Over its long history, the Volkswagen Type 2 bus has played an instrumental role in the early stages of many startup companies, including the humble beginnings of one of the largest sportswear brands in the world - Nike.
To celebrate the rich history of both companies, VW and Nike have decided to collaborate on a special new project, with two limited-edition shoe releases and a nationwide tour with this Volkswagen ID. BUZZ Cargo concept bus (van) wearing vintage logos representing Nike and Blue Ribbon Sports, the Santa Monica CA-based shoe store that Nike founder Phil Knight started before he even developed the Nike brand.
Ever since the very first time I saw the Volkswagen ID. BUZZ Cargo on the internet, I've been absolutely enamored by its retro futuristic styling and its pure practicality. Clearly based on the classic Volkswagen Type 2 Bus, the ID. BUZZ Cargo is a fully electric long-range concept vehicle that is still in the development stages. The actual production model isn't likely to be available for public purchase until sometime in 2021 from what I've been told. Until then, we can dream, can't we?
While I saw the VW ID. BUZZ Cargo Concept under the lights at the LA Auto Show, seeing one parked in the wild generates a totally different feeling. It was exciting seeing it parked on the street in real life, sitting pretty next to a Santa Monica city parking meter. I wasn't the only person who decided to stop to take photos after noticing this gorgeous VW. The attention grabbing blue and white panels of the Buzz Cargo made lots of people crane their necks in traffic, or even stop to take photos while a long line of runners and Nike streetwear fans lined the sidewalk next to it.
Like any sneaker and streetwear aficionado would agree, a limited edition sneaker drop is a big deal in the world of Hypebeast fashionistas and sneaker freakers. On display right next to the VW ID. BUZZ Cargo Concept were two Blue Ribbon Sports podiums with the limited edition kicks on display.
This young woman above is smiling because she got her hands on an exclusive pair of "1 of 3107" Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2, which commemorate the actual address at Phil Knight's original BRS store location. The other pair of limited edition Nikes in the drop are a set of BRS logo'ed Nike Cortez sneakers—the original shoe that helped launch Nike's brand into the stratosphere in the 1970s.
It was pretty awesome to see this collab between Volkswagen and Nike come to fruition, especially since they were kicking off their nationwide tour at the actual location of the original Blue Ribbon Sports shop on 3107 Pico Blvd in Santa Monica.
Inside the shop, I spotted some old photos on the wall which show the early days of Blue Ribbon Sports and Nike - including a photo of the VW Type 2 bus that early Nike employee Jeff Johnson drove to deliver shoes all throughout Southern California in the 1960s and 1970s.
After checking out this launch event, I searched YouTube for videos about the early days of Phil Knight and Nike, and found some awesome documentaries... but more on Nike and BRS later.
Let's first concentrate on the awesome VDub that was parked outside the store.
It's tough not to notice the VW ID. BUZZ Cargo, even when it's parked on the street minding its own business. Tons of people were slowing down as they drove past, craning their necks to get a longer glimpse of the van as they proceeded down the street.
From the back, the BUZZ Cargo might look similar to any normal utilitarian van, except for the fact that it has a subtle nod to the original Type 2 on the rear of the roof line. It also sets itself apart with stylish two tone paint and sexy LED tail lights that are so thin, they make Hollywood starlets feel self conscious.
From the front, you can certainly see relationship to the classic VW bus, but to me, it looks sort of like Iron Man's helmet, but with a nose. The face of the vehicle retains the familiar "V" shape from the original Type 2 transporter that people have grown to love.
The interior of the ID Cargo is where it really looks like a space ship. Everything can be controlled with the iPad in the center console. It features an intelligent telescopic steering wheel that displays the transmission gear selection with infotainment controls as well.
With rubber non-slip mats lining the floor, the ID. BUZZ Cargo stays true to its purpose of being a utility vehicle. I thought the brake and accelerator pedal looked interesting. The rubber foot grip design looks like the Play and Pause buttons on a CD or cassette player.
Since this particular ID. BUZZ Cargo has been set up as a lightweight commercial vehicle, it features a pair of comfortable Captain's Chair type seats with easy to maintain surface materials. From this view, we can also see the steering wheel and steering column, which retracts all the way into the dashboard when not in use.
Since the backside of the van is completely covered in panels (meaning no rear windows), the rear view mirror is actually a display screen that shows the fisheye views from different cameras around the vehicle.
The center console had a German iPad attached to it, but my guess is that Volkswagen will ship these vans with the most current technological options available when the vehicle releases. There's a reason why VW always wins all the interior design awards from the automotive media at all the big auto shows.
Speaking of interior design, the door panels look incredibly cool and futuristic. Of course, this is a concept vehicle so the buttons haven't been added in yet.
The headlights of the ID. BUZZ Cargo look cool. Instead of the round headlights that the original Type 2 used, the ID. BUZZ Cargo has interactive LED systems to light up the roadway and communicate interactively with pedestrians. The cellis style DRL strips around the headlight light up when the vehicle is on, and the headlights themselves are a bunch of LEDs behind several carefully placed apertures from within the headlight unit. It dawned on me that part of this vehicle's sleek appearance comes from the fact that these lights have been integrated into the overall front fascia of the car.
I doubt the actual production vehicle would be built exactly like this, however. Without easily removable headlight units, changing bulbs or maintaining the headlight lenses as they age might become a bit of an issue.
Instead of side mirrors, backup cameras were installed in a cool, sleek housing.
The front windshield is lined in white instead of the black that you see in most vehicles these days. This really lends to the smooth, clean appearance of the A-pillar on the vehicle.
Above the window, a subtle overhang accentuates the long roof line and harken back to the original Type 2 bus.
