On my way out of town yesterday, I spotted a very familiar profile in the traffic up ahead, and was able to catch up within a few blocks. I then LOL’d when I saw the “It is floored!” decal in the rear window.
The engine sounded rough as he took off from the traffic light, but I was surprised that I had to “floor it” myself to keep up as he merged onto I-74! The Type II went through a progression of air-cooled engines over the years: 1971 was the last year for the “upright” 57hp 1584cc Type I engine. 1972-73 used the 66hp 1679cc Type IV engine with dual carbs. 1974 went to a 68hp 1795cc engine with dual carbs, switching to electronic fuel injection for 1975. The 1976-79 models used the 72hp 1970cc EFI engine.
Note that the Type IV engine is the same one to be found under the hood of the Porsche 914 and 912E. While it’s tempting to say this bus is “Porsche-powered,” in reality, it’s the other way ’round: the Porsche’s were “VW-powered.”
There are few external clues to pin down the model year of the later Type IIs (the body barely changed after a few minor tweaks in the early 1970s)
, but I’m going to call it a 1977 based on the presence of front seat headrests introduced that year. Adam Simpson in the comments corrected me and indicates this is either a 1975 or 1976 model – I’ll go with ’76. This van is truly a survivor, as, with Illinois plates, it’s smack dab in the middle of the Salt Belt. My originally-from-Colorado ’71 was horribly rotted in the same places (you could throw a baby through the rust holes toward the end), and my sliding side door had to be opened carefully lest it fall right off the rotted track.
My exit arrived only too quickly, as did the end of “bay window” Type II sales in North America in 1979, when it was succeeded by the boxy Vanagon. Amazingly, the Type II continued production in Brazil until 2013, albeit with an 80hp 1.4l water-cooled inline four engine.
As I peeled off the highway, the Type II’s driver grinned as I shot him a quick thumbs up.
Goodbye, Pal, indeed.