In spite of its age, the Kombi is one of the best-selling commercial vans in Brazil but a law that will come into effect on January 1st, 2014, mandates that all new vehicles must be equipped with ABS brakes and front airbags. Surprisingly, Volkswagen managed to fit the van with an airbag but it has not found a cost-effective way to add ABS brakes.
To commemorate the Kombi’s illustrious production run, the last 600 examples built will be part of a special edition appropriately named “Last Edition” that will be sold exclusively in Brazil.
The Kombi Last Edition is characterized by a retro-inspired two-tone light blue and white paint job that is not available on regular vans. White 14-inch steel rims, whitewall tires, white bumpers on both ends and clear turn signals come standard while tinted windows and “56 years – Kombi Last Edition” stickers on the quarter panels and on the hatch finish off the look.
With room for up to nine passengers, the interior comes with blue cloth curtains on all windows and seats upholstered in two-tone blue and white vinyl upholstery. The dashboard is nearly identical to the one found in 1970s Buses but it packs a modern instrument cluster and a stereo with a USB port, Bluetooth connectivity and an auxiliary input. A metal plaque with the van’s serial number is affixed above the stereo.
Volkswagen has not made any modifications under the hood and the Last Edition is powered by a water-cooled 1.4-liter straight-four Flex engine that sends 80 horsepower and 91 lb-ft. of torque to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual transmission when running on ethanol. The power statistics drop slightly when the van is burning gasoline.
Scheduled to land in Brazilian showrooms before the end of the month, the Last Edition will start at 85,000 Brazilian Reais, a lofty sum that converts to roughly $36,000 / €27,000 / £23,000. For the sake of comparison, a regular Kombi retails for 46,000 Reais (approximately $19,500 / €14,500 / £12,500).
The Kombi’s demise will mark the first time since the 1930s that Volkswagen does not offer a rear-engined vehicle in its lineup.