Even if you weren't aware that they were still being produced this century, an iconic piece of automotive history will cease production at the end of this year.
According to an AP report today, the Volkswagen van synonymous in the American psyche with hippies and surfing and good times will not be produced after Dec. 31. The vans are still being made in Brazil, but due to the country's new safety regulations mandating that every vehicle have airbags and anti-lock brakes starting in 2014, VW says it is not able to alter production to meet those guidelines.
The Volkswagen Transporter, known by several other iterations such as the Kombi and often known more affectionately as simply the VW "bus," was first introduced in Germany in 1950. Since 1957, over 1.5 million Transporters have been produced in Sao Paulo. Brazilians have used the vans for a variety of needs, including transporting mail, soldiers, schoolchildren, and even corpses.
Luckily for car aficionados and pop culture junkies, the legacy of the Transporter is sure to live on for years even after new models stop coming off the assembly line. There's even an entire documentary dedicated to the van named "The Bus," which was produced last year and directed by Damon Ristau of the Missoula, Mont.-based Firewater Film Company.
"The van represents freedom," Ristau said. "It has a magic and charm lacking in other vehicles. It's about the open road, about bringing smiles to peoples' faces when they see an old VW van rolling along."