The final VW T3 Microbus came off the production line, after being built at the Uitenhage plant for more than 20 years.
The final Volkswagen T3 Microbus came off the production line on Friday, after being built at the Uitenhage plant for more than 20 years.
It was a gold-painted Microbus 2,6i. So popular was the T3 Microbus that it became part of local motoring folklore – even the name "Kombi" has for many become a generic term for any minibus. More than 265 000 of these vehicles have been built in South Africa.
Managing Director Hans-Christian Maergner, speaking at a special function to mark the end of production of the T3 Microbus, said that it was with "a hint of sadness and nostalgia" that the T3 Microbus era had drawn to a close at Volkswagen South Africa.
"In many ways, the T3 Microbus holds a special place, not only in the hearts of the people, like our employees, who have worked on building this South African icon over the years, but also the many customers who have been fortunate enough to own one," said Maergner.
”We started building the Transporter, or T1, in Uitenhage in 1955, just four years after Beetle production started. Over the years it has transformed itself, from the T1 to the T2 in 1968, and finally to the T3 which appeared on the local market in 1980.
"More than any other South African transporter, it seems to have given expression to a lifestyle that is uniquely South African. All South Africans have some kind of bus story to share – whether it is going to a soccer or cricket match in a Microbus, taking a taxi ride or joining the family on holiday, we have all – on some occasion – had an opportunity to be part of the Microbus story.
"In the plant, things have been no different. Due to the perseverance, innovation and talent of all who have worked on the T3 Microbus, from operators, through the supervision and management, right through to design engineers, we have managed to keep the Microbus alive for so long – for many years holding its own against stiff competition in the marketplace.
"It is only due to declining economies of scale that we have to call it a day – and the decision by some key suppliers to discontinue producing certain of the components that we needed.
"I believe the proud tradition and values of the Microbus will live on, not only in our hearts, but also in the new generation imported front-wheel-drive T4 Caravelle (pictured above), a very worthy successor," said Maergner.
The last range on offer from Volkswagen consists of four models – including the Microbus 2,3i, Microbus 2,6i, Caravelle 2,6i and the special edition Microbus 2,6i Active (pictured right).
Will you miss ‘Gus’?