The VW T3 Syncro is a tough but quirky machine, but you didn’t need me to tell you that. Just have a look at all the #vanlife posts on Instagram. Of course, before it was hauling hipsters out of Bushwick, it was doing real work in the South African Bush.
South Africa has long been Volkswagen country. The Beetles there were unique hodgepodges of different trims and components not seen together anywhere else, it was there that the Mk1 Golf finally went out of production in 2009, and it’s in South Africa that someone supposedly dailies a one-off Beetle-based SUV prototype.
And when it came to the T3 Syncro, things were no different. Though all 4WD models were built in Graz, Austria, the South African-market model was unique. The locking front differential, optional in other markets, was standard, for example. The T3 Kombi, known as the Volksie Bus down there, wasso successful that the rear-wheel drive model managed to stay in production down there until 2002, long after the motor moved up front everywhere else with the T4 generation.
With local pedigree like that, its only natural that Volkswagen brought in local talent to sell their van. David Kramer was a treasured local folk musician whose blend of music and humor helped humanize the victims of Apartheid. Despite his controversial reputation and appetite for ribbing at the regime, Kramer was a star, and Volkswagen put that star power to use.
In this case, Kramer sings about a stationmaster whose Volksie Syncro is put to the test when a couple of bandits run off with a bicycle. It’s a whimsical little tale and it gives as much of a glimpse into rural Afrikaaner life as it does into the capabilities of the van. It’s delightful to watch and Kramer’s accent is fun too.
I can imagine that these ads went a long way towards putting more Volksies in driveways down in South Africa. They were a lot of fun.