Set to take place on May 15 at the N.C. Music Factory, The Piedmont Transporter Owners' 7th Annual Charlotte Transporter Show is devoted to what many of us refer to as Volkswagen vans (and sometimes stereotype as "hippie vans"). But Jake Armour, a Vintage Volkswagen Specialist at Monkey Nut and a member of The Piedmont Transporter Owners, is quick to point out that this terminology is a more than a little off.
German auto manufacturer Volkswagen launched its line of vehicles with the VW "Beetle" car, its first model, termed Type 1. Shortly after that, the company went bigger with what some folks call the "van," though Type 2 is the model name. Owners and enthusiasts of the vehicle refer to it as Type 2, but also dub it "transporter" and "bus."
"The term 'van' is reserved for the American-made competition of the time (Ford Econoline, Dodge A-series, and Chevy Greenbriers) and is considered taboo among VW bus owners," Armour explains.
Armour's fascination for VW Type 2s began at an early age from both his grandfather's (who purchased one of the first of its kind sold in Pennsylvania in 1956) and father's interest and ownership of the vehicles throughout the years. When Armour was ready to buy his own vehicle, he ended up purchasing a 1967 VW bus in poor condition. After fully restoring the vehicle, he became devoted to the repair of Type 2's and began buying more of the same nature.
"I gain a lot of satisfaction from finding neglected VW buses, bringing them back to 'life,' and passing them along to enthusiasts to drive and enjoy," Armour says. "This passion for VW buses has culminated in the opening of Monkey Nut, a local VW restoration shop in Charlotte, with my friend and fellow VW enthusiast Bryan Mitchell."
The PTO -- a chapter of Northeastern Association of Transporter Owners, a national VW bus owners' organization -- was founded in 2007 after a growing interest in the vehicles. The group meets twice a month with another local VW club called Metrolina VW Enthusiasts.
At the Charlotte Transporter Show, Type 2s from 1950 (the beginning of production) to 1981 (the end of air-cooled bus production) reign supreme. The show started in May of 2004, when Armour and Mitchell conceived and organized the concept, which became an annual event and quickly required bigger venue space.
"This event is designed as a forum for VW bus owners to meet, share stories, show off their cars, and exchange highly sought after specialty parts. The crowd is not just confined to Carolina vehicles, as bus owners drive in from New York, Florida and Alabama to name a few. They also fly in from as far away as California, just for this event," says Armour.
At the event, picnics are allowed, and food vendors, in addition to vendors with merchandise related to Type 2s, are on hand. Awards are also given out to participants in the show for categories like "Best Camper," "Best Commercial Vehicle," "Best Deluxe Bus," "Long Distance Award," among others.
The Charlotte Transporter Show is preceded by an open house party at Monkey Nut (www.monkeynutvw.com) the day/night before the event. It is also followed by a Sunday drag race and VW car show called the Big Bug Shootout held at the Piedmont Dragway (www.sevwa.com) near Greensboro, N.C.
The 7th Annual Charlotte Transporter Show will take place at the N.C. Music Factory, 820 Hamilton St., May 15 at 9 a.m. The event is free to the public and $5-$15 for vehicle entry into the show. For more information on the event, visit piedmonttransporterowners.org.