to the origins of the new ID. Buzz

“The world is divided into two categories: the winners and the losers. Inside each of you, no one excluded, at the very root of your being, there is a winner waiting to be awakened and unleashed for the world!”. It is one of the most well-known lines of Little Miss Sunshinea brilliant 2006 comedy starring Steve Carell, Toni Colette and Brian Cranston, whose events are closely linked to the history of legendary minibus produced by Volkswagen known as Transporter or Bulli.
Not just because of the adventures on the road of the bizarre family take place right on board a ramshackle and unmistakable Bulli (yellow-white) version T2 but also because the aforementioned phrase is well suited to the fate of the iconic van, born with the trappings of the loser, amid general skepticism, but then able, against all odds, to spread its wings and take flight, establishing itself as one of the most iconic vehicles of the last century.
From the moment the first model rolled off the assembly line to today (70 years of the Volkswagen Transporter) in fact, more than 9 million Transporter vans have invaded our streets.

At the origins of the Volkswagen T1

It all starts with a simple drawing, just sketched by the Dutch entrepreneur Ben Pon who was, in 1947, almost casually passing through the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg: “I am not presenting you a vehicle but a dream and on this dream Germany will return to have fun, to run and to grow”claimed the Volkswagen importer.

A design inspired by a truncated beetle that the workers used to move the goods inside the factory. The idea of ​​the moment, however, was very popular and the design, after having made the rounds of the desks of all the major executives of the company, became reality – thanks to its ease of construction – in just two years. There platform was the same as the Beetle, a car from which it also borrowed the engine, a 1.1-liter air-cooled boxer 4-cylinder engine with 25 HP of power. Thus was born the first vehicle of the Transporter family, the T1, for all “Bulli”, which in three years will sell 20,000 vehicles, a lot for a devastated country.
This strange name is the contraction of the terms Bus and Lieferwagen (van for the delivery of goods), to which an “L” was added for phonetic reasons but also because it allowed the association with a German adjective particularly suitable for the vehicle in question, “bullig”, that is muscular / vigorous. The nickname was so popular that some Volkswagen executives thought of officially renaming the next vehicle, the T2, with this nickname. To prevent this will be only the laws on copyright: a company that produced tractors had in fact, unfortunately for the Casa del Popolo, already registered the name “Bully” for one of its models.

Not just Bulli though. The van is known by several other names such as Kombi (for the French), VW Panelvan (for the British), Campervan in South Africa, Westfalia or simply “Volkswagen van” in Italy.
The enormous initial success – thanks to its qualities of robustness and versatility that attract the attention of entrepreneurs for freight transport and to its unmistakable charm – causes demand to grow to such an extent that the Wolfsburg plant alone no longer appears able to sustain the frenetic pace of its production.
Since that time over 235 German cities have applied for host a new Volkswagen factory until Heinrich Nordhoff, first General Manager and then Chairman of the Board of Directors of Volkswagen, decides to opt for Hanover. A strategic choice given the proximity to a canal that connects the Reno to the Elbe and the presence of a railway station for freight transport.

The works began in the winter between 1954 and 1955 with 372 workers who already become 1,000 in the following March. We need to hurry to meet customer demand. After just 3 months, 2,000 workers, 28 cranes and 22 concrete mixers work continuously on the construction of the plant, mixing more than 5,000 cubic meters of cement every day.
Meanwhile, Volkswagen begins the training of 3,000 future employees who will handle the production of the Bulli (Transporter T1 Split) in the new factory in Hannover-Stocken. On March 8, 1956, just over a year after the start of the works, mass production began which in these 65 years has reached over 9 million vehicles in 6 generations.

A new light commercial vehicle

The T1, which was born as a light commercial vehicle in a post-war Germany, worker and occupied in a laborious and frenetic reconstruction, will be updated several times through increases in displacement and cavalry. It will thus go from 25 to 40 HP in 1959while it will reach the displacement of 1.5 liters and 50 HP in the latest upgrade, that of 1967.

Almost twenty years will pass when Ben Pon will return to visit Volkswagen: on this occasion, the loading floor will be removed to make room for as many windows and sofas. The German engineers appear even more skeptical than the first time, but again the T2 proved to be a great commercial success. In the States then the Bulli – nicknamed hippie van – achieves an even greater success than in the rest of the world, becoming the symbol of a generation which, having collected the subcultural values ​​of the Beat Generation of the 1920s, had raised its own culture against bourgeois logic and morals, which listened to psychedelic rock, it embraced the sexual revolution and promoted the use of drugs in order to explore and broaden the state of consciousness. It will be the so-called flower children who will bring this vehicle into history, quickly transforming it into Woodstock’s most popular vehiclethanks to the low cost and its unmistakable and colorful line (Initially available in only two colors, light blue or cream).

The graceful van was able to reach every place: from the crowded beaches of Los Angeles Venice Beach to the Swiss Alps, to admire which the German house launches an unusual model he renames Deluxe Microbus with Samba package. A 23-window Bulli – including eight skylights, two curved rear windows and a retractable skylight in addition to the windshield – that gave the nine passengers unprecedented brightness: a paradise for families, campers and members of the counterculture, perfect for savoring every glimpse of a breathtaking landscape.

Once the hippie wave has passed, the minibus begins to lose its shine and the Transporter slowly returns to being a simple medium-sized commercial van. Starting from the third series (1979 – 1990), its shapes gradually become more squared, in line with the stylistic features of the time. The Typ2 T3 adopts a front very similar to the first generation of the Golf, with a front grille that develops mainly in length, accommodating the two round headlights.

From the fourth series to the new ID. Electric buzz

A similar story for the fourth series, which went out of production in 2003. The shapes of the bodywork and headlights become more rounded, following the stylistic development that distinguishes the other models of the German house.

Starting from 2014, Volkswagen has on the list the sixth series of the Transporter, powered by a 2.0 TDI engine, combined with all-wheel drive (4Motion) and offered in various power cuts between 84 and 204 hp. Over the decades, the House has done nothing but adapt the development of the Transporter to that of the car models, borrowing from the approach and style.
All the versions after the seventies, while being decidedly more efficient from a mechanical point of view, gradually lost the charm of the first two models. At least until today. On 9 March 2022, in fact, Volkswagen, in the midst of the era of the electric transition, decided to do relive the spirit of the iconic minibus in the brand new ID. Buzzthe first fully electric light commercial vehicle from the Wolfsburg manufacturer, whose design is directly inspired by the legendary T2 (official the new Volkswagen ID. Electric buzz). With 82 kWh batteries that guarantee an autonomy of around 400 km and an engine capable of expressing 204 HP adds an enviable load capacity – 1,210 liters of minimum capacity – thus recovering not only the lines but also the operational vocation of the first historic van.

If externally the homage is to the sixties and seventies, the interiors are a promise of the future with the futuristic-looking dashboard, equipped with screens: one behind the steering wheel, the other an infotainment system with a 12-inch screen in a central position . Because the new Bulli not only wants to pay homage to his illustrious predecessors but, like them, to be an interpreter and protagonist of his times. We will see if it will truly be – not only in words but also in the face of the test of the market – at the height of the legendary Transporter, the longest-lived (as we would say today) van in the history of mobility of people and vehicles.

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I started to play with tech since middle school. Smart phones, laptops and gadgets are all about my life. Besides, I am also a big fan of Star War. May the force be with you!

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