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VW Kombi killed off | 20 reasons we loved it

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    If you are in the market for a real classic, buy a Kombi now. The price will only rise. Photo Gallery

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We farewell Volkswagen's iconic Kombi as the final one rolls off the production line.

galleryAnd so it goes. Another automobile icon fades from view because of 21st century safety regulations. After 64 years of production, the final Volkswagen Kombi will roll off the production line today -- this one in Brazil where the more relaxed safety regulations allowed the Kombi to continue, and where they have been built for the past 56 years.

And it travelled a long way. The vehicle that came to symbolise the counter-culture around the globe started out as an idea on paper for the war ravaged VW to make some much needed money. The Kombi is now one of the few cars in the pantheon of true classics. More than any other automobile, the VW Kombi is an enduring image of the flower-power hippy era in the 1960s and of the wider surfing culture across the world.

Cheap, plentiful and able to carry big loads with ease it was an ideal vehicle for a newly mobile, baby boomer generation. The first series Kombi was released for sale in 1950, after its appearance at the November 1949 Geneva Motor Show. Its heritage goes back to when the British Army occupied and ran the VW factory in Wolfsburg, Germany, after the end of Second World War.

There are various versions of how the Kombi came to be, but the main facts are agreed. Needing a vehicle to move parts around the VW factory, the Army cobbled together a strengthened Beetle chassis, surrounded it with a utilitarian panels and created a small truck.

In 1947 a Dutch VW dealer, Ben Pons, saw these little trucks while visiting to the factory. He thought that with some improved body panels it would make a cheap, sturdy and light truck to be used in the rebuilding of the war torn Europe. He sketched a design for VW managers and went back to Holland.

Heinz Nordhoff, who was ex-Opel, and been installed by the Army to run VW, took up this idea and made it happen. The rest of the story is legend. Kombis have a strong fan base and devotes of the vehicle have their own language to describe the “buses”. Those built between 1950 and 1967, are known as split-window buses or 'splitties' because of the divided windscreen.

Those built after 1967 have a one piece screen and are known as the 'bay window' Kombis. Prices for early models continue to rise, across the world. In Australia models from the 1950s can run to $45,000 and above, particularly the 'barn door’ versions in good condition.

So if you are in the market for a real classic, buy a Kombi now. The price will only rise. Apart from their investment potential, we love the Kombi for many reasons.

Watch the Kombi last wishes video on our desktop site.

See our gallery for 20 of them.


 

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 9 comments

  • I am sure the price of a new Kombi Campmobile was close to $7000 during the 1970s. The latest models were in the showrooms at The House of David North Ryde. I looked at them several times, but they seemed overpriced to me. I found better value in a HQ 308 V8 GTS Holden ute at $4000 with a Freeway slide on camper at $1750 all new in 1972 at a total price $5750. This was the most versatile vehicle combination I have ever owned. The ute was used for building work during the week and camping on weekends/holidays. It was still legal to carry passengers in the camper in the early 70s. The ute with pump up air shocks had the power and payload capacity for 2 adults, 3 kids and to tow a 13 foot boat. The 4 berth camper with fridge, sink, water tank and table weighed 9 CWT.

    Brian Ridley of QLD Posted on 02 January 2014 1:07pm
  • That sad it was great VW model. VW & other German brand had good reputation

    Tossy Posted on 01 January 2014 7:09pm
  • how does it die today exactly? this is very old news carsguide

    Shane M Posted on 31 December 2013 11:25pm
  • i have a book called how to keep your volkswagen alive by john muir i have been told it is a collectors item my number is 0412 875107

    mick healey of raymond terrace Posted on 11 February 2013 8:57am
  • Sad that the factory is to close 2013,but the Kombie fever will live on. Have had 6 busses myself first one bought at $200 back in 1992 off a mate fell instantly in love with it,sadly to say have none now due to other life issues.But once bit its hard to get away from it,bought colloctor cars to keep passion going am looking now again after 10 yrs for a new splitt just cant help it got the love bug bite.

    chris connell of bowen qld Posted on 01 January 2013 10:33am
  • Never will cease to be the car that everyone looked at and said, 'Isn't she cute!'

    J. Noble of Battery Point Posted on 09 November 2012 4:54pm
  • My goodness and the VE Commodore is ancient after only 6 years of production. The just launched range of Opel's in Australia are also about 5 or 6 years on the market elsewhere in the world as they will be updated pretty quickly by Aus standards, within the next 12 to 18 months

    Mark of Australia Posted on 07 November 2012 10:14pm
  • 40 years ago, my first car was a split-window Kombi and I loved it, but had to sell it when I joined the Army. The same bloke who sold it to me bought it back because he couldn't find another one as good, even then. I wish I had another one.

    Stephen Gillard of Hobart Posted on 07 November 2012 10:06pm
  • A few errors in this story. The only 'Kombi' ending production is the old Brazilian 'T2c'; the current VW T5 continues on and is available at your local VW dealer. Some variations of the T5 are called 'Kombis' by VW Germany, but these are not sold in Australia. We did see the T5 'Kombi Beach' from 2003-09. The Brazilian T2c was not made for 63 years. Brazil made the T1 from 1954 to 1975, and the T1-and-a-half from 1975 to 1995. From 1995 to 2004 they made the T2c with the air-cooled engine, and from 2004 to now with the Polo-based watercooled engine. Volkswagen never used the term 'bay window' for the T2. It's a silly term invented by a UK writer in the 1990s. It's wrong becuase real bay windows are multi-sashed and multi-paned. VW T2s have panoramic windscreens, but that term isn't as kewl. And you didn't mention the more modern T3 Kombi, made from 1979 to 1992 (Germany) and until 2002 in South Africa. Or the front-engine T4 Kombi (1991-2003), the first 'modern' Kombi. And yes, current T5s are still VW Kombis! And the 'surfie hippy' image is recent. The biggest selling versions of the VW Kombi were the working versions, not the Microbus or Campmobile.

    Phil Matthews of Sydney Posted on 07 November 2012 8:16pm
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