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6 August 2020

The oldest VW Kombi just turned 70!

By Matt CampbellMatt Campbell
  • Happy birthday! Happy birthday!
  • This particular vehicle is known as Miss Sofie, and it was restored from the tyres to the turret in 2000 - and it took until 2003 for the job to be completed. This particular vehicle is known as Miss Sofie, and it was restored from the tyres to the turret in 2000 - and it took until 2003 for the job to be completed.
  • VW's commercial arm, Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge, describes the T1 Bulli as the company's oldest "street-legal" bus. VW's commercial arm, Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge, describes the T1 Bulli as the company's oldest "street-legal" bus.
  • This 1950 T1 Kombi had a 1131cc four-cylinder air-cooled engine producing just 18kW. This 1950 T1 Kombi had a 1131cc four-cylinder air-cooled engine producing just 18kW.
  • The van is once again in the possession of the VW Group. The van is once again in the possession of the VW Group.

The oldest known VW Kombi has just celebrated seven decades on planet Earth - and it did so in style, with a birthday cake with seven sparkplugs as candles to mark the milestone.

The T1 Bulli from 1950 - which VW's commercial arm, Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge, describes as the company's oldest "street-legal" bus - is finished in 'dove blue', is configured in panel van spec, and has chassis number 20-1880, which was stamped on at the Wolfsburg plant all those years ago.

It was put to work as a delivery van in Hildesheim for decades, before being passed through a few sets of hands as part of private collections - now, it's part of VW's commercial vehicles classics collection.

This particular vehicle is known as Miss Sofie, and it was lovingly restored from the tyres to the turret in 2000 - and it took until 2003 for the job to be completed. To that point, it had covered less than 100,000km, and had spent more than a third of its life in storage. 

Then its owner, Tonny, took Miss Sofie out on the road to enjoy the European countryside, and 20,000km later, the van was once again in the possession of the VW Group, where the company aims to keep it for at least the next 70 years. 

If you've heard of these vans referred to as tin cans, here's why. This 1950 T1 Kombi had a 1131cc four-cylinder air-cooled engine producing just 18kW, a top speed of 80km/h, and it weighed just 990kg. Astoundingly the payload was 760kg, though you had no fear of reaching the claimed maximum velocity with that much mass on board.