(first posted 8/13/2013) No, this isn’t one of those old “how many college kids can jam into a VW” photo. It’s a factory publicity shot of a twelve-passenger high-density configuration that I just stumbled into. And I’m guessing that it was shot either in Brazil or Mexico, because that’s where these were built and sold for jitney service. In fact, T2 buses with this configuration are still being used; I saw a few of them in recent trips to Mexico. And some folks have qualms about climbing aboard a modern transit bus?
Update: after seeing a number of “Deadliest Roads” documentaries, I have a better appreciation for why these were created. And I’m sure there were more than 12 in some of these.
It may fit 12 people, but at least half of them will have to get out and push each time they encounter a hill.
Father Zeke yelled to his son “Get out and push it up the Hill Billy”
Therefore Volkswagen, and only Volkswagen, is to blame for the slang term Hillbilly.
You aren’t far off, but it would probably take about 9 of them to push. My best friend’s folks were “odd car” people for about 10 years, and a VW bus was one of the last in a long line of weirdo cars. It seemed like they got more and more gutless with each one. The VW was, without a doubt, the worst. We were driving in the mountains in Pennsylvania about 1969, I think, and going uphill was a total joke. First gear and about 25 was it. Cars were passing us like we were standing still, people were laughing at us as they went by, and someone threw an ice cream cone at us. Downhill was my friend’s dad putting it in 2nd and engine braking down and then dropping to first and crawling up the next grade. The VW was replaced with a Chevelle wagon, shit brown, and they had that car until it was totally rotted out and you could see the street through the floor. The last “odd” car was the Gremlin his mom had and that he drove until he got the first of his rolling wrecks, a 1960 Ford Galaxie 500, infamous for expiring driving uphill in PA about 6 months after her bought it. It never came back to Toledo. His next car was a Triumph TR-4A. On a good day, it ran on 3 cylinders. It had about 200 pounds of bondo on it.
Those middle-row seats look like 50s kitchen chairs.
Well, at least all of them will be quickly out of their misery when the high center of gravity causes a rollover on the first turn. Yikes!
12 is also the top speed!
The weight of 12 people must come close to the maximum capacity of the bus.
There were versions of the Transporter that had a higher load capacity than the standard micro-bus, usually used for cargo transport.
People balk when I tell them that the 1500 Buses had a 1 ton load capacity.
It might not do it quickly but it will do it.
However no matter what you say, believe me, people still think that VW Buses top out around 40 mph and it takes 2 minutes to get there.
I’ve driven people in mine, cruising nicely at 65mph and yet they still make stupid comments.
That configuration being driven simply around town as a taxi, which is likely the case, it would work perfectly fine.
+1. I hauled over a ton of engine blocks and other automotive detritus to the scrapyard in my ’71, and did it on I-285 halfway around Atlanta. No, I didn’t win the drag race, but once it got going, I was keeping up with traffic in the right lane (left lane traffic on the west side of Atlanta can easily top 90mph).
Unloaded, it did 65-70 no sweat.
The efficiency of the mid-sixties 1500 T2 is amazing. Payload was almost equal to the unladen weight of 2447 lb. The ’65 Kombi had a payload of 2117 lb. Twelve 150 lb adults equals 1800 lbs. No problem. While the engine may have been much smaller and less powerful, the brakes exceeded my ’66 Dodge A-100 van.
All that’s missing is the rolling side door.
I used to cart 10 people in a 68 VW van for work on the cotton all flat country out there but the van did it, glacial acceleration but once up to 55/60 mph it would stay there, 1600 twinport engine so more power than a splitter but not much more.
What sharply dressed people! Imagine what 12 of today’s creatures would look like piled in a van. Boobs hangin out, cha-cha’s showing, hairy arm-pitted slobs in muscle shirts, smelly unkempt beasts. …Let’s be honest, 12 of today’s best wouldn’t even fit in the damn thing.
I’ve seen all of these things whilst shopping at Wal-Mart!
Exactly why I don’t shop there (one of the many reasons actually). Going for a year…sounded like a good New Year’s resolution to me! Couldn’t be happier.
