12 November: The first iconic Volkswagen Transporter was manufactured on this day in 1949 

We don’t often think of it, but automobile designs influence the way we see the life of a city. The T1 Volkswagen camper is a point in case, the concept of which is credited to a Dutch importer of Volkswagen “Beetles”. It’s a known-fact that anything destined to become iconic has to be characterised by a limited number of features: for example, one sole name and use. The T1, however, seems to defy these prerequisites, starting by its multiple names: it’s known as Bulli in Germany, VW Bus in America and Kombi in Brazil.

When the van was put on the market, the German company realised its versatility: a mobile box for transporting stuff and people. In the USA, on the other hand, to buy a Volkswagen camper stood for being on the other side of the fence vis-à-vis the big cars being churned out in Detroit. The anti-Vietnam hippie counterculture responded to those prestigious cars, which smacked of status symbols and white houses with fences, with a motto that could be summed up as ‘jam-packed, but happy’ (the VM Bus passengers perhaps being on their way to a concert or demo).

When all is said and done, identity is that which each person decides to sew on to their persona, using whatever features in their daily life. Thus, by throwing into our tribute to the T1 objects such as a bikini, a pair of sunglasses and a hair band, we’ve managed to reproduce the van’s familiar look. But it’s the Ban the Bomb/Peace Sign that looks perfectly at home where the Volkswagen logo would normally be. A happy (or hippie?) camouflage.

Name Day:
St Didacus