It’s kind of amazing how popular this type of VW Type 2-ish truck design was in the 1960s and 1970s, and how it’s hardly seen today, at least in the US. It’s such a good design! This Fiat 238 is a lot like the VW one, down to the under-bed locker and three fold-down sides. Here you sit on the engine, though, which does have some packaging advantages. Man, I like this design. Too bad we’re all so adverse to front-end collisions. 

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Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)

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DISCUSSION

If I recall correctly VW responded to the front end crash issue back in the day and while the vehicle was still not your best friend in a wreck, the improvements they made to the Type 2 significantly improved your chances. According to the reports the 1973 Type 2 met passenger car crash standards, even though such standards weren’t applied to vans.

A Vanagon - still a rear-engine design, remember - was tested in a crash against a Volvo 700 wagon in the 90s and the VW essentially destroyed the Volvo and vaporized its crash test driver. The VW dummy’s results were actually pretty good.  That was a more difficult 50-50 offset crash.

I posit that the deadliness of the cabover design is BS and it’s only a bunch of Chicken Littles that are ruining the ride for everyone else.  We could have space efficient, roomy trucks that pack a lot of cargo into a small footprint, if we could only drown out the idiots who continue to amplify the misinformation.