I’ve seen all of these things on one person whilst shopping at Wal-Mart!
There, fixed it for ya! 😉
The seating configuration I remember being in use for Mexico City peseros (in 1992) was, I think, that the second row was put in rear facing, with an additional bench along the driver’s side between the two benches, and possibly a jump seat. Instead of double doors they had a sliding door that was mechanically rigged up so that it could be opened and closed by the driver. Of course, I assume that the peseros didn’t use factory seating.
Power was never an issue around town, as these were mostly running neighborhood routes that would connect up with the nearest metro station.
At that time some drivers were still running the same routes with early 1970s Caprices that would carry five passengers – or more if the driver judged they could be squeezed in.
DougB, I was in Mexico City at the same time and have similar recollections. In fact, one of the pesero drivers was mad at me for slamming the rolling side door. I hadn’t noticed the cord, and my friend hadn’t told me. Super cheap and constantly going by, so wait time was minimal. I appreciated their utility. At the same time, 1992, the new pesero was being introduced, a small bus similar to a small air port shuttle vehicle. I didn’t take any photos, but they were designed to carry more people, and pollute less. I just returned from Mexico City 5 days ago. No more VW microbus peseros. I saw a few microbuses that were private cars, some air cooled (rarely), mostly liquid cooled. The collectivos are mostly Nissan Tsuru cars, and most of the cabs as well. The moto taxis are the last mile, 3 wheel trikes. All four strokes, two strokes were not seen at all!
Lots of snark in these comments. Rather disrespectful.
As for the photo, if shot in Mexico, reflects a rather white and taller crowd. Most of the people riding the peseros are darker and shorter.
Interesting photo. Every so often I check on VW to see where they are on bringing back the minibus after they did that concept vehicle awhile back. I would definitely be interested, it’s about the only minivan that is halfway cool.
Back in the day people were smaller I guess. I can’t imagine that happening today with our current sized populace…
OTOH, there were a few ladies in that van I wouldn’t have minded sitting next to…
Just not today, they’d all be in their 70’s and 80’s!
“Brahahrhafmaramabrarahah……please stand clear of the doors….bing….bong!”
The later vw T3, or Vanagon/Transporter could actually be configured as a 15 seater, 4 rows; 4,4,4 and 3 in the front. Could not find a pic, but it’s out there as I’ve seen it and ridden in one in the army way back.
VW also had a smaller van called the Fridolin that was used for the postal service in Switzerland and Germany. The regular VW Transporter was too tall and the Bug and Squareback too short. So they decided to produce something a little like our old postal service Jeep . I think they should have produced more and made them available to the public. A flat VW 412 engine instead of the familiar Beatle engine would have provided more cargo space. Then stick a more modern VW 412 front end and windshield for better styling.
Another view of the Fridolin. Note the Samba style rear windows.
Another old interesting truck was the VW Matador Tempo built from 1949 to 1952. Most were sold in Australia. It had a 25 horse bug engine behind the front seat, front wheel drive.
How would you like to have this Mexican built VW truck, front air cooled engine , front wheel drive.
I guess this is what inspired the “Clown Car”.
Only 12? Pfff. It looks like it could easily have a fifth row in the way-back for three more people. Kids, anyway…
A factory publicity shot and not a happy face in the group. What a bunch of fun-lovers they seem to be.
Surely their facial expressions are in accord with all applicable provisions of the DIN standard for Appearance of Male and Female Persons in Photographs to be Used for Publicity Advertisements of Motor Vehicles Having More Than Three And Less Than Five Wheels.
Those are the faces of people coming to grips with the fact that they’re one fart away from meeting their maker… if someone decants it once the doors are closed. It’s not occasion to be smiling.
Having traveled with five other high school to college age males in an extended cab GMT400 pickup some years back, I have experienced this type of death more than once. On those occasions, only one person was smiling briefly before it was Game Over.
I know that the Buick GL8 minivan was available in China with a 4 row configuration, as was the Kia Carnival, as pictured. I have a Sedona of the same platform. The second row in my van is generous with the legroom, and the third row isn’t bad, and it’s placement is set to allow it to fully stow in the floor. I wonder if the 4 row keeps that or has to move that row further back. This pic doesn’t seem to say for sure, but it appears that row 3 in the 4 row configuration uses the last row’s 3 point belts.
