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Volkswagen’s Microbus Finds End of the Road

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September 3, 2013 by   Leave a Comment

Iconic VW Minibus

It’s been known as the Microbus. The Minibus. The Transporter Kombi. The Volkswagen Type 2. Whatever you want to call it, the last one is rolling off the assembly line in Brazil this month, marking the end of an era.

America Online Autos reported that the VW Microbus, the forerunner of the modern minivan, was last sold in the U.S. in 1979. It was discontinued largely because the old design did not meet toughening safety and emissions standards.

Volkswagen kept building the vans in Brazil for developing markets where neither emissions nor safety standards are much of a problem, and the old design and tooling enabled VW to sell the van for many years at a reasonable price and profit. The Microbus was built for 63 consecutive years, and in Brazil for 57 years. But even in the South American market, standards have risen. VW is moving on.

The Last Edition will be sold only in Brazil for 85,000 Brazilian reals ($35,637) and comes with a certificate of authenticity from VW and a numbered plaque on the dashboard identifying it as one of the final 600.

The original Microbus was built on a modified platform from the original Volkswagen Beetle, the basic design of which dates back to the mid 1930s. Like the Beetle, the van’s engine was in the rear. The Microbus that ends production in Brazil, known as the T5, had been changed along the way with a new platform The Microbus originally came equipped with an air-cooled 1.2-liter flat-four engine mounted in the rear that produced 28 horsepower. But by 2005 it was running with a 1.4-liter water-cooled engine. The new inline-four makes 78 horsepower using gasoline and 80 horsepower using pure ethanol

As delightful as the design is, the Microbus’s biggest weaknesses has been safety. The driver and front-seat passenger sit out ahead of the front axle, and have no protection in a head-on collision. Still, they are collector’s items: A fully restored 1975 Microbus was recently offered on Ebay for $21,000.

The Microbus originally came equipped with an air-cooled 1.2-liter flat-four engine mounted in the rear that produced 28 horsepower. But by 2005 it was running with a 1.4-liter water-cooled engine. The new inline-four makes 78 horsepower using gasoline and 80 horsepower using pure ethanol

As delightful as the design is, the Microbus’s biggest weaknesses has been safety. The driver and front-seat passenger sit out ahead of the front axle, and have no protection in a head-on collision. Still, they are collector’s items: A fully restored 1975 Microbus was recently offered on Ebay for $21,000.

To read the entire article click here.

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