When the classic VW bus was at the height of its popularity in the ’60s, ads bragged about the fact that it got 24 miles per gallon.
Fifty years later, that’s actually still a lot better than some similarly sized vans, but it isn’t exactly carbon neutral. Brazilian designer Eduardo Galvani decided to reinvent the hippie bus as something truly sustainable.
The Nimbus is just a concept, but Galvani has sketched out all of the details.
The design uses a micro-generator to keep an electric motor and battery powered as you drive, which Galvani claims can keep the van going for 200 miles.
Solar panels on the roof and regenerative brakes add extra energy.
Though Galvani was inspired by the shape of older vehicles, every aspect of the technology is new, down to a special self-cleaning paint so the van doesn’t have to go to the car wash.
“The main characteristics of the Nimbus are from the age we are living in now, a clear global transition between the old and the new economy, between the old and the new ways of ecological thinking and practices,” Galvani says.
The van is big–about 14 feet long, and taller and wider than the VW bus.
Because it’s made from carbon fiber, titanium, and other lightweight materials, the gas mileage is high. Galvani estimates that the car would get 181 miles to the gallon if built.
Galvani estimates that the car would get 181 miles to the gallon if built.
Inside, the van has room for five passengers and everything you might need for a modern road trip: Wi-fi, USB ports and outlets, a mini-fridge, and a tablet that lets passengers do everything from control lighting and temperature to find a map, videoconference, or browse the web. The car would even have its own operating system, Nimbus OS.
Galvani doesn’t have plans to make the Nimbus, but he hopes it can inspire car manufacturers to make a better van—one that could ultimately be used both as a personal vehicle or as greener form of public transit.
By the late ’60s, VW was in a legitimate full-on panic about replacing the Beetle: somehow, they never really managed to figure this out. The Beetle was just selling too well for too long to worry until it was almost too late. Eventually, the Golf saved the day, but there was a brief moment where it looked like VW’s salvation would be much weirder.
After VW bought NSU and Audi in the late ’60s, the much more conventional water-cooled, transverse front-engined Golf/Rabbit was derived from NSU/Audi designs and saved VW’s bacon, as well as set the company’s fundamental technical DNA to this day. But this was a sort of last-minute desperation plan. The goal of replacing the Beetle as VW’s core product went back much further, and almost culminated in a surprisingly sophisticated and unusual car, the EA266 prototype.
The EA266 was developed with assistance from a Porsche team led by Ferdinand Piëch — the same one who would later become Chairman of the Volkswagen group. The EA266 was a very novel and innovative little car. It broke with VW’s traditional tech in some of the same ways as the Golf would, using an inline, water-cooled engine, but unlike the Golf, which used the Mini and contemporary Fiats as templates for its design, the EA266 must have been looking at exotic sportscars, because it was mid-engined, with the drivetrain placed low and in the middle-rear of the car.
The 1588cc inline four was laid flat under the rear seat in a longitudinal configuration with the transaxle directly behind it. The cylinder head was on the left side of the car (facing forward), while the radiator, fan, and other various bits were to the right. The whole unit was sealed in its own little compartment under the rear seat, sort of prefiguring the way the Porsche Boxster/Cayman would tackle this issue in the future.
It’s said the design was inspired by a 1961 Porsche 911 prototype, the Porsche 695, which was a sort of mid-engined proto-911, with room for four inside and the engine under the rear passengers’ butts.
The engine made between 100-105 HP (reports vary). That was pretty damn good for the late 60s, when, for example, a Beetle was making about 53 HP, and most other small economy cars of the era weren’t doing much better.
A VW museum description of the car lists the goals of the development project as
– maximum interior dimensions
– minimum interior dimensions
– economical purchase price and operation
– interior design maximizing operational comfort and convenience
I’m not exactly sure if the seemingly contradictory “maximum/minimum” interior dimensions thing was a joke or just confusing, but they sure as hell figured out a way to deliver on that one. Just look at this cutaway of the car:1
Amphibious? Shoooooo looks it.
The protoype was a little bit bigger than the 1st-gen Golf that replaced it, but not by much. It has a bit of extra height to accommodate the engine without sacrificing interior room, but it’s overall still a small car.
So, it looks like it would have been very competitive from an interior and cargo-space standpoint, and an inline engine is likely a good bit cheaper than VW’s traditional flat engines (half the number of cylinder heads, you see). But what’s really exciting to think about are the performance and handling possibilities of the design.
VW was even thinking a great deal about all the possibilities of the design, coming up with sketches of an eventual van, sport coupe, and roadster versions. This would have been a very different — and to my way of thinking, much more exciting — modern VW.
What’s the story with this alternative logo? It’s as radical as the car which is pretty sweet and something I didn’t know about, so thanks.
