Volkswagen T1 – an icon from Brazil

Brief history of Volkswagen T1 

The official name of the Volkswagen T1 is actually “Type 2” because it was introduced as the second car model of the Volkswagen in 1950. Ben Pon, a Dutch Volkswagen importer, is known as a father of the Volkswagen T1. He visited the Wolfsburg Volkswagen factory in 1946 with the intention to purchase Volkswagens Beetles for further import to The Netherlands. There he saw a chassis called “Plattenwagen” and realized that it would have a far greater potential. He drew a first sketch on 23 April 1947 of what will later be called the Volkswagen T1.  Production of the VW T1 started later in 1950. The first two Volkswagen T1´s were imported to Brazil the very same year by Brasmotor, a company that represented Volkswagen in the country.

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Import Volkswagen T1 busen

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Volkswagen T1 restoration

We restore Volkswagen T1 buses in our garage near the city of São Paulo. With ample access to spare parts we turn your old Kombi T1 into a jewell again.

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Volkswagen Brasil

Volkswagen do Brasil Ltda was established in 1953 as a subsidiary arm of Volkswagen Group. At that time the Brazilian government prohibited the import of fully built-up vehicles. The first Volkswagen factory was located in Ipiranga São Paulo. This was pure an assembly facility. The car kits of Volkswagen Beetle (Fusca in Portugese) and Volkswagen T1 (named Kombi for the Brazilian market) were imported from Germany and manually assembled in the Volkswagen factory. In first two years the production reached 2268 Fuscas and 552 Kombis T1. In 1957 Volkswagen opened a full cycle factory in a new factory in São Bernardo do Campo in the state of São Paulo. Years later São Bernardo do Campo became the automotive industry capital of Brazil. The first Volkswagen T1´s were produced in September 1957, two years later in 1959 Volkswagen Beetle Fusca was also added to the conveyor of São Bernardo do Campo factory.

The VW T1 became incredibly popular in Brazil just in no time. Just look at these specifications:

  • Simple and robust mechanics
  • Huge cargo space and bearing capacity for up to one ton
  • Low price and cheap maintenance. 

There was no other vehicle on the market that could have provided the same.

Modifications VW T1

The first Kombis were equipped with 1,2 liter air-cooled boxer engine and maximum power of 36 horsepower. The transmission was four-speed, with the first gear not synchronized. The Volkswagen had semaphores on the sides that indicated the turn, 6 volts electrical system and carrying capacity was 840 kg.

In 1960 the Volkswagen T1 became a star at the first ever São Paulo Motor Show. The same year a six-door Kombi version was introduced that was offered for taxi drivers and hotels shuttles.

More changes to the Volkswagen T1 came in 1960. The new turn indicators were introduced at the front panels and the semaphores were removed.  In 1962 – 1966, the VW Kombi received some further improvements including new and larger taillights. Also Volkswagen Kombi received additional windows in the rear corners.

In 1967 the Volkswagen T1 Kombi received new 1,500 cylinder engine with 44 horsepower and most modern 12V electrical system. The wheels size was reduced from 15 inch rims to 14 inch that has increased the safety and stability on the road. This variation of the Volkswagen T1 Kombi continued to be produced up until the end of 1975 when the major facelift was introduced and the Kombi received the front of the German Clipper model. The production continued almost without major changes up until 1996 when major body and motor changes were introduced. 

Production of Kombis in Brazil

Volkswagen Kombis produced between 1976 and 1996 are commonly referred as T1,5 indicating that it had most of the technical features from the VW T1 and face and tail lights from the German T2 Clipper. Overall about 1 550 000 Volkswagen Kombi T1 Bullies and T2 were produced in Brazil from 1957 until the end of production in 2013. 

Many of the Volkswagen Kombis are still on the road and seem to be willing to stay there for decade. The Kombi has deserved nation wide love and appreciation of Brazilians. The classic Volkswagen T1 Kombi Bully has a cute Brazilian nickname “Corujinha” which is translated as small owl.

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