The Road Show #28 – Car Show -Jack Mortimer – Duggystone Radio
Jack Mortimer April 19, 2020
This Show is part1 of the Interview with Practical Classic Magazine
The Show Below – hit the image listen on demand
The Narration for the show jack put a lot of effort into this repairing for his weekly show
Today’s dream car
interestingly enough isn’t a car at all. It’s actually a van… and a pickup truck… and a microbus… and a whole host of other configurations. It was built for over 60 years and was built, driven and loved the world over. Yes, today’s dream car is the Volkswagen Type 2. Now you might not know it as Type 2, and that’s fair enough. This was the name used internally by Volkswagen, referring to the fact that it was the company’s second vehicle – the first of course being the Beetle (known logically as the Type 1). We’ll get on to the millions of names the Type 2 had later on in the segment but first, we need to take a look at the Type 2’s development. Now, I’m sure you’re already sick of me talking about how post-war austerity shaped the motoring industry during the late 40s and 1950s, however in this case it really did. Germany was quite literally torn apart and in ruins. The economy was needed in order for the companies and businesses that remained to flourish once again, and that was why they needed a lightweight and cheap van more so than their employees needed a standard passenger car. Other manufacturers knew this too, the French had the Citroen H-Van in 1947, us British had the Bedford CA (or Dormobile) in 1952 and even the Soviets had the RAF 977 in 1958. But interestingly enough, the idea for a cheap Volkswagen van actually predates these. In 1946, Ben Pon visited Wolfsburg to buy Beetles which he could sell in his native Holland. Whilst he was there he came across the weird yet very wonderful Plattenwagen – literally translating to Platter car. This was a vehicle that essentially resembles a reverse pickup truck (with a bed at the front and a cabin overlooking it at the back. It was based on a Beetle and was used in the Volkswagen factory to deliver parts and components. Inspired by this Pon set about designing a Beetle based van, and by the following year, he had created his initial design- this time placing the driver right at the front and leaving the back for both the engine (after all, it’s a vintage Volkswagen) and a proposed payload of 690kg (that’s just over 1500lbs). Volkswagen was very approving of the little van, but after three months in production, it was quickly pulled due to the Beetle’s underpinnings being simply too weak. So it was back to the drawing board for Volkswagen and a new ladder-frame chassis was developed and put in place. Now, a ladder frame chassis is an old and simple design, but one that’s really effective. It consists of two beams that are linked together by several cross members. This creates a very strong platform for a vehicle and to this day is still widely used in the worlds of heavy goods vehicles. Anyway, for Volkswagen this idea was perfect for making their van more practical. They also added in the rear axle and transmission from the Kubelwagen, a light military vehicle that was produced in the Volkswagen factory which gave the van access to the flat-four engine that took up less space in the back. It also gave the van a whole 25bhp – as I said, the economy was much more important than speed during this era. Interestingly enough, Volkswagen used the Braunschweig wind tunnel in order to optimize the design of Type 2. This is actually where the infamous V shape at the front of early split-screen Volkswagens comes from, as doing so reduced the van’s drag coefficient (that’s the amount of air pushing it back as it moves) from 0.75 to 0.44. Amazingly, the Type 2 actually had a better drag coefficient than the smaller, shapelier and lower Beetle by the time they were finished. And so on the 12th of November 1949, the first Type 2 rattled of the production line. It was offered in two versions, the standard Kombi, essentially meaning station wagon, and the Commercial, which was a van. Needless to say, it was a hit – in the first 12 months of production Volkswagen sold over 9,500 Type 2’s and had also extended the range to include the Microbus which had three rows of seats and more doors for more practicality. 