Dutch Volkswagen importer Ben Pon was an idea person. While touring the Wolfsburg VW plan in 1946 he envisioned what was to become the Volkswagen Microbus, a revolutionary vehicle born without equal and without an established market segment— the vehicle was a true market disruptor, and embodied the true spirit of innovation.
Microbus’ were an icon of the 1960’s hippie movement, of California surfer culture and served as camping vehicles, panel vans and ambulances. Simple in design, they became iconic in their stance.
Ben Pon first sketched the van in a doodle on April 23, 1947 and present his concept to VW in early 1948. The “Transporter” line went on sale to the general public in 1950. The next best thing on the European market at the time was the Morris J-Type van and Citroen's Type H van, both oddly shaped and utilitarian at best.
Two models were initially offered: the Kombi (with two side windows and middle and rear seats that were easily removable by one person), and the Commercial (panel van). The Microbus model was soon added, followed be an ambulance model in 1951.
Through the years there was the Samba bus, the flatbed truck, and the Westfalia. By the time the Vanagon came along, the bus had lost some of its quirkiness, but still served purpose.
And, to demonstrate how powerful a single idea can be, a 2014 version of the microbus is now being readied for a new generation---nearly 70 years after Ben Pon’s idea for the microbus was spawned in that Wolfsburg plant.
2014 Microbus Concept