End of the road for iconic Kombi Van

The iconic campervan has been in production since the 1950’s, but now, Volkswagen Brazil has announced that production of the ‘Kombi’ van will cease on the last day of 2013.

Originally produced on the floor lines of the company’s Hanover, Germany factory, the Volkswagen Transporter – as it is officially known – was later produced in Brazil from 1979 onwards.

More than 60 years later, the camper van is the longest-produced model in automotive history – says the company.

‘Kombi’ is a Brazilian abbreviation of the German “Kombinationsfahrzeug” which loosely translated means “cargo-passenger van.” While output of the kombi will halt on December 31, the company assures us there will still be many sightings of the van on our roads thanks to the car’s well-known  durability and because so many have been produced over the years –  more than 10 million in fact.

But one thing is for sure, the much loved kombi will almost certainly go on to live long in the imaginations of many. Deeply embedded in popular culture , the van has made an appearance on a number of famous album covers – from Bob Dylan to The Beach Boys – and Steve Jobs was even rumoured to have sold his 1970’s kombi to buy a circuit board that was used to build the first Apple computer.

Not to mention its long-standing connection with surfing scene – it’s long shape making it and ideal vehicle for transporting surfboards in.

The van does not hold the same romantic or cool appeal for Brazilian locals. In Sao Paulo the kombi is more often seen as a vehicle used for delivering mail or ushering soldiers across the country.

Nonetheless, Sao Paulo advertising executive Marcello Serpa, also the proud owner of a Kombi, says the van’s spirit will live on after its demise:

“The Kombi is part of Brazil’s cultural and emotional landscape,” he said, “and that explains the strong feelings of affection most people have for it,” Mr Serpa said.


Drive safe tips

Respect the conditions. If they’re bad and you don’t have to make that trip, then don’t.

The biggest thing is to make sure that your car has tyres suitable for the conditions. Don’t try and run on summer tyres in snowy conditions – it’s incredibly dangerous and not worth the risk unless you have chains.

If you’re making a downhill snow descent, it’s important that you are in low gear, and using the engine braking to slow and assist because as soon as you start to brake on a steep hill, the wheels will lock up and then you’ll slide even faster.

In snow and ice driving, you always need to know where your front wheels are pointing. Look ahead, predict the traffic and your surroundings.

Hand positioning is important: when cornering, hold the steering wheel in a quarter to three position. It’s balanced and there is always one hand going up and always one hand going down. And two hands as much as you can.

The height of the seat is important. You should easily be able to see over the steering wheel.

Bring the seat forward so that the leg bent when braking, even in full brake. If your leg is straight you’ve got no more leverage to push hard on your brakes.

The backrest should be nice and upright. Lying back might look cool but you’ll find that you might be steering the car with your whole body and your reaction is so much slower.

Advanced driving programmes like the Audi Ice Experience as well as at Taupo and Hampton Downs offer a chance to learn some extra skills and the limitations of a car.

Wear your seatbelt at all times.