R.I.P. VW Bus, Keep On Trucking in Automobile Heaven
Dec. 31, 2013 officially marks an end of an era: the last Volkswagen Bus will be manufactured. The vehicle, officially called the Transporter, Kombi or Microbus, is currently manufactured only in Brazil and is being pulled off the market for not meeting modern safety regulations that require air bags and anti-lock braking systems. Volkswagen stated it cannot change their production to satisfy these requirements, and therefore will halt production all together. For the last few buses being made, Volkswagen is giving decorating them in the classic design some adding special features like such as mp3 and USB compatibility.
The VW bus is 63 years old, making it the oldest automobile model in history still being manufactured. The design as we know it today was first made in 1950. After Germany stopped producing the car in 1979, and Mexico ceased production in 1994, Brazil became the only country to continuously manufacture the bus. While products of the past are constantly being pulled off the market, the VW bus has remained timeless.
Known for its psychedelic colors and spacious size for various "recreational activities," the bus's design is a cultural icon of the hippie movement of the 1960s and 1970s. It is linked to Bob Dylan, the Beach Boys, and to facilitating the founding of Apple as Steve Jobs allegedly sold his minibus for a circuit board during the construction of his first computer. The VW bus has become a cultural icon beyond the era of flower children. Back to the Future, Cars, and all episodes of Scooby Doo have ensured kids of all generations know just how iconic this car is.
Knowing its historical and cultural significance makes accepting the death of this VW icon a difficult task. But with 10 million VW buses produced globally, there certainly won't be a lack of them to see, drive, or purchase. However, this news definitely is a reminder of the quickly-changing times and the oh-so-sweet nostalgic past.