When the side cargo door slides open, we can see just how useful the ID. BUZZ Cargo could be for a startup business. I can't wait to see what all the entrepreneurs around the world will do with this vehicle once it becomes available for purchase through Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (or lease, because leased vehicles are 100% deductible for business owners).
Aside from a gigantic frosted glass roof acting like a softbox inside the cargo area, this particular ID. BUZZ Cargo has been equipped with shelves and a drawer system. With the blue and white colors, close to the signature FCP Euro blue, it made me imagine just how amazing it would be if FCP Euro had one of these ID. BUZZ Cargo vans on race day, providing trackside support to the MK7 Volkswagen GTI TCRs.
For trackside mechanics, having shelves and drawers like these in a mobile workshop van would be game changing, with a payload (maximum load) of 1,760 pounds. It could be conveniently parked close to pit lane, so the race team could transport air compressors, tools, and keep small parts handy. You never know when you might need some extra 10mm sockets, or in this case, a V-Kupferpressfitting.
The rear end of the vehicle is just as cool as the front. The hard edged lines going around the van reveal that VW engineers designed them for function, not just form. Just above the clear VW logo on the back door, you'll see that the door handle was cleverly hidden underneath the bodyline.
Of course, I noticed a classic Nike box sitting on the top shelf. Instead of tool drawers, this ID. BUZZ Cargo could be equipped with a ton of orange Nike boxes inside. The possibilities are endless.
Back to my trackside support vehicle idea, I noticed this particular ID Buzz Cargo has a fold down workbench with a vise attached to it. This would certainly be helpful for pressing in fittings or bushings at the racetrack.
Like I mentioned previously, many aspects of the ID. BUZZ Cargo can be controlled via an iPad. In this case, however, I think this woman was just searching for Volkswagen parts on the FCP Euro website.
With the rear doors closed, the BUZZ Cargo looks sleek and sexy, especially with those thin tail lights. The way the designers integrated the third brake light into the subtle roof spoiler looks very clean and cohesive, as one can expect from the VW design language. Each door also has rear view cameras mounted to it, so it will be easy to parallel park on a bustling city street.
Next to the curb, I noticed the wheels were 20" in diameter to allow for confident handling on the road, but the tall Continental 235/55/R20 tire sidewalls will absorb all the little bumps in the road. The large size wheels look at home on the ID. BUZZ Cargo, and I think they would look great repurposed onto a sedan as well.
After checking out the futuristic Volkswagen x BRS collab vehicle outside, I decided to wander into the see the space that the Nike team prepared for its customers as a local community hangout.
Since Santa Monica already has a large Nike store, there was no reason to make the original Blue Ribbon Sports shop into another retail location.
Instead, Nike decided to turn it into a community hub so that its customers can gather (similar to why FCP Euro created it's Customer Experience Center). At BRS, local running clubs can come together, chill, and meet up for events. The manager of the space told me that they regularly host running club events at the newly opened space, and everyone is welcome to join in the fun.
I couldn't help but be drawn to the cool shelving along the wall, which had a mix of vintage magazines, old posters, shoe art, books and records. Just my style.
As anyone that follows me on Instagram can tell, I greatly admire midcentury modern furniture, so obviously I loved visiting this space, with stylish, yet comfortable furniture inside.
Right by the front door, there was also a box for Nike's program for recycling old sneakers. I was curious, so I peeked inside... and I was surprised to find some heat in the box. The Santa Monica crowd is apparently Marie Kondo-ing up their lives, because there were some rare shoes in there that easily could have been sold on eBay.
Nike soles on my feet make my cipher complete. On the West Coast, the Nike Cortez shoe is something that people associate with rap artists like Ice Cube and Snoop Dogg because of its strong link to urban street culture, but according to the book Shoe Dog, which chronicles the story of Nike's founder Phil Knight, it actually started out as a running shoe that Nike developed to compete with Japan's Onitsuka Tiger (Asics), a shoe brand that Blue Ribbon Sports imported into the United States and helped develop over time.
This is the new limited edition Cortez with BRS logos, paying homage to this game changing piece of history that led to Nike's success.
While I didn't have time to sit down and pore through the old photo albums at BRS, I greatly respect the fact that Nike got a hold of the original store location that it occupied when the company started. When growing a brand, many companies are so focused on progression and capturing market share that they sometimes forget the genesis of what made them successful in the first place - focusing on the wants and needs of the customer.
While I wouldn't consider myself a sneakerhead anymore (more like recovering addict) because I spend my money on camera equipment instead of shoes nowadays, spending time at the original Blue Ribbon Sports location and seeing all the potential in the Volkswagen ID. BUZZ Cargo left me inspired.
Volkswagen says it's possible to achieve ranges between about 200 and 340 miles in its new modular electric van, dependent on battery size and the model in question. Having this type of capability and interior volume could be a game changer for startup companies (or existing businesses) looking for a stylish vehicle to promote their brands or even a mobile place of business.
My head has been flooding with ideas, making me wonder what I'd do with it if I owned a Volkswagen ID. BUZZ Cargo. Here's a better question — what would you do with it?
If you like this Volkswagen ID. BUZZ Cargo, you can find additional Volkswagen content at volkswagen.fcpeuro.com, as well as more build features like this one here. If there's anything specific you would like to see, or if you have any questions/comments, leave them in the comments section below.
Antonio Alvendia is an aficionado of cameras, rare wheels, hip hop, and obscure aftermarket car accessories. He bought his first E39 Touring after seeing M5 Estates on photo trips to Europe, and now has sights set on restoring a classic Mercedes. Antonio was a principal photographer on the limited edition hardcover book on Singer Vehicle Design's Porsche 911 builds, entitled One More Than Ten. Future goals include returning to the Nurburgring to shoot the N24 race and driving the Nordschleife again. ••• Instagram : @MOTORMAVENS