1951 saw Type 2 be converted into an ambulance – something that doesn’t sound so special in the world of vans but proved to be a significant development for the Volkswagen. By adding a tailgate to the back and moving the fuel tank and the spare tire to the front, it was easier to load patients into the van. These changes were so significant that by 1955 they were standard across the range. And really, for quite a few years from this point, Type 2 remained the same. Eventually, in 1962 there was another new model – the Transporter- which was a more heavy-duty version of the Commercial with wider wheels, a bigger payload of 1000kg (that’s 2200lbs) and, from the following year, the option of a 1.5 engine that made 51bhp. Other notable variants of the Volkswagen Type 2 in the split-screen form are the pickup, added in 1952, the Samba (a luxurious version of the Microbus which had up to 23 windows) and of course the ever famous Westfalia camping van – the variant which made the Volkswagen no stranger to campsites across the globe. Needless to say that over in America Type 2 was a major success, but it also served as a significant threat to their own motor industry. To cut a long story short, essentially after the war America started to farm more chickens and lots were exported to Europe. However, by the early 60s various European countries were opposed to the number of American chickens going into their countries and so placed a tariff on them. What’s that got to do with Volkswagen vans? Well, in 1964 President Johnson retaliated by adding a 25% tax on various European goods such as brandy, dextrin, potato starch, and light vans. And with the Volkswagen being the best seller that it was, it was probably the biggest affected product by this tax. Amazingly, this tax is still in place in America on small vans to this day. Anyway, German production of the split-screen Type 2 ended in 1967 but as I’m sure you’re aware that’s by no means the end of our story. It was replaced with what is known as the Bay Window version – something that relates to the curved, one piece windscreen that was a new fitting. The new design was also quite a bit heavier than the previous model, and so there was a new engine – a 1.6. Half-shaft axels and constant velocity joints replaced the conventional swing axel suspension and also made the Type 2 taller. And it was even upgraded to have 12 volt electrics. This version of Type 2 evolved more over time, with 1971 models featuring front disc brakes, 1972 models featuring bigger and higher up front indicators for better visibility and a bigger engine compartment which could accommodate (quite logically) bigger engines. On that note, you could now choose from a 1.7 or a 2.0 liter, both of which were taken from the Volkswagen Type 4 family car (known affectionately as pancake engines given the fact that they were particularly larger flat-fours. 1973 saw automatic transmission become available and by 1978 the two litre model now featured hydraulic valve lifters and electronic fuel injection as standard. So we can see that in the past 30 years, the Volkswagen Type 2 had gone from being a utilitarian and economic van that small businesses could depend on, to true driver’s vehicles that provided their passengers with relative comfort. However, that 30th year of production in Germany would also be the Type 2’s last. It was truly replaced that year by the significantly more modern T3 (or T25). But, that wasn’t actually the end of the Type 2 – oh no. Production continued in Argentina until 1986, in Mexico until 1994 and in Brazil, quite staggeringly until 2013. There were modifications made over there too. The roof was ever so slightly raised in the 1990s, for example, and in 2005 it received a water cooled engine for the first time in its life, and naturally a large grille on the front. Even though the Type 2 isn’t built anymore it’s still a relatively common sights pretty much everywhere. It’s got a great community too, and what better way to reflect that than by looking at the various names it’s been given everywhere. Here in Britain, lots of people will call it the Volkswagen Camper as lots of the ones that are still about have been converted into campervans, in America, its better known as the Bus (a name given to reflect the amount of people it can seat). In Portugal it’s called the Pao de Forma, meaning the loaf of bread, a reference to the van’s shape. In its native Germany, it’s called the Bully – something that came so popular that Volkswagen even began to call it that in their adverts. Anyway, if you want a Volkswagen Type 2 then you’re quite spoiled for choice as many are still around. The nice community also sweetens the deal.
