Volkswagen’s boxy, air-cooled rear-engine Combi van is finally to go out of production in Mexico, Associated Press (AP) reported, adding that production in Brazil is also likely to end soon.
The van was first introduced in Germany in 1950 but the rear engined, air-cooled first and second series versions were eventually replaced in most markets by a rear engined version with water-cooled engine and finally by the Eurovan, an up-to-date design with front-mounted engine.
This relatively new model, AP says, will replace the old Combi in Mexico and Brazil.
AP said that the demise of the old (micro)bus has saddened “a lot of old hippies” in Mexico, as the local Volkswagen operation conceded with full-page newspaper ads that read “Adios, Combi” above a picture of a teary-eyed, ageing flower child in a tie-dye shirt.
“I think it’s gonna be a big surprise for Volkswagen fans that they were still making them down there,” Ryan Price, editor of the magazine VW Trends, told AP. “In the same sentence, I think there will be some remorse.”
AP said that, unlike in the U.S., multi-coloured Combis are rare in Mexico where the vehicle is prized for its sturdiness, seating capacity and high ground clearance — a must for dirt roads and mountain villages.
In Brazil, AP added, one of the last big customers for the Combi is the army, which uses them to move personnel.
Volkswagen said in a statement that the Eurovan would “offer the modernity, new technology and space that current customers demand,” AP reported.
AP added that the famous Volkswagen original Beetle, or “Bug”, will continue to be produced at VW’s Mexico plant.
Brazilian VW unions told AP that the company is uninterested in keeping old production lines going.
For the past five years, production has been split, with Mexico manufacturing the Combi’s engines and a Brazilian plant making the chassis, AP said, adding that it was unclear where Brazil would get the engines to continue making the model.
However, as the Combi engine is similar to the powerplant used in the rear-engined Beetle, Mexico seems a likely source.