It’s built like a tiny exotic sportscar — very low center of gravity, mid engine, surprisingly good power — this thing looks like it could have been a blast to drive. It’s reported to have a top speed of about 118 MPH, which was genuinely fast, especially for an economy car of the era, and the handling characteristics were said to be excellent, with McPherson struts in front and a multi-link rear.
Who said they were excellent? Well, a few journalists at the time did get to drive one of the 50 prototypes built, and they seemed to have loved what they drove. In fact, they loved driving the EA266 so much more than the later Golf prototypes they drove that VW allegedly had journalists sign non-publication agreements about the EA266 after the project was nixed.
And that brings up the big question: why was the EA266 cancelled? It was very far along in development, just about ready for production, when it was completely and summarily killed by VW’s new boss, fresh from VW Brasil, Rudolph Leiding. In fact, it was killed within three weeks of his taking office, and this was from a man who had always been a champion of novel VW-based variants like the Brasilia and the SP-2, both of which even had a front-end design named after him.
this guy [Leiding] then went on to demand that Porsche destroy all prototypes, which they did using, wait for it…Leopard 1 tanks of Porsche’s own design to crush them. every single drawing, photograph, note, and napkin with a sketch ordered to be burned…they even cut up Piëch’s prototype engine.
Holy crap. They brought out the tanks to get rid of these, and burned the freaking napkins. That’s pretty intense. It’s not really clear why Leiding felt the need to be so draconian about making an un-person of the EA266, but clearly he did. It may just have been the need for a new leader to make his own mark, or resentment at Porsche’s involvement.
Even ignoring the drama-queen destructive impulses of Leiding, there were likely more rational reasons VW could have decided against the EA266 path. The car was quite complex and sophisticated for what was to be a high-volume, entry-level car, maintenance access would likely have been tricky at best (removable rear seat, or no access, like a Boxster?), and there were persistent cooling and noise issues to deal with.12
Boxsters are actually quite easy to work on for most engine-in-car repairs, there’s a huge access panel behind the seats and the top moves into a service position, giving good access to the top of the engine.
Still, I would like to believe that VW could have solved these issues in time, and it’s very hard to shake the feeling that we were denied a very interesting and exciting take on a mass-market economy car. The idea of a practical, cheap, mid-engined hatchback — or, even better, a whole family of mid-engined cars — is just too appealing to ignore.
Oh well. Maybe we’ll get lucky and the Large Hadron collider will accidentally tear some space-time hole in the multiverse, and that hole will lead to a world like ours, but one where VW sparked a revolution in fun, cheap, mid-engined cars. And maybe also delicious sandwiches materialize in your hands on command. What a glorious world that would be.
Motorhomes fitted with rear travel seats, which are built to European Type Approval standards, are set to become safer across Europe when new legislation comes into force at the start of November
The new rules mean any manufacturer that builds to European Whole Vehicle Type Approval (EWVTA) standards – and most large British and European manufacturers do – must subject the backs of forward-facing rear seats to ‘pull stress tests’ that replicate the forces seats are subject to in a crash.
Motorhome manufacturers across Europe have been subjecting their seats to the tests in advance of the new rules coming into force. Front seats in motorhomes are already fully tested and approved. Now the only difference between the tests carried out on motorhome passenger seats and those for cars are those related to head restraints and the fittings for child seats.
Head restraints are currently not mandatory on rear seats of motorhomes and nor are Isofix anchorage points. Isofix are used to fasten childseats to the frame of a vehicle. Some motorhomes now have Isofix and many now come with rear seat head restraints, despite neither being mandatory. But, where head restraints and Isofix are fitted by manufacturers into motorhomes, they have to comply with the relevant European regulations concerning passenger vehicles.
The VW Camper T5 is the best all-round vehicle I’ve owned. Whenever I’m not testing a car or treating myself to one of the old brigade, the T5 becomes my daily driver
I spent longer hunting this down than any vehicle I can remember. I travelled far and wide to ascertain whether or not to go for the more classic and cute T2, which is gorgeous but not if you actually have to drive one anywhere. Or to forsake the nostalgia and go for modern cool and 100mph plus. This is how I got to the T5, though the story didn’t end there. Next was the decision to go new or used. I went for used to see if we got on before perhaps going bespoke for 2015. There are various power options, the 180bhp auto box being the dream. The best I could find in the two months I gave myself was a 140bhp manual with only 17,000 miles and one owner. The result was BUZ as he is named after his number plate suffix, and the best all-round vehicle I’ve owned. Whenever I’m not testing a car or treating myself to one of the old brigade, the T5 becomes my daily driver. From now on I will always have a T5 in my life and it may well always be the one we already have.
