The Volkswagen Type 2 van symbolizes many things, but probably none more than the free wheeling hippie life of the 1960s. Whether it found itself on the roads in Berkley, California or parked on a damp patch of grass in a field in Bethel, New York (at a music festival that you may have heard of called Woodstock), the VW van has become an endearing icon of the time.
Also known as the minibus, microbus or just plain bus, among other aliases, the Volkswagen Type 2 was the next vehicle produced after the company’s iconic Type 1 hit the roads. You may recognize the Type 1 under its other name, the Beetle. Suffice it to say, the Type 2 had little-big shoes to fill after the success of the Type 1 was fully realized. Spoiler alert, the Type 2 went on to be one of the most produced vans of its time, with its linage spanning from 1950 to its sixth generation of present day.
Thanks to what must have been nostalgia driven aspirations, the good folks at Tamiya released a 1/10-scale Volkswgen Type 2 based on their rear-wheel drive M-06 chassis in 2019. As experienced with many of Tamiya’s releases, the demand was high and the vehicle sold out quicker than expected. With Tamiya America plum out of the kits, where should a Volkswagen fan turn to get his RC microbus fix?
Lucky for those of us who missed out, the microbus is back. The latest Type 2 release is similar to Tamiya’s first release except for an exclusive new body treatment and a switch in chassis. The original release came with Tamiya’s rear wheel drive M-06 chassis while this newer release is furnished with a front wheel drive M-05 chassis. We’ll dive deeper into the chassis later on. The immaculately detailed first generation Volkswagen Type 2 body now comes factory precut and painted in a cheerfully vibrant shade of Tamiya Color Light Blue. Also included with it is a set of never before issued hippie influenced full-body graphics.
Called the Flower Power bus, this version of Tamiya’s Type 2 is also available in limited quantities so don’t sleep on it. I for one didn’t. This van became the perfect project for my 6-year old daughter and myself. She saw a Tamiya ad for it and was instantly drawn to its looks. Seeing an opportunity to take her eyes off the iPad for a while, I enlisted her help when building of this kit.
This RC kit is a scale depiction of the 1st-generation (T1) variant of the Volkswagen Type 2 van, which was introduced in 1950 and produced through 1967. The iconic body is paired with the front-wheel drive M-05 chassis for realistic fun driving fun. Tamiya includes a TBLE-02S ESC and brushed silver can 540 motor with the kit. In order to complete the build a radio transmitter, servo and receiver are required.
The M-05 chassis features a front-mounted motor, front-drive setup and features a lightweight, narrow, durable, and easy to assemble semi-monocoque resin frame. For better weight distribution and low center of gravity, the gearbox, motor, battery pack, receiver, servo and speed control are each strategically positioned in the chassis’ layout. The van utilizes the longer 239mm wheelbase version of the M-05 chassis, called the M-05L. It features four-wheel double wishbone suspension and is equipped with 60D radial tires. Three-piece steering linkage allows the bus nimble handling and road going response.
The beautifully sculpted VW body is accurately formed in polycarbonate and features the original 23-window version of the Type 2 T1 bus. The body comes with separately molded detailed plastic parts including a bumper, light cases and side mirrors. To complete the look, metal-plated dish style wheels are included.
Along with my 6-year old, we completed the build with a Flysky receiver and a Reefs RC Triple 4 servo which is completely overkill with 444-ounces of torque, but we’re sure it will be well abused smashing into table legs and curbs by the kid. It was a great experience to build this kit with my daughter and have her put the iPad down for a few days. We’re looking forward to more builds in the near future as she is slowly getting the RC bug.
Like all other Tamiya builds that we have encountered, the instructions are clear and concise. Life-sized drawings of hardware appear in every step to keep the builder on track and using the correct size nuts and screws. This is an easier Tamiya build so if you usually rely on RTRs and has yet to build a kit yourself, this is a good one to tackle. It’s especially helpful that the kit comes with a precut and painted body. After a few hours of build time, our Type 2 was ready to pick up some 1/10-scale hitchhikers. We slapped in a MaxAmps NimH 5000 7.2V battery and headed out.
On the Road
The suspension on the M-05L is fantastic for paved roads and hard packed dirt. Don’t let its looks fool you, the van is unsurprisingly nimble, This makes sense since it shares its chassis with the hot hatch racer, the Tamiya Toyota GR Yaris (GT-Four) as well as numerous other racers in its shorter M-05 chassis forms. The look of the bus is so accurate that we forget that the chassis it sits on is a worthy racer in its own right.
We took the bus down to the park and over to a beach to see what passerby’s would say when seeing it. We got plenty of thumbs ups and comments about the great vibes the van throws out. It’s definitely a vehicle that makes people smile, and was an especially big hit with the younger driver.
Tamiya has a home run with this latest release of the VW bus, not only has it been well received by people who know the 60s but my 6 year old daughter literally ripped the ad out of the 2021 RCCA Buyers Guide and would not stop talking about it. In todays world of video games and social media the next shinny thing has to grab the attention of today’s youth and hold it for more than a 3 seconds, ideally longer to get them to smile or actually want to get out and do something. This Tamiya Type 2 (T1) got my kid and I to get out and have plenty of fun quality time together.
Text by: Jerry Tsai & Leigh Guarnieri
Images by: Leigh Guarnieri