The Versatile Transporter
Before we leave the Transporter behind, and this section of the nag moves on to other VW oddities, here are a few more special models that have been produced on the type 2 frame over the years. The Transporter is certainly a jack of all trades, and master of many.
Merely a year after the introduction of the Type 2, in 1951 VW were considering a side opening mobile shop version of the Transporter though the official VW version would have to wait another 10 years to come to fruition.
To fill this gap in the market, firms produced non factory approved shop conversions » most of which were straight conversions of the low roof commercial van -a pain in the neck for those serving in them all day. Some high roof versions were also produced. The VW factory did build some commercial display vehicles, with a large side window to show off a company's wares. This was offered on a custom order basis only.
By 1961, VW finally got in on the act and let the famous firm of Westfalia (yes, the camper converters) to produce factor" approved mobile shops. These were produced from both low roof commercials and VW's newly introduced high roof van (see November 2000 Wheelspin). These were given the factory code M221 and proved very popular, if any body has a spare one » the club would like one - only joking.
Other firms also continued with shop conversions, as well as a number of one off private conversions of variable quality. The firm of Borco Hİlmes continued to produce mobile shop conversions into the eighties, finally producing models based on the third generation Transporter, the Type 25.
Crew Cabs and Pick-ups
The pick up was amongst the first options VW produced; allowing large loads to be carried on the back load area; with extra storage underneath the flat back. Crew Cabs, basically a Pickup with an larger cab ; seating up to six people, were not produced by VW until 1957. But as early as 1953 the German firm of Binz produced its own Crew Cabs; distinguishable by their suicide rear cab doors.
Another option offered by Binz was a long load carrier, a modified pick-up with a trailer attached. Long load carriers were also produced much later, based on the Type 25 pick-up.
One conversion of a bay window model created an open top sightseeing bus; built for a German TV show. When they had finished with it, Wolfsburg snapped it up for use as a factory tour bus. It had now retired to the Wolfsburg museum.
Another panoramic view conversion gave a spit window model a larger roof and a single large front windscreen. Built by the Stuttgart firm of Auwärter as a tourist bus. While not the prettiest conversion it did offer a good all round view.
Room With a View
Originally designed as a commercial large load box van, the Dutch firm of Kemperink's van had a longer wheelbase and a large boxy body built onto the rear, with large double doors and windows. Many were converted for use as a camper, somewhat boxy but a lot of room inside and yet more storage on the factory fitted roof rack.
The Bus Now Departing
Commute to work in true style; and possibly much faster than Virgin rail. Beilhack produced rail car conversion for the Deutsche Bahn (German state railway). They were given steel railway wheels and train controls in the cab, who needs a steering wheel when you are on rails. At least one still survives in a Berlin museum.