New from £36,238
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if you like the manoeuvrability of a campervan but aren’t sold on the restricted toilet facilities, then camper conversion specialist Leisuredrive has a model for you. The new Crusader CT is a camper based on the VW T5 SWB with a 2.0-litre engine and comes with metallic paint and air-con. It uses a traditional side kitchen layout but the ace in the hole is the slide-out electric cassette toilet. The toilet can be brought into play when needed, with privacy provided by dark, tinted side windows, and features an electrically operated flush which uses a heavy-duty electric pump. The toilet can even be used when the bed is down and in the sleeping position. When done, slide it back in out of the way. The key feature is the waste cassette empties from outside the camper so there’s no chance of unfortunate and smelly accidents inside.
Other features include a large, top-loading fridge which operates from the mains or 12v electric supply, Tambour wardrobe door access, window blanker to offside rear and it’s available in elevator or high-top formats. Base price is £39,999 onwards or you can supply your own VW T5 and have it converted, prices starting at £27,990.
Olympic champion Sally Gunnell, and TV presenter Matt Baker are among the main attractions at this year’s Caravan, Camping & Motorhome Show.
The start-of-season holiday showcase will feature a host of well-known personalities with a love of the great outdoors at the NEC on 17-22 February.
“It’s fantastic to have such well-known personalities coming to our show and I am sure they will be a hit with visitors of every age,” said Andrew Whalley, NCC Events managing director.
“All of them have a passion for the outdoors and visitors to our event will see how a caravan, motorhome or tent can be the enabler to getting outside as a family, enjoying quality time together and being active.”
The show is set to host more than 350 exhibitors, showcasing the latest season’s models from the major caravan and motorhome manufacturers to holiday inspiration and accessories.
Highlights will include the Learning Zone, cookery demonstrations, onsite campsite and activities including a show first ‘outdoor-style’ fashion show for kids and adults.
The show, formerly called the Caravan & Camping Show, changed its name in August 2014 as a result of consumer research and a strategic review.
The name change is designed to make the show all encompassing for visitors and better attract people to their specific areas of interest, organisers said.
The new show will be zoned accordingly, with distinct caravan, camping and motorhome areas, supported in pre-show activity and show content.
TV and radio personality Matt Baker will also make an appearance on opening day. He will play host to a range of activities on The Caravan Club Stand. If that wasn’t enough, professional surfer Melodie King from Cornwall, will appear throughout the event in the Expert’s Theatre.
Sally is better known for her golf medal winning run in the 400m hurdles at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. She is now seen as part of the BBC Sport team and has made appearances in numerous TV shows, A Question of Sport and Total Wipeout. Sally will appear on Wednesday 18 February.
Professional surfer Melodie King, is one of the sports rising stars, being only 17-years-old and currently placed fifth in the UK in the under 18s ladies division. Melodie will be present for the entire event. Two time BAFTA winning presenter, Matt Baker, will appear on Club Day, Tuesday 17 February.
A Volkswagen campervan thought to be the first and oldest in the UK is expected to sell for more than £75,000 at auction.
The vehicle is the first, and thought to be the only surviving, VW Type 2 Samba Microbus imported into the UK.
The right-hand drive bus, built at the original VW factory in Wolfsburg, was delivered new into the UK in November 1955 by John Colborne-Barber, the founder of the first ever VW dealership in the UK.
Sambas were never officially imported new into the UK, and as such ‘SGP 62’ is thought to be the only surviving example of the few Wolfsburg-built Type 2s in the country
Colborne-Baber’s long association with Volkswagen started as a result of John being approached by former army officer George La-Haye.
After the end of the Second World War, La-Haye, who was stationed in Germany, purchased three new Volkswagen Beetles, the last of which he returned to the UK with.
Colborne-Baber showed an immediate interest in the Beetle and made George an offer on a part-exchange for a Wolseley 6/80, which he accepted.
Colborne-Baber was so impressed with the Beetle he’d acquired, that he then approached Volkswagen in Germany and began importing Volkswagen vehicles into the UK in 1949
Mr Colborne-Barber, who started selling VWs after falling in love with the Beetle, imported the car from Wolfsburg and converted the interior so he could take it on family holidays.
He had the unmistakable motor fitted with a fridge and stove by renowned specialists Devon Conversions.
The car dealer held onto the campervan until the early 1960s. It then disappeared for the next 30 years until it was rediscovered in 1992.
It has been comprehensively restored to original specification with a few additional safety and convenience features, whilst retaining its completely original appearance.
The iconic camper will be sold at Silverstone Auctions’ Race Retro Sale, which takes place at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire on the 21st and 22nd of February.
It is being offered with an estimate of between £70,000 and £75,000.
Nick Whale, managing director of Silverstone Auctions, said: said: “This is a fantastic piece of Volkswagen history and as such we expect a lot of interest when it comes up for auction.
“These vehicles are hugely popular around the globe and collectors are now paying some incredibly sums for them.
“This is a beautiful and rare Samba Microbus, historically important in terms of its VW legacy in the UK. It’s ready to be appreciated and enjoyed and I hope the new owner will love it just as much as the Colborne family did.”
