Kombi, German and short for Kombinationskraftwagen. That’s a combination of a motor car and a (small) truck, perfectly capable of transporting both people and goods. And indeed, way into the eighties these were often the preferred choice for the self employed: their family car in the weekends, their commercial vehicle during working days.
I caught two old variants on the Kombi-theme last April. Two classic German wagons, in a perfect condition, both of them had their first registration in the Netherlands.
The oldest, a 1960 Borgward Isabella combi.
The Borgward is powered by a water-cooled 1.5 liter inline-4 engine, 60 DIN-hp.
The 1954-1961 Isabella was more expensive than comparable Opels and Fords, yet substantially cheaper than the contemporary Mercedes-Benz 180 (W 120-series). That perfectly reflected its market position, right inbetween the mainstream brands and god Benz.
Exactly ten years younger than the Borgward, this last gasp of the Beetle concept. The 1968-1974 Volkswagen Type 4 was initially marketed as the 411 and from 1972 onwards as the 412.
The Kombi, better known as the Variant, arrived in August 1969.
The power comes from an air-cooled 1.7 liter flat-4, 80 DIN-hp instead of 68 DIN-hp, because E for Einspritzung. (Bosch D-Jetronic fuel injection) And that shade of dark green was utterly Volkswagen!
Currently, the Kombi/Wagon is more popular than ever with a wide choice in the C-, D- and E-segment. But the local baker doesn’t deliver his bread any longer in any of them (successively an Opel Rekord D and E when he still did).
Curbside Classic: 1971 Volkswagen 411 – Searching For Its Niche (a Variant in dark green!)