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VW van is pulled up after 63 years

World 1VOLKSWAGEN’S iconic camper van will no longer be produced after this year. And will not please aficionados, young and old alike. The stand-out vans carried hippies through the Sixties, hauled surfers in search of waves, and even serves as a workhorse across the developing world.

But the long journey of the VW Camper van is almost at an end.

The company will halt production in Brazil – the last country still producing the German “bus”, as it is known – because of new laws being introduced in the South American country.

It means all new vehicles produced must have air bags and anti-lock braking systems from next year.

So it signals the end of an incredible era, with more than 10 million VW Transporter vans made globally over the past 63 years.

After all those years, they remain popular because of their retro look and the “back-to-basics” driving experience they offer, compared with modern vans.

Damon Ristau, director of the documentary The Bus, which follows VW fanatics and their affections for the machine, said: “The van represents freedom.

“It has a magic and charm lacking in other vehicles. It’s about the open road, about bringing smiles to people’s faces when they see an old VW van rolling along.”

It is possible that no other motorised vehicle has driven itself deeper into American and European pop culture than the VW.

The camper van is known for its durability, and  also its tendency to break down.

Yet van lovers are adamant its failures simply serve to reinforce its charm. Because its engine is so simple, it’s easy to fix, and that imparts a deeper sense of ownership.

But in music circles, it is actually linked most closely to the Grateful Dead and the legion of touring fans who followed the rock group across the US in their mobile VW homes.

The late Steve Jobs is said to have sold his van in the Seventies to buy a circuit board as he built a computer that helped launch Apple.

The vehicle is also linked to the California surf scene because its cavernous interior is perfect for carrying boards.

We have our share of colourful, hippy-type vans here in South Tenerife. But in the poorer regions of Latin America and Africa, the vehicle doesn’t carry the same romantic appeal. In fact, it is seen as a workhorse in the main.

It is used in Brazil by the postal service to distribute mail, by the army to transport soldiers, and by funeral directors to carry bodies.

It also serves as a school bus for children, operates as a group taxi and delivers construction materials to building sites.

Brazilians even convert their vans into mobile food carts, setting up on street corners for working-class, lunch-time crowds.

In Brazil it is known as the “Kombi” – an abbreviation for the German Kombinationsfahrzeug which, loosely, translates as “cargo-passenger van”.

Production in Germany was halted in 1979 because the van no longer met European safety requirements.

That meant its future was dependent on operations in South America.

Now, sadly, new legislation has sounded the camper’s death knell!

 

Short URL: http://www.canarianweekly.com/?p=19760

Posted by on Sep 27 2013. Filed under World News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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