Volkswagen's New European Camper Van Is An Old Brazilian Microbus
The majority of Volkswagen's European van range is hinged upon the 5th-generation Transporter, but there's one new offering that's literally a blast from the past. In fact, it's a brand-spanking new-old Microbus, imported directly from Brazil and modified to customers' tastes.
Although the T2 "bay window" Bus was replaced in Europe by the Vanagon in late 1979, it wasn't eradicated from the globe altogether. Other markets in Africa and South America continued to build the van. Presently, Volkswagen do Brasil is the lone keeper of the T2 flame; although the so-called Kombi now sports an updated dash panel, a water-cooled 1.4-liter I-4, and a radiator mounted up front, it's largely identical to the last T2s built in Germany decades ago.
European enthusiasts have been importing these Brazilian Buses for years, but this latest venture is somewhat interesting, seeing as VW's official Dutch distributor is getting in on the action. Better yet, the company also allows customers to customize the vehicle to their heart's content.
Features like a two-burner LP stove, refrigerator, wash basin, camping toilet, fold-down rear bench seat, and rotating front seats are standard, but buyers have quite a bit of say in how the completed Bus looks. VW adds a two-tone exterior paint scheme (almost all Brazilian Kombis are painted just white), and buyers will have their choices from more than 20 accent colors. Interior trim is a little more limited, but the fabric choices are still quite varied, and included retro plaid patterns as well. Perhaps more impressive are the cabinets -- gone are the tacky, dark units of old; in their place are modern birch fixtures with matching flooring.
Exterior options include a retro-shaped wooden luggage rack, sporty five-spoke wheels, lowering springs, chromed bumpers and exterior trim, and a faux spare tire cover, which does a great job of hiding the front radiator and making the new Bus look old.
Ordering a new-old T2 camper van isn't exactly cheap: pricing for the Kombis runs between 45,000 and 56,000 Euros, which is the equivalent of $62,000 to $77,000. Given that pricing -- not to mention it's very unlikely the Kombi could be made FMVSS-compliant -- don't expect these retro campers to head stateside anytime soon.