It’s one of my (many) fantasies: fly one-way to Brazil, buy a brand new VW Kombi and drive it back. But alcohol is a little hard to come by here, especially since Oregon has state liquor stores. Actually, the Kombi’s 1.4 liter motor drinks gas too, but I would have preferred a diesel. Anyway, Brazil is celebrating fifty years of domestic production of the VW bus, and today seems to be Brazil day at TTAC. So if you share my fantasy, head to VW do Brasil’s site and their special Kombi 50 Anos site and check out the current Kombi and a disappointingly small gallery of vintage shots.
The curious thing about the Brazilian-built Kombi is that it was never quite exactly the same as the German one. The earliest version (above) had different passenger doors: two separate front-hinged doors instead of the usual barn-door arrangement.
And then for decades, the definitive Brazilian bus had the front end of the post-1968 German bus married to the back three-fourths of the original bus, with its many “Samba” windows. Maybe Brazilians were sliding-door averse? Or? I’m not really sure technically whether this bus is more like the older version, with swing axles and reduction gears on their ends, or if it has the later rear suspension. I’m sure one of our Brazilian friends will weigh in.
They might also weigh in on helping me understand its engine. Of course, the old air cooled motor is long gone, replaced by a multi-fuel (alcohol or gasoline) water-cooled 1.4 liter four. But its output is still deeply in 1968 territory: 78 hp, at an unbelievably low 4800 rpm. Can someone please explain that? That’s not much more than the old boxers of yore.
There it is, nestled in it little compartment, but now accessible from the top, not the back like buses I remember so well. Well, here’s to a long future for the VW Kombi. I guess I don’t really need to go that far anyway to get a VW bus, since Eugene is crawling with them.