VolkswagenBUS history page - 1 -

The story of the most
famous bus in the world *

How a Dutch entrepreneur conceived the transporter....

The year is 1947. The businessman Ben Pon travels from Amersfoort in the Netherlands to the German town Minden. He has a appointment with the British authorities just after world war II, the British had operational control of the Volkswagen factory. Pon likes to speak to them, because he believes in the quality of Volkswagen's product. His plan is to become the Dutch Volkswagen importer. Pon's visit produces results which were above expectations.

The sketch of Ben Pon at April 23th 1947.

At Wednesday 23rd of April has Ben Pon at meeting with the British. He talks through his ideas about the import of Volkswagens in the Netherlands. But this a special day, as he does something else. He takes his notebook and he makes a drawing of a oblong transport vehicle. As matter of fact it is not more then a soapbox on wheels, in front, the cab and in the back, the engine. How his conversation ends with the British nobody knows. But one thing is for sure. For his time, 1947, his idea is revolutionary. It is brilliantly simple, a large cargo space in a small area. According to Pon, the vehicle has a weight of 750 kilos and the with the cargo being easily 750 kilos as well. Ponīs based his design on the so-called Plattenwagen. A primitive vehicle, the Plattenwagen looks like a push bike with a Moped engine. The Volkswagen engineers had designed it for internal factory transportation at the Volkswagen plant. Like the Plattenwagen his design must be built on the chassis of a beetle.



The Plattenwagen

To minimize air resistance.

The 2 first prototypes of the Volkswagen Transporter, above-mentioned as "Typ 29" ** at first, are developed by the designers at Volkswagen. These cabins ( A and B ) are rectangular and have no curvature at all. A scale model of both cabins ( A and B) is tested at the wind tunnel of the technical high school at Braunschweig. The results were disappointing. But at last the high school receives Pon's proposal: A well curved cabin ( C ), His futuristic aerodynamic shape was a dynamic step forward. At last, the cabin developed at the high school at Braunschweig is used for the definitive prototype. (C) (See cabin C) (See cabin C) This is the final prototype.

**("Typ 29" is Germans for Type 29)

A blueprint for the future.

One of the first sketches, design of the Transporter (side- and overhead views). This design is of the rectangular cabin.

At first, Pon's brilliant idea is left alone. But not for long. A year later ( Ben Pon and his brother Wijnand became the first official Volkswagen-importers of the world) Pon received a message from Volkswagen . Heinrich Nordhoff, the new chief of Volkswagen, and the technical manager Alfred Haesner, had decided to developed Ben Ponīs idea. Heinrich Nordhoff and Alfred Haesner consent to the development of Typ 29. And so Ben Pon became the inventor of the Volkswagen Transporter. His simple design of a transport-van is the blueprint for the future. Until 1990 his design can be seen in all Volkswagen Transporters.

Full speed ahead..

Volkswagen is rushing, in November of 1948, to develop the Typ 29 transportwagen They are busy drawing, welding and bolting. After about one year, the two cabins are finished. They resemble each other, in that they are angular of pieces of welded tin. The cabins have no curvature at all. This is due to limitations in the manufacturing capabilities. It is a lot easier for the developers to work with curvatures than it is for the production facilities. The first scale model of Typ 29, both models, is tested in the wind tunnel of the technical high school at Braunschweig with poor results. The wind resistance is much to high, and there are unwanted aerodynamic side effects. But the high school of Braunschweig has a third proposal to offer. A ascetically pleasing rounded cab which tapers into a cargo area. The air resistance is about 40% better then the original design ! This final cabin is used for the full scale prototype.

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