So I’m sure you’ve heard the news about Sterling Moss, who passed away recently after battling a long fought illness. Well, instead of covering this week’s car news, I decided that it would be fitting to dedicate this time to the life of Sterling Moss. Stirling Craufurd Moss was born on the 17th of September 1929 in Kensington in London. Stirling’s father Alfred Moss, was a dentist by trade but also an amateur racing driver. He was quite successful too, coming 16th in the 12th Indianapolis 500 – a 500 mile race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that took place in 1924. Sterling’s mother Aileen Moss also had an interest in motorsport, competing in hill climbs in her Singer 9 roadster. However, Stirling Moss didn’t initially share this interest, being a talented horse rider instead. Moss’ first car was an Austin Seven which was given to him by his father at the age of 9. Now naturally he couldn’t drive it on the roads but Stirling would drive it around the fields near his home and so his interest in motorsport grew from there. Sadly, the outbreak of the Second World War put a hiatus on Stirling’s newfound hobby but by 1948 Moss got behind the wheel of his father’s BMW and entered his first race. Interestingly enough, despite everything, Alfred Moss didn’t necessarily want his son to be a full time racing driver, instead wanting him to follow his role as a dentist. However, it didn’t take long before Moss got his own race car, as that year he took his winnings from horse-riding and bought a new Cooper 500 formula three vehicle, which he used for hill climbs. In the late 1940s racing wasn’t a particularly big pastime given that petrol was strictly rationed and many racing venues no longer existed. To overcome these issues, Moss converted his car to run on methanol, a fuel that wasn’t rationed, and entered as many races as he possibly could. The sheer talent that he evidently had convinced his father that racing should be Stirling’s full time occupation. By 1950, Moss had his very own works team drive, consisting of three Formula Two cars that were created by John Heath and George Abecassis. His first major victory came in that year too, when he won the sports car race leading up to the RAC. Soon, Moss’ success was becoming known the world over. Enzo Ferrari approached him, asking him to race for Ferrari. However, in an unfortunate turn of events at Bari, the car meant for Moss was given to another driver. Embarrassed by this, Moss signed up with a whole host of other brands. In 1955 he won at Aintree with Mercedes, in ’56 he won twice more, this time with Maserati, and for 1957 he returned to his British roots, racing with Vandervell. Unfortunately, Moss’ decision to choose British caused him to loose several following races. Nevertheless, Moss was always seen as a famous face of motorsport and got on well with his peers. For instance, during the 1958 Portugal Grand Prix, Mike Hawthorn was accused of breaking the rules for restarting in the opposite direction after spinning his car (of course this was a time before action replays so it was hard to prove anything). However Moss, who witnessed the spinout, defended his rival allowing him to keep his points and meaning that Moss would go on to lose the event. Moss continued to win individual races, giving the substantially larger and wealthier competition a significant run for their money. However, all that would come to an end in 1962. During the Glover Trophy, Moss crashed his Lotus and entered a month-long coma and leaving the left half of his body paralysed for six months. This caused Moss to leave the world of Formula One however, he still showed his love of motorsport by becoming a commentator for ABC’s Wide World of Sports specifically for Formula One and NASCAR. He kept this role at the American television company until 1980 and even after this point continued to make various appearances in the commentary booth. But Moss most certainly wasn’t finished behind the wheel either. For two decades after his crash he would make various guest appearances at events, such as the 1974 London to Sahara to Munich world cup and the 1976 Bathurst 1000. Amazingly, the only reason that he stopped doing these one off appearances was because he re-entered the full time world of motorsport in 1980. Yes, Moss’ comeback was at the 1980 British Saloon Car Championship, racing a GTi engineering Audi where he stayed for another year. As well as this, Moss regularly raced in historic car events, typically in his own OSCA FS372, an Italian supercar of the 1950s. This was something Moss would go on to do until 2011 when he announced his true retirement whilst qualifying for the Le Mans Legends race at the age of 81. Nevertheless, Moss still kept in the public eye, siding with Lister Cars who built a replica of his very own car, circa 1958. It was a car endorsed by Moss personally and is notable for being the only car that’s made from magnesium. 10 Lister Knobbly Stirling Moss’ as they were known, were built for both road and race use, and each one was handed over by Moss himself. In his time behind the wheel, Moss competed in 529 races and would go on to win 212 of them. He was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, made a Knight Bachelor in 2000, received a Segrave Trophy in 2005, the FIA gold medal in 2006 and even had a car named after him, the Mercedes McLaren SLR Stirling Moss. It’s also widely believed that Moss was one of the first modern faces in the world of motorsport, creating his own brand for licensing purposes, writing his own book about racing, and not only aiming to race but to make appearances the world over and gain fame from such an exciting sport. Sadly, as we all now know, on the 12th of April 2020, Moss passed away at the age of 90. His wife, Lady Moss, claimed that he had raced one lap too many. It’s safe to say that the motoring world had lost a master of his trade and one that nobody will forget in a hurry.
On the Show
Practical Classics Magazine is produced by a team of enthusiast who share your passion for older cars. We have all bought, sold and restored more classics than we can remember and we continue to do so in the pages of the magazine – every four weeks.
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