Want A Brand New 1968 VW Bus? Brazil Celebrates Fifty Years Of Building Kombis

Paul Niedermeyer
by Paul Niedermeyer
want a brand new 1968 vw bus brazil celebrates fifty years of building kombis

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.

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  • FromBrazil FromBrazil on Mar 07, 2010

    @Paul Niedermeyer> If I may, I wouldn't really use the word "celebrate". Maybe something like "mourn" would fit better. Please bear with me. You see, to me, this little annivesary is testiment to the failure this country has always been and in many ways still is. Sure, things have been improving of late, but for how long? Are we really out of the woods? Brazil is like that big kid in school who everyones thinks has huge potential, but always underachieves. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, but don't really believe the hype as most of the real, underlying problems (education, education, education) are basically ignored (did I mention education?). As to the doors and low output of the 1.4 engine, this is just typical VW do Brasil laziness and greed. Offer an inferior product, charge like crazy for it and call it good. It's not like the competition is any better. For Pete's sake, GM has a 1.4 L engine down here that produces more horsepower than VW's 1.6! Relatively speaking VW still think they are king of the hill down here. But at least nowadays more and more people are seeing it and just passing VW up altogether. Disclaimer: Don't hate VW per se, just don't like their behavir in our market. They just behave worse than most.

  • Trevor George Trevor George on Jul 28, 2010

    These comments make for very interesting reading for me, as I'm soon likely to invest in a "new" T2 camper, modified by Danbury in Bristol, UK - http://www.danburymotorcaravans.com - The safety comments don't bother me, of only having a thin bit of metal between me and the outside world, as I also have ridden a motorcycle all of my life, and there's far less protection there. I owned a T2 for ten years when our kids were young and it didn't even have "proper" safety belts for them. I think many people are becoming paranoid about safety in vehicles. Mostly if you drive carefully you are fine. Far more people are injured or killed in "sporty" cars than VW buses, especially considering the huge numbers of the VW T2's that are on the road. I had a test-drive of one of Danbury's brand-new water-cooled 1.4 litre campers, with lowered suspension, which had power-steering . . WOW !!! what a difference. Ok, so it wasn't quite as quick as my regular 2 litre Renault Scenic, but it zapped along holding it's own with other traffic. Agreed, the new radiator cover didn't appeal, but the dummy-wheel-cover which Danbury supply neatly hides that !! Maybe I stay away from the long Motorway drives in future, just like I used to with my old T2, so the wind-effect from large lorries isn't encountered quite so often. I'm looking forward to living in the past again, and enjoying life at a slower pace ;-)

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