Air-cooled VW History

VW Type 2 T2 Bay Window Bus

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In 1968, the second generation of the Type 2 was introduced. It was built in Germany until 1979, with production shifting to Mexico in 1980. Brazilian VW plant produces the Kombi since the 50´s until today. Models before 1971 are often called the T2a, while models after 1972 are called the T2b. This second-generation Type 2 lost its distinctive split front window (windshield) and was slightly larger and considerably heavier than its predecessor. Its common nicknames are Breadloaf and Bay-window, or Loaf and Bay for short. At 1.6 L and 48 DIN hp (35 kW), the engine was also slightly larger. The new model also did away with the swing axle rear suspension and transfer boxes previously used to raise ride height. Instead, half-shaft axles fitted with CV joints raised ride height without the wild changes in camber of the Beetle-based swing axle suspension. The updated Bus transaxle is usually sought after by off-road racers using air-cooled VW components.

VW T2b bay window camper van

The T2b was introduced by way of gradual change over three years. The 1971 Type 2 featured a new, 1.6 L engine with dual intake ports on each cylinder head and was rated at 50 DIN hp (37 kW). An important change came with the introduction of front disc brakes and new wheels with brake ventilation holes and flatter hubcaps. 1972's most prominent change was a bigger engine compartment to fit the larger 1.7 to 2.0 L engines from the VW Type 4, and a redesigned rear end which eliminated the removable rear apron. The air inlets were also enlarged to accommodate the increased cooling air needs of the larger engines. This all-new, larger engine is commonly called the Type 4 engine as opposed to the previous Type 1 engine first introduced in the Type 1 Beetle. This engine was called "Type 4" because it was originally designed for the Type 4 (411 and 412) automobiles. They used the "Type 1" engine from the Beetle with minor modifications such as rear mount provisions and different cooling shroud arrangements. The "Type 3 so called pancake" 1500 and later 1600 cc engines used in Type 3 notchback, fastback and squareback cars, plus the Type 34 Karmann Ghia, were never used in Type 2 vans or buses. The pancake nickname came from its low overall height due to mounting the cooling fan on the end of the crankshaft, a technique later employed for the Type 4 engines. European vans stuck with the upright fan Type 1 1600 engine even after the Type 4 motor became standard for US Type 2 export models.

VW T2 bay window bus, transporter (left) and deluxe (right)

In the Type 2, the VW Type 4 engine was an option for the 1972 model year onward. This engine was standard in models destined for the US and Canada. Only with the Type 4 engine did an automatic transmission become available for the first time in the 1973 model year. Both engines displaced 1.7 L, rated at 66 DIN hp (49 kW) with the manual transmission and 62 DIN hp (46 kW) with the automatic. The Type 4 engine was enlarged to 1.8 L and 68 DIN hp (50 kW) for the 1974 model year and again to 2.0 L and 70 DIN hp (52 kW) for the 1976 model year. The 1978 2.0 L now featured hydraulic lifters, eliminating the need to periodically adjust the valves as on earlier models. The 1975 and later U.S. model years received Bosch L-Jetronic electronic fuel injection as standard equipment; 1978 was the first year for electronic ignition, utilizing a hall effect sensor and digital controller, eliminating maintenance-requiring breaker points. As with all Transporter engines, the focus in development was not on power, but on low-end torque. The Type 4 engines were considerably more robust and durable than the Type 1 engines, particularly in transporter service. 1973 also saw the most noticeable exterior changes. The front turn indicators were squared off from the previous version and set higher in the front valence, above the headlights. Larger taillights were added to comply with U.S. lighting requirements as were larger bumpers. Crash safety improved greatly with this change due to a compressible structure behind the front bumper. This meant that the T2b was capable of meeting US safety standards for passenger cars of the time, though being vans they were not required to. The only thing that shrunk on the new model, or so it seemed, was the large and distinctive "VW" emblem on the front of the early model.

VW bay window bus, ambulance (left) and brasilian t2c (right)

Later model changes were primarily under the skin. By 1974, the T2 had gained its final shape. Very late in the T2's design life, during the late 1970s, the first prototypes of Type 2 vans with four wheel drive were built and tested. The T2 also has the distinction of being the basis for one of the most sought-after and valuable toys in US history. In 1969, Mattel introduced a new model to their line of Hot Wheels die-cast toy cars. This was the "Beach Bomb," a customized Type 2 complete with surfboards. The prototypes had the surfboards placed in the car, sticking out from the rear window. These "Rear Loaders" turned out to have an excessively high center of gravity, making them prone to tip over in banked curves, so the Beach Bomb was completely redesigned. The production model had its body sectioned to reduce height, a counter weight added to its base, and the surfboards were placed inside widened rear fenders to create a lower center of gravity, resulting in the nickname "Side Loader". Only a few dozen of the prototype "Rear Loaders" have survived, with only two of them painted in "Spectraflame Hot Pink". One of these Hot Pink Rearloaders was sold privately in 2000 for $72,000 while the other sold in 2004 for over $50,000.

The T2c, so called since it got a slightly raised roof - by about 10 cm - in the early 1990s, was built for the South American and Central American markets. The T2c was produced in Mexico until 1991* with the 1.6 L air-cooled Type 1 engine, and from 1991 until 1996 with water-cooled engines from the VW Golf (a VW/Audi 1.4L). Since 1997, the T2c has been built in Brazil with air-cooled engines for the Brazilian market and with water-cooled engines for the Mexican market, the latter easily identified by their large, black-coloured, front-mounted radiators. Since production of the original Beetle was halted in late 2003, the T2 remained the only Volkswagen model with the traditional air-cooled, rear-mounted boxer engine when the Brazilian model shifted to water-cooled on December 23, 2005. Previously, the watercooled T2c was sold in Mexico between 1991-2002. There was also a water-cooled Diesel version of the T2, which was manufactured from 1981 to 1985 in Brazil. The shift to water-cooled engines is in response to Brazil's emission laws which go into effect for 2006 and beyond. The new water-cooled engine will run on petrol as well as alcohol, which costs about 50% less than ordinary fuel in Brazil. The engine is an EA-111 1.4 8v Total Flex. 1390 cc, 78 hp (58 kW) on petrol, and 80 hp (60 kW) when run on ethanol.


bus, bay window