This weekend, May 19-20, the world’s oldest Volkswagen transporters will gather in the Netherlands for this year’s European Barndoor Gathering, a meet for early VW ‘Bulli’ buses built from 1950 to 1955 – and only the second such event, the first having taken place in 2014.
The Barndoor Gathering will be held this year at Amersfoort, just outside Amsterdam. In the 1950s, Ben Pon – the Dutch Volkswagen importer who dreamt up the idea of the Transporter – used the rail freight terminal of Amersfoort as a central hub for the delivery of Volkswagen Beetles and Transporters from Germany.
The ‘barndoor’ moniker comes from the engine compartment doors of the first Volkswagen buses, which look disproportionately large… like a barn door. The name is applied to the majority of Transporters produced at Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg plant until 1955. In early 1955, the engine cover was reduced in size when a boot lid was introduced, ending the barn door era. Then, in 1956, Transporter production began in the new plant in Hannover.
Today, the barn door is one of the most valuable of the classic VW Transporters, or ‘Bullis’ as they are also known. Around 100 of them will be on display at the site of the old freight yard in Amersfoort.
Also making their appearance at the Barndoor Gathering in the Netherlands, are Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge Oldtimer, the classic car specialists from Hannover. They will bring ‘Sofie’ with them – the oldest registered VW bus in Germany. The blue T1 was manufactured in August 1950 – just five months after the production launch of the Transporter.
Beetles, Karmann Ghias, Type 3s and many other models from the air-cooled family of Volkswagen vehicles will also attend the Amersfoort meeting. For more information and travel directions go to the Ben Pon website.