Volkswagen Retiring the VW Bus: A History of The Iconic Car By The Decade

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Volkswagen announced Monday that its iconic VW bus, first introduced in the 1950s, will cease production on Dec. 31. The company will halt manufacturing in Brazil (the last country to still make the cars) by the start of 2014, thanks to new laws that require all vehicles to have silly things like airbags and anti-lock brakes. But let's not linger on what the VW was missing. We're taking you on a journey back to what made it so iconic...

Saying Goodbye: A Look at the Volkswagen Bus Through The &ears

Volkswagen announced Monday that its iconic VW bus, first introduced in the 1950s, will cease production on Dec. 31. The company will halt manufacturing in Brazil (the last country to still make the cars) by the start of 2014, thanks to new laws that require all vehicles to have silly things like airbags and anti-lock brakes. But let's not linger on what the VW was missing. We're taking you on a journey back to what made it so iconic...

First Stop: The 1960s

Hippies introduced the world's first minivan into mainstream pop culture in the '60s, with brightly-painted buses featuring peace signs and anti-war slogans. The snazzy buses rolled around the country cropping up at rallies, concerts, and pretty much wherever hippies were hot-boxing.

It made history when it played a role in the Chicken War in the 1960s, which was legitimately a thing.

The 1970: Type 2 VW Van

With "the bus" fully ingrained in American culture, many continued to use the spacious vehicle as a makeshift RV for long road trips and beach adventures. Customization proved to be a selling point for VW buses, with vehicles doing double duty with advertising slapped on their sides and acting as rolling canvases covered in art. 

In Denmark, the Type 2 is referred to as "Rugbrød," which roughly translates to, um, "rye bread." Not diabetes. 

1980s-90s: The T3

The buses continued to prove a popular choice as young people who grew up seeing the vans on the road and playing with toy versions of the VW bus went out and bought their own. Surfers and college kids throughout the nation kept the spirit of the bus alive and well.

In 1985, an episode of Back To The Future even starred the bus as the vehicle of choice of Libyan terrorists. Definition of glamour.

The Movie Star

Between 1990 and now, Volkswagen brought out two more successors: the T-4, and the T-5. Still, the two didn't enjoy the prestige they had boasted in their heyday, and the vans didn't sell as well — in particular, the T-5 did very poorly. Probably because they now looked kinda boring.

But the open road wasn't the only place you could catch a VW bus. The popular vehicle made many appearances in televisions shows and movies throughout its lifetime including That 70's Show.

Finally, Today...

Today VW buses are still on the road, popping up at present day gatherings, like music festival Coachella. Good news: with so many still operating, you might be able to catch one for years to come.

Goodbye punch-buggy bus. We'll miss you.