My VW Transporter T3 aka Vanagon was a ‘Sport 12’. At the time in the UK new cars were subject to ‘Special car tax’ and VAT, commercial vehicles to VAT only. 12 seaters were commercial vehicles, so avoided the extra tax.
My 1991 T3 was made in Austria as a 3 seater twin sliding door window van then fitted with 3 extra rows of 3 by Advanced in the UK. The interior was very bus like with carpeted doors and a glassfibre roof lining with individual reading lights and a pop up sun roof.
I bought it partially converted to a camper reduced to 5 seats.
Lots of spare change under the remaining seats and in the heaters as a reminder of it’s first life as a mini bus.
And yes, very slow.
I think 12 people should help in cross-winds. My impression is these VW buses (and I rode in a couple as a kid) were dangerous in windy weather.
Well, they also have no crush space for the driver.
Still, they performed their function reliably and slowly back in the day. I think the automotive world would be a richer place if VW or Fiat or Subaru or Toyota built vans like this, the only modification being a more modern engine with emissions controls (and being more modern, more power).
It will never happen of course.
One irony–the VW bus shape, any van, is quite optimal for an EV. Make the battery an bolted part of the floor pan, which not only makes it unobtrusive, but really lowers the center of gravity.
An EV van is really ideal for urban deliveries, provided the business has a place to park and charge it when it’s not running.
Hmm, 12 people. They might as well stay on flat ground. I once rode a friend’s Transporter both directions on The Grapevine. Just two of us. Funny as I can’t remember how long it took to make the climb either way. Maybe because I was so concerned about there being nothing in front of my legs the whole trip.
Some seriously lovely ladies.
Pre 1961 VW vans were all rated for 3/4 ton .
The boxy looking Mexican thing was called the “Ormiga” (means ant in Spanish) a friend of mine has one in North Hollywood .
All aif cooled VW’s are death traps, nevertheless they were sturdy vehicles .
Not exactly the Deluxe 23 window version! Here’s one that I snapped in Sao Paulo, Brazil
I can picture one of these being the perfect conveyance for relaxed, tourist-y type sightseeing excursions.
I’ve only ridden in a VW Bus one time. It was on a trip through town at night, and I was the only person besides the driver. I was in the front passenger seat, and mostly remember the odd sensation provided by going ’round corners, since the front wheels are right under your butt in that position.
Seeing Brazilian cars of this era (especially VWs) is like entering a time warp. I look as that van and think “late ’50s microbus”, except what’s the deal with those 1970s rear lights? But while the T1’s run in Germany (and U.S. exports) ended in 1967, it continued through 1996 in Brazil. From the rear 3/4 view it looks familiar, but walk around to the front and you’ll find this T1 turns into a T2 forward of the B pillar. No wonder they’re often referred to as a T1.5.
Yes they were slow, pushing that much air, but if you had a 1500/1600 let alone later, they weren’t that bad. 36HP, yes, they were that bad. But I was able to tow with a VW bus, up the grapevine, without flooring it, (clutch troubles) towing another VW bus, at 30 MPH. What most of the trucks were doing at the time in the 70s.
But unfortunately we, including myself, we, in the US, expected to be able to regularly drive at freeway speeds, which was more than the poor things were designed or capable of, long term.
But I did always have this idea of splicing in the length of another cargo door, what, 2 feet or so? Looks like they beat me to it.
Living in Colorado – this vehicle does nothing but give me nightmares. It is a vehicle. It is supposed to get you places faster than you could walk. These things failed to do that.
While traveling across country several years ago, a report came across the radio that a dozen or so people were in a Ford Aerostar that rolled (gee I wonder why). Four were killed.
Unbelievably I found the very story here: https://www.recordnet.com/story/news/2005/06/19/all-12-in-crash-are/50673750007/
I guess seat belts weren’t even on the options list for the back seating area, what would you attach them to? This arrangement gives me the shivers. Good luck disembarking from this bus in stilettos..