The VW Microbus, also called the Transporter or just Bus. They were rear engine, four cylinder air cooled Volkswagens. Engines very similar to the Type I but squished down. Sometimes called pancake engines. Production went from the early 1950's to 1979.

They're not the safest vehicle in the world, considering there's about an inch of metal between you and the road. If you get in a head on collision, count on broken legs. However, they're remarkably fun to drive, as long as you don't have to parallel park.

The Volkswagen Type 2, a.k.a. Transporter, a.k.a. Microbus, a.k.a. Stationwagon, a.k.a. the Bus, a.k.a a lot of other names (some kind, some not so), was the brain child of Ben Pon, a Dutch business man from Amersfoort in the Netherlands.

In 1947, at the end of World War II, the Allies decided to keep the German Volkswagen factories operating to help boost the destroyed European economy. Ben Pon went to talk to them about importing VW's into the Netherlands, after the meeting he showed the British a simple drawing in his notebook of a multi-purpose van which he had made while touring the factory. It was based upon the chopped down Beetles that were used to move equipment and parts around the factory floor, and was to become the VW Type 2. His drawing was no more than a sketch of a box, with a cab up front, an engine in the rear, and a large loading bay in between the axles.

A year later Ben Pon (and his brother Wijnand) received a message from Volkswagen. Heinrich Nordhoff, the new chief of Volkswagen, and the technical manager Alfred Haesner, had decided to develop Ben Pon's idea further.

Type 2/T1

In November 1949, two years after Ben Pon's conceptual drawing, the Type 2 is introduced to the press, and in March 1950 the Type 2 is put into production.

The T1, also known as the Split Screen Bus, has the distinctive split window windscreen and swooping lines meeting at a V point in front. Produced from 1950 until the introduction of the T2 in 1968.

With a simple Type I air-cooled VW engine (1131cc, 1300cc, 1500cc, the same engine that powers the Beetle) mounted in the rear of the vehicle directly above the rear axle, and the cab (or cabin) at the front directly above the front axle, the Type 2 is evenly weight distributed front and rear and leaves a large cargo room between the axles. This large and low cargo space is the key to the bus's success and versatility.

The early T1's (pre 1955) had a large engine cover at the rear of the vehicle and so are often nicknamed the Barn Door Bus. This was to be gradually reduced in size through the vans various re-designs due to the engine bay becoming smaller.

Type 2/T1 Factory Configurations.

Type | Description       | Door                 | Hand Drive | Other
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 211 | Panel Van         | Cargo Right          | Left       |
 213 | Panel Van         | Cargo Left           | Left       |
 214 | Panel Van         | Cargo Left           | Right      |
 215 | Panel Van         | Cargo Right & Left   | Left       |
 216 | Panel Van         | Cargo Right & Left   | Right      |
 221 | Standard Microbus | Cargo Right          | Left       |
 223 | Standard Microbus | Cargo Left           | Left       |
 224 | Standard Microbus | Cargo Left           | Right      |
 225 | Standard Microbus | Cargo Right          | Left       | Sunroof
 228 | Standard Microbus | Cargo Right          | Right      | Sunroof
 231 | Kombi             | Cargo Right          | Left       |
 233 | Kombi             | Cargo Left           | Left       |
 234 | Kombi             | Cargo Left           | Right      |
 235 | Kombi             | Cargo Right          | Left       | Sunroof
 237 | Kombi             | Sliding Right        | Left       |
 238 | Kombi             | Sliding Left         | Right      |
 241 | Deluxe Microbus   | Cargo Doors Right    | Left       |
 244 | Deluxe Microbus   | Cargo Doors Left     | Right      |
 251 | Deluxe Microbus   | Cargo Doors Right    | Left       | 7-Seater
 261 | Single Cab Pickup | Tool Comp. Lid Right | Left       |
 263 | Single Cab Pickup | Tool Comp. Lid Left  | Left       |
 264 | Single Cab Pickup | Tool Comp. Lid Left  | Right      |
 265 | Double Cab Pickup | Cab Door Right       | Left       |
 267 | Double Cab Pickup | Cab Door Left        | Left       |
 268 | Double Cab Pickup | Cab Door Left        | Right      |
 271 | Ambulance         | Cargo Doors Right    | Left       |
 273 | Ambulance         | Cargo Doors Left     | Left       |
 274 | Ambulance         | Cargo Doors Left     | Right      |
 281 | Standard Microbus | Cargo Doors Right    | Left       | 7-Seater
 285 | Standard Microbus | Cargo Doors Right    | Left       | Sunroof

Cargo Door - Two doors, opening from the center outwards.
Sliding Door - A single door that pops outwards and then slides backwards towards the back of the vehicle.

