break ground on a new factory, in Hannover-Stoecken, in March of 1955. One year later, in March of 1956, the first Gemacht im Stoecken Transporters rolled off the assembly line.
The 100,000th Transporter rolls off the Wolfsburg assembly line, 1955.
In the United States, the Volkswagen bus remained a common sight on dealer lots through the third generation (sold from 1979-1991) and into the fourth (introduced in 1993). Slowing demand and rising costs saw fewer and fewer Eurovans (the North American name for the fourth-generation Transporter) on these shores, although Winnebago did build a mini-motorhome on the platform from 1995-2003. Even as sales declined in the United States, they remained relatively steady in Canada and Mexico, but by the time the fifth-generation Transporter was launched in 2002, U.S. and Canadian customers no longer had the option of buying one. Later, VW would test the family hauler waters again with the Volkswagen Routon, a rebadged Chrysler RT platform minivan introduced for the 2009 model year. It was not a success.
In 2015, Volkswagen will introduce its sixth generation Transporter, now built in both Hannover-Stoecken and in Poznan, Poland. As with the Amarok pickup, the Chicken Tax (a 25-percent tariff on imported light trucks) means the latest generation likely won’t be imported into the U.S., either.
Finally after almost 3 years, I finally have enough pennies saved to get the bus running. I may not get the body work completed but my hope is to make the Memorial Day campout!
Over my Birthday week. Birthday eve to be exact (25 July) we were visiting Steph’s family cottage in Macatawa Mi for the week. Taylor and I were going for a ride in the bus down US31. Just south of the Saugatuk exit I noticed that the engine lost power. Taylor mentioned he smelled gas. We pulled over and I saw that the engine was on fire! I grabbed the fire extinguisher, which didn’t work. A Spartan truck pulled up and gave Taylor an extinguisher and he put out the fire.
State Farm was very helpful. they totaled the bus and offered me $12,151.00. I bought the bus back for $2500 and still have $9600 for repairs. From the initial look, it appears that only the distributor and coil are melted along with the hoses. There was still power to the ignition and the motor still turns. I’m thinking with an engine rebuild and some body work, Ill be back in business with funds left over for other projects.
We went to our 2nd buses by the beach campout over memorial day weekend. For the most part it was a good time, but I got sick and the boys got flooded by rain. So we left on Sunday. Hoping for a better trip next year.
Taylor had a guitar playing contest with another camper. They both did a good job and it ended in a tie.
I took the inaugural trip in the bus last weekend to the River Rouge Campground in Belmont Mi. To attend the Buses by the Beach Camp out. This is a benefit for the Phoenix Society of Burn Survivors . One of the founding members of the group was in an airline crash and the society helped him in his recovery. This camp out, that has occurred for the last 8 years is his way of saying thanks.
The weekend was full of music and beer from the HopCat Brewery in Grand Rapids
There were many different ways to to contribute to the society. We had a lunch, breakfast and a raffle with many donated items. Of the quilt was the most coveted item. Many folks contributed the squares and then it was sewn into the quilt.
Sunday we went for a bus blessing to ensure that we all have safe travels during the summer. I can tell you that I didn’t pass that up given past history. We carabused to Townsend Park where we gathered into a circle for a moment of silence. Then each bus (and motorcycle) was blessed and a drop of 30wt oil under the bumper.
It was a great weekend with friends, the bus ran great. I can’t wait for more camping this year and to attend this camp out next year
Now that the divorce is over and the bus is paid off, I’m ready for this years work. Other than the gear box rebuild, I would like to get the water out of the cab. I found a source for 3/16 laminated glass for the windshield right in the neighborhood. Torstenson Glass so I’ll be contacting them this week. I also need new seals for the air distribution box, which I can get at Bustoration. AND . . . . Looks like they also have the 6 to 12v wiper motor conversion kit. Definitely will be getting that….. Finally rubbers for the passenger vent and fix the bar and vent latch on the drivers side and I believe I will be in business…
Been a long time since I have added anything to the blog. In fact it was Taylor’s birthday. Things have not been well and thought that Kermit would need to be sold. Between the divorce and lack of employment I was really concerned. The divorce came through without me having to sell the old boy. The employment situation isn’t much better, but the house has sold. Could be I’ll be living in the bus this summer. That might not be all bad. I have money from selling the house, so I could live for a few years. Kermit is once again in Michigan in the barn for the winter. The engine is still back firing with the new vacuum can. I did find a leak between the manifold and the carb that may be causing the problem. I’ll get that fixed before I get on the road. This year if I can raise the money, I would like to get the RGB rebuilt and wipers. I’ll finish with the windows and Dad will help me fix the interior and hopefully the windshield. Not sure how much Ill use it, I will try to make another OVT function. These are great people and realy enjoyed the company.
This guy is nutz! Although it is kinda cool. I might be silly enough to try that.
I got the bus over to Dave Ellis on Monday and he got the electrical NAILED! He soldered the ground in the back and ran a new wire. He also adjusted the valves, which #2 AND #4 were sticking, adj the clutch, and brakes. He also gave me a laundry list of things that need to be resolved: Rear wheel cylinder is leaking, Need new axle boots and fill the RGB, Trans fluid, tightened the fan belt before vacation. I need the king pins on the passenger side and oil pressure switch. RGB and Sterring box maintenance Here is a pict out side his garage with a Ghia that matches the bus . . . . Too bad the camera on my phone blows 😦