The VW transporter celebrates its 70th birthday. The car with the cute nickname “Bulli” is probably the only vehicle that police officers and smugglers, hippies and retirees alike love – worldwide.

VW Bulli Bus (Caroline Gutman)

Dream mobile

Dream weather, dream beach, dream vacation – and for relatively little money, because your own bed was always with you. And all of this was made possible by the VW Bulli. Of course there are now many motorhomes from different companies and for every budget. But the VW Bulli, whose start of production dates back to March 8, 1950, stands for a very special way of life, quasi as an “original motorhome”.

DW broadcast euromaxx 15.05 Bulli (DW)


Entire generations of globetrotters who value being individualists and not package tourists have literally traveled the world with the Volkswagen Transporter (here a model of the first series, a “T1”). Although – Bulli still cuts a fine figure on country roads too.

Motor mobile 37-19 new retransmission 4 (DW)

Pack donkey

Where the name “Bulli” comes from is not clear. Historians with little romanticism suspect that the name is due to the composite abbreviations of BUs and delivery vehicles. Oh well. But one thing is certain: At first the Bulli was not a recreational vehicle, but a true workhorse for all applications, as a box or platform truck, with or without a soft top and with all sorts of superstructures.

VW Bulli Flash Gallery (AP)

All-weather fighter

As a commercial vehicle, the Bulli was an essential vehicle for the German economic miracle of the 1950s and 60s. Not much more expensive than the “VW Type I” (the Beetle), the Bulli, internally called “Type II”, became an indispensable helper for many craftsmen. Here a T1 is fighting its way through the streets of Elmshorn near Hamburg, which was flooded after a storm in 1967.

DW Euromaxx - 70 years VW Bulli (DW)

Collector’s item

Today, the first models, the T1, are particularly sought-after objects of desire among classic car fans. This model from 1963 has been faithfully restored and is an eye-catcher at every lovers’ meeting. The split windscreen, the numerous small side and skylights, the two-tone paint and the deep cleavage with chrome trim are characteristic of the first series.

Bulli production ends in Brazil (cc / by / sa / Mr.choppers)

Law enforcement officers

The versatility, in particular, made the Bulli so popular. Hardly any (western) army could do without him. Fire departments used it as well as customs authorities and municipal companies. The photo of this T2 comes from the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo. The T2 was built in Brazil until 2013. Volkswagen is now building the sixth generation of the Bulli – or T6.

Germany - Hamburg customs authorities seize drug packages (picture-alliance / dpa / D. Reinardt)


By the way: not only customs officers drive bulli. Bad fingers and very bad boys are also used for the cult vice. In this T1, recognizable by the many small side windows, drug smugglers transported cocaine packages. Fortunately, the good guys got the upper hand here and took this photo for us.

VW Bulli Flash Gallery (AP)

Cult carriage

In 1969, this specimen, which at first (and also every subsequent one) looks disturbing, was used to drive music enthusiasts to the later legendary “Woodstock Festival”. Two myths came together: The cult car at the cult meeting of the flower power generation.

VW Bulli T1 in Schalke 04 livery on the occasion of 70 years of Hannover Messe (DW / H. Böhme)

Fair beauty

Bulli is also available in nice. Here is the proof: a special paint job for the 70th birthday. However, three years ago and not for the Bulli anniversary, but in 2017 for the anniversary of the Hanover Fair. This was the reason why this exceptionally tastefully painted Bulli was used in the shuttle service of the fair.

Picture gallery 20 years Haus der Geschichte in Bonn (DW / H. Mund)

Museum piece

The Bulli as a symbol for an entire era. It’s not just a journalist idea, so we have something to write about. No, not at all: We even have it academically! In Bonn’s “House of the History of the Federal Republic of Germany” there is a VW T1 and symbolizes the 1960s, the “Flower Power and Hippie Period”. If even museum curators say that, it must be true!

NAIAS Detroit 2017 Volkswagen (Volkswagen)

future vision

With the T6, the current version of the Bulli, which was built more than 13 million times, the story of the cuddly cult carriage could end. But there is hope: the man on the left is Herbert Diess, head of Volkswagen. Eer sees the future in e-mobility. Why not with a powered ID buzz? Maybe the Bulli still has a – emission-free – future.


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