love these old style vw camper vans … would be a dream of mine to travel around europe in one with my camera ;-)
The idea for the Type 2 is credited to Dutch Volkswagen importer Ben Pon, who drew the first sketches of the van in 1947. Although the aerodynamics of the first prototypes were poor, heavy optimization took place at the wind tunnel of the Technical University of Braunschweig. The wind tunnel work paid off, as the Type 2 was aerodynamically superior to the Beetle despite its slab-sided shape. Three years later, under the direction of Volkswagen’s new CEO Heinz Nordhoff, the first production model left the factory at Wolfsburg. It has similarities in concept to the 1920s Rumpler Tropfenwagen and 1930s Dymaxion car by Buckminster Fuller, neither of which reached production.
Unlike other rear-engine Volkswagens, which evolved constantly over time but never saw the introduction of all-new models, the Transporter not only evolved, but was completely revised periodically with variations referred to as versions "T1" to "T5," although only generations T1 to T3 (or T25 as it is called in Ireland and Great Britain) can be seen as directly related to the Beetle (see below for details).
The Type 2 was along with the 1947 Citroën H Van, among the first ‘forward control’ vans in which the driver was placed above the front wheels. As such, it started a trend in Europe, where the 1952 GM Bedford CA, 1960 BMC Morris J4 and 1960 Commer FC among others copied the concept. In the United States, the Corvair-based Chevrolet Corvan cargo van and Greenbrier passenger van went so far as to copy the Type 2’s rear-engine layout, using the Corvair’s horizontally-opposed, air-cooled engine for power. Except for the Greenbrier and various 1950s-70s Fiat minivans, the Type 2 remained unique in being rear-engined. This was a disadvantage for the early "barndoor" Panel Vans, which couldn’t easily be loaded from the rear due to the engine cover intruding on interior space, but generally advantageous in terms of traction and interior noise.