Type 2/T2

Introduced in 1968, the T2 bus, a.k.a. the Bay Window Bus, a.k.a. the Panorama Bus, a.k.a. the Bread-Loaf bus, a.k.a. the Aardappelkist (Potato Box), has the more familiar and common box shape.

Most spotted these days are campers, often with the spare wheel mounted on the front and with a pop top to allow room for walking inside the bus when stopped.

In Europe the T2 was powered by the 1600cc Type I engine (same as the Type 1 Volkswagen), however T2's imported into the US got the larger and more powerful Type IV engine in 1972 (1700cc, 1800cc, 2.0L, a.k.a the pancake, originally designed for the Porsche 911).

Type 2/T2 Factory Configurations.

Type | Description       | Door                 | Hand Drive | Other
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 211 | Delivery Van      | Sliding Right        | Left       |
 214 | Delivery Van      | Sliding Left         | Right      |
 215 | Delivery Van      | Sliding Left & Right | Left       |
 216 | Delivery Van      | Sliding Left & Right | Right      |
 221 | Micro Bus         | Sliding Right        | Left       | 7/8/9 Seater
 224 | Micro Bus         | Sliding Left         | Right      | 8/9 Seater
 225 | Micro Bus         | Sliding Right        | Left       | 7/8/9 Seater
 228 | Micro Bus         | Sliding Left         | Right      | 8/9 Seater
 231 | Kombi             | Sliding Right        | Left       |
 234 | Kombi             | Sliding Left         | Right      |
 235 | Kombi             | Sliding Right        | Left       | Sunroof
 241 | Micro Bus Deluxe  |                      | Left       | 7/8/9 Seater
 244 | Micro Bus Deluxe  |                      | Right      | 8/9 Seater
 261 | Pick-up           | Luggage Comp. Right  | Left       |
 264 | Pick-up           | Luggage Comp. Left   | Right      |
 265 | Pick-up           | Passenger Right      | Left       | Double Cabin
 268 | Pick-up           | Passenger Left       | Right      | Double Cabin
 271 | Ambulance         | Cargo Right          | Left       |
 274 | Ambulance         | Cargo Left           | Right      |

There are also a wide number of conversions available, mainly vans and buses which have been converted for other uses. Danbury and Devon are two of the best known Type 2 converters.

Type 2/T2's were still being built in Mexico up to the end of 2001.

Built up until 1979 and the introduction of the T3.

Type 2/T3

The T3, a.k.a. the Vanagon, a.k.a. the Caravelle, a.k.a. the Brick, Box, or Wedge, was introduced in 1980 and has far more 80's styling than the T2 (a new styling for every decade).

The early Vanagons were powered by an air-cooled Type IV engine up until 1983, at which point it was switched to having the "wasserboxer" (water boxer) flat-4 water-cooled unit still mounted at the rear. Apart from a more sloping front windscreen and rear window, more modern headlight fittings (and later with square headlights instead of the more traditional round lights), and a large plastic air intake grill on the front, the Vanagon remains true to the now 30 years old configuration.

Type 2/T3 Factory Configurations.

Series | Year    | Description
-----------------------------------------------------
  U    | 1980-91 | Single-Cab Pickup (Pritschewagen)                
  V    | 1980-91 | Double-Cab Pickup (Dopplekabine)                
  W    | 1980-91 | Panel Van (no windows in sides)                
  X    | 1980-91 | Kombi                
  Y    | 1980-91 | Bus (Vanagon)                
  Z    | 1980-91 | Camper  

Type 2/T3's are still being made in South Africa.

Type 2/T4

In 1992, the Type 2/T4, a.k.a. the Eurovan, was introduced. With modern styling, the T4 bares very little resemblance to the original Type 2's. It is the new Beetle of Type 2's having a water cooled engine up front, it is more comparable to the Ford Transit in size and shape than the original Type 2. It comes in a variety of configurations (delivery van, camper, etc) like the original buses, however I'm not an expert and honestly know nothing more about them other than that they have a VW badge and the word Transporter written on the back.

Sources: www.vwbusstop.demon.nl, www.jbit.com/aircool.htm, www.type2.com

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