In 1992 ‘SGP 62’ was rediscovered in the West Country after 30 years in storage. It has been professionally restored over the last 18 months as a faithful reproduction of its condition as used by the Colborne-Baber family but with a few additional safety and convenience features whilst retaining its completely original appearance.
A new bespoke period-correct Devon interior, modelled on the design that was enjoyed by the Colborne family, was created by VW expert Kevin Morgan – including an correct Osokool fridge and Dudley stove.
These rare items were sourced specially for this bus and are in mint condition. The vehicle also comes with a certificate of authenticity from the Stiftung Auto Museum Volkswagen as well as a personal letter from the son of Mr Colborne-Baber regarding the bus.
It’s pretty cool to take off in a WeDubYou camper and explore the beaches and byways of the South of France or Spanish Catalonia – but to jump into a classic Combi you’ve designed yourself has to be beyond cool. Our competition gives you the chance to do exactly that – send us your boldest and quirkiest camper van design and we will choose one we love, customise one of our best campers, and send you off to enjoy admiring glances for a whole week in 2015, free of charge! We’ll even throw in up to four return flights from the UK to Bergerac or Girona.We’ve created a blank template of a camper van that you need to download and use for your design. Either scan your effort and send it to VWcomp@sunday-times.co.uk or post it to VW comp, C/O Sunday Times Travel (newspaper), News UK, 1 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9GF by 31st January 2015. We will choose the winner by the end of February, allowing you time to decide when in 2015 you’d like to meet and drive your special WeDubYou van.Download the template hereAlong with your entry, please send us:
Age (if under 18)
Terms and conditions
1. Open to United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland residents aged 18 or over only, except employees of the Promoter, News Corp UK & Ireland Limited, and their associated, affiliated or subsidiary companies, their families, agents or any other person(s) connected with the competition, including third party promotional partners2. Competition closes at 11.59 on 31st January 2015 (the “Closing Date”). Entries received after the Closing Date will not be counted.3. You may submit more than one entry.4. To enter you must paint, draw, crayon or photo-shop your creation (which can either be your own or a joint effort) before 31st January 2015. You may either send the design to VW comp, C/O Sunday Times Travel , News UK, 1 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9GF or download and print out this exterior plan, which can be decorated, scanned in and sent to email@example.com. Entries must be the original work of the author and not previously published. Entries which are or appear to be plagiarised will be disqualified. Entries (including but not limited to text and photographs) for this competition must not contain any content that is defamatory, libellous, racist, homophobic, derogatory, pornographic, obscene, sexist, illegal, and/or otherwise inappropriate. Entrants must not do anything illegal and/or dangerous and/or that would put themselves or others at any risk. You must get the prior consent of anyone who features in your entry.5. All entries must be received by 31st January 2015 and we will choose the winner by the end of February, allowing you time to decide when you’d like to meet and drive your special WeDubYou van.6. There will be one winner and one prize.7. The winner will be the entrant whose entry, in the opinion of the judges, demonstrates originality, flair, enthusiasm and creativity. There will be at least 1 independent judge on the judging panel.8. Winners will be notified by email or phone or using the other contact details provided by the winner within 28 days after the Closing Date. All reasonable endeavours will be made to contact the winner during the specified time. If a winner cannot be contacted or is not available, the Promoter reserves the right to re-draw another winner from the valid/correct entries that were received before the Closing Date.9. The prize is to see your design printed on one of the company’s fleet of Type 2 Combi vehicles, and four return flights to Bergerac or Girona for you and three friends.10. Prize is a holiday for four to Bergerac, France or Girona, Spain only. Prize includes use of a WeDubYou Type 2 Combi vehicle featuring your winning design for a one week period (Saturday to Saturday only). Prize includes return economy flights from UK airport to Bergerac or Girona. Exact flight date/time will be selected at prize provider’s discretion. Prize excludes all airport transfers. Winner and guests are responsible for getting to and from UK airport at their own expense. Subject to availability, prize must be booked in advance. Prize must be taken before 31 December 2015, subject to availability. Winner and his/her guest(s) must travel on same itinerary. All parts of prize must be used in conjunction with same booking. Winner and his/her guest(s) are solely responsible for ensuring they have valid travel documentation (e.g. passport/visa/visa waiver as may be required) and obtaining adequate travel insurance at their own expense. Unless expressly specified otherwise in these terms and conditions, holiday prize excludes food, drink, fuel for the van, spending money and any other costs connected to the prize.11. The prize is non-transferable and there are no cash alternatives to the prize in whole or in part.12. The winner and guest will be required to participate in reasonable publicity relating to this competition.13. The promoter of this competition is Times Newspapers Limited (publishers of The Times and The Sunday Times (the “Promoter”).14. General terms and conditions for competitions apply*.