It was after World War II that Ben Pon, a Dutch Volkswagen importer came up with the idea of creating a van based on the VW Beetle. It is believed that his inspiration came from visiting the VW factory in Wolfsburg, where he saw stripped down Beetles being used to transport parts around the factory.
Pon’s idea captured the attention of the Volkswagen chief executive Heinz Nordoff, in 1948. The following year, the VW van was born, released to the world at the Geneva Motor Show. This first VW van was known as a Type 2, the Type 1 being the original Beetle.
The simplicity and versatility of the VW van allowed it to be produced in many different forms for many different roles, these included milk floats, ambulances, flatbed pick-ups, delivery vans, buses and of course its most popular form as a camper van.
In 1967, VW Camper Vans evolved from having a split windscreen design (known as splitties) to having a bay window style windscreen, wind up windows and a top speed of 80mph. Later improvements included bigger engines (up to 2000cc) and better reliability – at one point VW gave watches away to owners who managed to do 100,000 miles!
VW Campers are still popular today (especially with the surfing community) and it is common to see models with customised paint jobs, lowered suspension and alloy wheels.