Throttle-back Thursday: 1977 Volkswagen Van first drive!


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‘fun to drive, in a sort of bizarre way’

This drive review of the 1977 Volkswagen Van comes from an interesting point in the vehicle’s lifecycle. Following its introduction in 1950, the quirky Type 2 “microbus” had come to be pigeonholed — in the bigger-is-better American market, at least — as an oddball van for equally oddball buyers. Die-hard Vanners wouldn’t touch it, and there were apparently one too many quirks for it to be a hit as a family-hauler.

But even as it gained a faithful, if small, following, especially in the Southwest, VW kept making steps forward. The Type 2 T2 was introduced in 1967, and it was further refined as the years went on: The Beetle motor was traded out for the more powerful 2.0-liter Type 4; the suspension was sorted; seats were swapped out for something better suited to providing humans with a tolerable level of comfort.
 

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This Dec. 11, 1977 Autoweek review notes that while there were still nits to be picked, like an anemic cabin heater and some dubious ergonomic decisions, it wasn’t enough to outweigh the numerous, significant improvements. So what did we think overall?

“We like it. Even if was a bad vehicle, the majority of vans are so depressing from an enthusiast’s view — which is to say our view — that the mileage alone would make it worth considering on the grounds that you don’t have fun driving vans anyway and you might as well save gas while you’re using it.

“But it’s not a bad vehicle. It’s even fun to drive, in a sort of bizarre way, and you can order up everything from a no-window, no-back seat stripper through the seven passenger we had to a nine-passenger high-roller.”

Check out the full review below.
 

Autoweek December 11, 1976 issue — Volkswagen Van drive review

(8.25 MB)

Graham Kozak


Graham Kozak

– Graham Kozak drove a 1951 Packard 200 sedan in high school because he wanted something that would be easy to find in a parking lot. He thinks all the things they’re doing with fuel injection and seatbelts these days are pretty nifty too. Read more »

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