Ben Pon Barndoor and vintage VW show 2018

Ben Pon Show

Well, looks like I have another really cool road trip to look forward to! I’ve finally booked my tickets to the Ben Pon 2nd Barndoor Gathering and Vintage VW Show that takes place on the weekend of 19th-20th May 2018 in Amersfoort, the Netherlands.

Original Sketch of the VW camper van
Original Sketch of the VW camper van

‘The original idea for the T1 van or Volkswagen Type 2 came from the Dutch Volkswagen importer Ben Pon, who drew the first sketches of the van on April 23, 1947’ and Ben Pon lived and worked in Amersfoort in the Netherlands. The show takes place at the Wagenwerkplaats, the exact same spot where the trains came in from Germany to distribute all the VWs from Amersfoort to the VW dealers in the Netherlands. There is still a lot of VW history there and that’s why Amersfoort makes a great location to bring these Barndoor split buses together!

The Barndoor bus is the earliest incarnation of the Volkswagen bus.

The concept for the Type 2 is credited to Dutch Volkswagen importer Ben Pon. Pon visited Wolfsburg in 1946, intending to purchase Type 1s for import to Holland, where he saw an improvised parts-mover ‘Plattewagen’ and realized something better was possible using the stock Type 1 pan. He first sketched the van in a doodle dated April 23, 1947, proposing a payload of 690 kg (1,500 lb) and placing the driver at the very front. Production would have to wait, however, as the factory was at capacity producing the Type 1.

a vintage Volkswagen Plattenwagen at the VW museum in Wolfsburg, Germany
a vintage Volkswagen Plattenwagen at the VW museum in Wolfsburg, Germany

When capacity freed up a prototype known internally as Type 29 was produced in a short three months. The stock Type 1 pan proved to be too weak so the prototype used a ladder chassis with unit-body construction. Coincidentally the wheelbase was the same as the Type 1’s. Engineers reused the reduction gear from the Type 81, enabling the 1.5-ton van to use a 25 hp (19 kW) flat four engine.

early prototype Barndoor bus
early prototype Barndoor bus

Although the aerodynamics of the first prototypes were poor (with an initial drag coefficient of 0.75), engineers used the wind tunnel at the Technical University of Braunschweig to optimize the design. Simple changes such as splitting the windshield and roofline into a ‘vee’ helped the production Type 2 achieve a drag coefficient of 0.44, exceeding the Type 1’s 0.48.

Volkswagen’s new chief executive officer Heinz Nordhoff (appointed 1 January 1948) approved the van for production on 19 May 1949 and the first production model, now designated Type 2, rolled off the assembly line to debut 12 November. Only two models were offered: the Kombi (with two side windows and middle and rear seats that were easily removable by one person), and the Commercial. The Microbus was added in May 1950, joined by the Deluxe Microbus in June 1951. In all 9,541 Type 2s were produced in their first year of production.

super cool barndoor bus with its distinctive flush front peak above the front windows
super cool barndoor bus with its distinctive flush front peak above the front windows

An ambulance model was added in December 1951 which repositioned the fuel tank in front of the transaxle, put the spare tire behind the front seat, and added a tailgate ‘barndoor’ -style rear door. These features became standard on the Type 2 from 1955 to 1967. 11,805 Type 2s were built-in the 1951 model year. These were joined by a single-cab pickup in August 1952, and it changed the least of the Type 2s until all were heavily modified in 1968.

the much larger rear ‘Barndoor’ tailgate from where the name is derived
the much larger rear ‘Barndoor’ tailgate from where the name is derived

By the looks of it, there are going to be some awesome vintage VW’s of all types in attendance by the look of what is registered so far… 🙂 Plus as a bonus, there will be favourite Schwimmwagens playing in the water again. The show sounds ace, a bit like the one last year at Hessisch Oldendorf in Germany, which also takes place every four years. That show was fantastic, so I’m really looking forward to this one…

Surviving Barndoor buses are a bit of a ‘Holy Grail’ for many bus fans around the world because of their rarity. It’s amazing that so many still exist and are on the road (or in a museum like the Autostadt).

nice rear end – sign written 1950 VW Barndoor bus
nice rear end – sign written 1950 VW Barndoor bus

At this years show they are hoping to get around 100 Barndoor buses gathered in an attempt to create a new world record for the most gathered in one place. Convoys are coming from everywhere like Scandinavia, the UK and Spain to join in the fun!

Bad Ass… for those hardcore fans that love rocking early 1950’s Barndoor buses
Bad Ass… for those hardcore fans that love rocking early 1950’s Barndoor buses

Although the show is primarily for Barndoor buses, they’ll even let ‘newbies’ like me with my 64 bus in! It’s a full Vintage air cooled VW Show, so they also welcome:

  • VW Type 2 / Split buses up to 1967
  • VW Beetles, KdF-Wagen up to 1957
  • Type 128 and 166 VW Schwimmwagen
  • Type 82 VW Kübelwagen 1940 – 1945
  • Coachbuilt bodies on a VW chassis up to 1967
  • Karmann Ghia Type 14 up to 1959
  • Karmann Ghia Type 34 up to 1969
  • Type 3 1500 + 1500S up to 1965

So realistically, there should be something for everyone to have a look at!

from concourse to a survivor on the road, theres a Barndoor bus for everyone to love
from concourse to a survivor on the road, there’s a Barndoor bus for everyone to love

Best start getting my act together as the show starts in a few days time, its road trip time again! 🙂

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