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The Microbus, launched in 1954, has accounted for more than a million of these.
Its popularity has shown no signs of slackening, despite the fact that there have been few changes to the original concept.
It was really burnt - even the crankcase had started to melt.
Beneath the burnt exterior I managed to salvage a crankshaft, 4 conrods, camshaft, lifters, fly-wheel, cylinder heads and several pieces of tinware. As I work at a VW specialist shop I was able to pick up most of the other parts for practically no cost and I even got a crankcase for free - it just had a small hole in the top where it had lost a conrod but the local technical college welded it up for free.
I travel 1000 km a week and the Kombi is my sole means of transport, so any modifications I made to give me a substantial increase in power would still have to retain the same level of reliability as that of the standard engine.
Several other considerations came to mind:• Fuel economy mustn't suffer appreciably or my weekly fuel bill would skyrocket due to the high mileage I cover.• Low-speed driveability must be retained as I drive a lot in traffic - therefore no wild cam angles.• The motor mustn't be noisy inside or out, as I can't stand a lot of induction or exhaust noise on a long trip.
Prior to this Kombi I had owned 3 Beetles and 2 Fastbacks.
Twelve months ago, with 330,000 km up, I decided it was time to do something to upgrade the powerplant, mainly because of the Japanese vans, which are getting quicker all the time, beating me up hills.
Mazda rotary, Datsun 2-litre, V6 Capri - but I'd prefer to stay with something VW.2.
Fit a Porsche motor - not really feasible as parts price and availability, not to mention initial purchase price, make this an unattractive proposition.3.
But it improves with acquaintance and does have certain benefits over a car from a drivers point of view, including commanding vision which really helps your progress in traffic.
Features that make the Microbus so practical include the large side-opening door, a walkway between the front bucket seats and first rear bench seat, a rear hatchback and a big luggage compartment.
The flow-through ventilation system is ineffective for Australian conditions and the gear change takes a while to muster.