VW Camper Van Nears End Of The Road
It carried hippies through the 1960s, hauled surfers in search of waves and serves as a workhorse across the developing world, but the long journey of the Volkswagen (VW) Camper van is coming to an end.
The company is to cease production in Brazil - the last place in the world still producing the iconic "bus" as it is known - at the end of the year.
VW said it had decided it could not change production to meet new laws being imposed in the South American country which meant all new vehicles must have air bags and anti-lock braking systems from 2014.
While output will halt in Brazil, over 10 million Volkswagen Transporter vans were made globally over the past 63 years and they remain popular because of their retro look and the "back-to-basics" driving experience they offer compared with modern vans.
Damon Ristau, director of the documentary The Bus, which follows VW fanatics and their affections for the machine, said: "The van represents freedom.
"It has a magic and charm lacking in other vehicles. It's about the open road, about bringing smiles to people's faces when they see an old VW van rolling along."
Perhaps nothing with a motor has driven itself deeper into American and European pop culture than the VW, known for its durability - but also its tendency to break down.
Van lovers say its failures only reinforce its charm. Because its engine is so simple, it's easy to fix, imparting a deeper sense of ownership.
The van made an appearance on Bob Dylan and Beach Boys record album covers, among many, though in music circles it's most closely linked to the Grateful Dead and the legion of touring fans that followed the rock group across the US, the machines serving as rolling homes.
Steve Jobs is said to have sold his van in the 1970s to buy a circuit board as he built a computer that helped launch Apple.
The vehicle is also linked to the California surf scene, its cavernous interior perfect for hauling boards.
But in poorer regions like Latin American and Africa, the vehicle doesn't carry the same romantic appeal.
It is used in Brazil by the postal service to haul mail, by the army to transport soldiers and by funeral directors to carry bodies.
It serves as a school bus for children, operates as a group taxi and delivers construction materials to building sites.
Brazilians convert their vans into rolling food carts, setting up on street corners for working-class lunchtime crowds.
In Brazil it is known as the "Kombi," an abbreviation for the German "Kombinationsfahrzeug" that loosely translates as "cargo-passenger van."
Production in Germany was halted in 1979 because the van no longer met European safety requirements, meaning its future was dependent on operations in South America.