1950s Tempo Matador: Big Truck Looks, VW Soul


This peculiar snub-nosed creation is known as the Matador. Made by a company called Tempo in the late 1940s and early 1950s, they are commonly mistaken for custom VW buses, hacked into odd shapes. This can often be contributed to the forward opening “suicide doors” and the fact that they share many similar visual cues with the early Volkswagens. The side profile looks like a bus with something bolted on front. From the rear, the lines are reminiscent of a VW bug hood. The fact that they’re powered by a Volkswagen engine may have a strong role in the confusion as well.

When they are alone in an image, the typical American might picture them as being quite large. However, when you see someone standing next to them, the tiny size of these workhorses becomes quite evident. They were designed to be able to maneuver through winy roads in Europe, and didn’t do that particularly fast. The Volkswagen motor, pushing around 30 horsepower, was mounted under the front seat, powering the front wheels.

This stunning example appears to have been for sale at some point. You can find TONS of detailed pictures of the vehicle and some shots of the restoration on the old listing. I’ve pulled a few images just in case they take it down at some point.


There weren’t very many built, roughly 1300 of this model, so if you manage to find one be sure to let your local Volkswagen enthusiast know. They’ll be excited to see one in the flesh, even though they aren’t made by Volkswagen.

Again, these are just a few shots of this beautifully restored one. You can find many more pictures on the listing at oldbug.com

I would absolutely LOVE to have one of these. In my mind they’re a perfect mix of big “cab over” truck looks mixed with small utilitarian design. I’m not sure how safe those doors would be in a wreck, but the fact that the front end holds the fuel tank might be slightly more of a concern.

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