Production of the last Volkswagen model line with an air-cooled engine will end in December.

Volkswagen do Brasil will then replace the air-cooled 1.6-litre boxer engine in its locally-made Kombi van with a more modern 1.4-litre water-cooled unit to meet tougher emissions laws.

The Brazilian unit still makes the Kombi Type 2, the second generation introduced in Germany in 1968 (and made there until 1976), with a slightly raised roof and sliding passenger side rear door. Until now, the model was offered only with an air-cooled 58hp 1.6 litre petrol engine, or a 67hp alcohol version.

The automaker hasn't detailed the replacement water-cooled engine but supplier sources told just-auto it will be a 1.4-litre flexfuel engine.

VW needs to change the engine to comply with new Brazilian emission rules for commercial vehicles. From this year, all the vehicles sold in the country must meet the new Proconve 5 emission standard (based on the EU's Euro 3 rules).

However, the air-cooled engine assembly line at VW's Anchieta plant, in São Bernardo do Campo city, São Paulo state, will still produce motors for several more months after the van's engine change to build stocks for the aftermarket.

To celebrate the end of its last air-cooled model, Volkswagen do Brasil is launching a special edition of 200 units of the Kombi, called "Série Prata" ("Silver Series").

The Kombi Série Prata has exclusive details such as silver paint, dark grey bumpers and headlight rings, darkened tail lights and special model decals on the tailgate.

Inside, the special edition has the inscription "Kombi Série Prata - Limited Edition" in the instrument display and unique upholstery.

This last-of-line model has the final-specification air-cooled 1.6-litre engine with multipoint electronic injection, similar to the unit used in the last Mexican-produced rear-engined VW Beetles.

VW has confirmed that the Kombi Type 2 will soldier on in Brazil with its new water-cooled engine.

The model line - in original Type 1 form - has been made here since 1957. It was the first VW made in the company's first plant in Brazil - Anchieta - and it is still being made there, 48 years later.

Between January and October this year Volkswagen Brazil sold 10,978 units, up 5.4% year on year.

There's life in the old dog yet.

Rogério Louro

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