You know the scene; you are walking along the foot path and some distance ahead, in the loose traffic stream moving in your direction, you notice a vehicle which looks a little unusual. As the vehicle moves into focus, you realise that it is a working example from a bygone motoring age. Your anticipation rises as the vehicle rolls closer and you become aware of fellow pedestrian’s noticing too. Smile enriched glances are exchanged between you, betraying an enjoyably shared nostalgic experience.
The vehicle which I am referring to and which so often triggers motoring nostalgia for me, is the VW Split Screen Van. Why this particular vehicle type should evoke such strong nostalgic feelings in me, I have yet to fully discover. Perhaps it could be the friendly appearance of the vehicle, created by the almost smiling v shaped pressing in its front panel? Perhaps it is the pleasantly angled and visored windscreens; or maybe the re-assuring purr of its trade mark VW 1200cc air cooled engine; who knows? However, I can tell you that any time I see one of these iconic vehicles and in particular, a well restored example; it awakens within me a sense of both awe and admiration for its designer, who incidentally was a Dutch man by the name of: Ben Pon (senior).
This trail blazing design light mini Van, variously named: Pick-up, Camper, Micro-bus, Kombi, Transporter, Hippie Bus (but in modern times: Splittie), first came into design existence circa 1948. Design – to assembly line was quick, with the first production model being launched at a Geneva Motor Show in 1949.
The VW T2 (to give it its manufacturer designation), began to revolutionise urban goods delivery to such an extent that in order to meet demand, Volkswagen had to extend production from Wolfsburg, its home manufacturing base, to a new purpose built facility, in Hanover.
Although starting life as a simple light delivery Van, this popular vehicle theme transmogrified over time, into a myriad of transport incarnations, and with a growing army of loyal devotees, was enthusiastically put to a wide variety of uses. Two example uses would be: matches and dispatches.
I take my hat off to both individual vintage motoring enthusiasts and vintage motor clubs, who undertake restoration projects on these fine examples of world motoring heritage. Time spent in home garages or small workshops; a few hours here or there over weekends and holidays, while patient families just about tolerate their loved ones oft times preoccupation, with matters mechanical. However, many projects reach fruition with very impressive results.
In the living museum of motoring history, there are clubs and groups world wide curating our valued heritage of VW T2’s. One such group in Ireland is the Irish Split Screen Van Club.
Next year has been designated in Ireland as the Year of the Gathering; with a call put forth from the Irish Nation to the world wide Irish, their families and friends to make a visit to the old country.
Here is an idea! How about making the trip in a Splittie? Better still, how interesting would it be if 32 Splitties (a convoy), were organised to make the journey?
With Office of Public Works (OPW) approval, why not designate Dublin’s magnificent Phoenix Park as a touring start point, or tour end convergence point? Let us know, via Twitter and Facebook, what date you will be cavalcading down the park’s grand Chesterfield Avenue and we will be at the road side, to give you a wave past version of 100,000 welcomes.
Do you own, or have you restored a VW T2 Splittie? I would love to hear about it. Why not leave a comment?
See you in 2013.
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