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The Microbus is coming back!
Part 2 -- Get ready for a trip back to the '60s: The VW Microbus is slated to make a 2005 comeback.
August 27, 2002: 11:56 AM EDT
By Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNN/Money Staff writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Volkswagen announced this summer that it will introduce a modernized version of the German carmaker's pre-minivan minivan in 2005. The original went into production in the early 1950s but really made a splash in the fab 1960s.

Even though I was still a child when my family ditched ours, I well remember the Microbus experience. (To read more about my family's Microbus memories, click here.)

VW Microbus concept  
VW Microbus concept

The new Microbus, introduced as a concept vehicle in January 2001, has a few features that should make it a big improvement over the earlier versions. The concept Microbus, for example, features a 230 horsepower V6 engine and a 5-speed automatic with Tiptronic clutchless shifting.

Then there's the onboard movie multiplex theater. (This is something I definitely would have remembered if we'd had it in the Microbus my family bought in the 1960s when I was a kid.) The concept has a 7-inch screen in the center console and four other 8-inch screens in the backs of the first and second-row seats. The middle seats can swivel for a better view of a DVD/game console screen. Folded down, the back of the DVD/game screen functions as a small table.

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The seats on the concept are covered in "Cotton White" nappa leather. The second row is a pair of bucket seats that swivel 180 degrees, while the third row is a bench with two contoured seats. Both the second and third rows can be moved around on a set of rails.

The floor is covered with a semitransparent rubber mat that's easily removed so it can be hosed off. Underneath that is an aluminum floor. The combination adds a glow to the inside of the Microbus concept. Our old bus also had removable rubber flooring and, underneath that, the floor was semitransparent thanks to a material called rust.

The interior of VW Microbus concept  
The interior of VW Microbus concept. The lever is the Tiptronic shifter.

Instead of opening outward, as the doors on our old Microbus did, the concept vehicle has powered sliding doors. And the door handles retract via remote control so they stick out only when you need them.

It remains to be seen, of course, which of the fancy features from the concept vehicle will make it to the final production version. Not everything the VW design team in California came up with likely will be practical for a real production vehicle. If anyone's asking, I'd like see the old round headlights comeback. It just not a Microbus without them. The DVD screen that doubles as a snack tray is a nice touch, though.  Top of page

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