HomeCar CultureVW, Nike revive history with a new Blue Ribbon Sports van

VW, Nike revive history with a new Blue Ribbon Sports van


When University of Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman and one of his former runners, business school graduate Phil Knight, started an athletic shoe company back in 1964, they outfitted a blue-and-white Volkswagen Type 2 bus as their delivery vehicle.

At the time, they sold their products under the banner of Blue Ribbon Sports, Nike. 

Nike, VW, Nike revive history with a new Blue Ribbon Sports van, ClassicCars.com Journal
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Two years later they dropped the first part of the company’s name and the rest, as they say, is history. And now part of that history is being revived as Nike and Volkswagen have outfitted an electric-powered Volkswagen ID, Buzz Cargo concept van to resemble that original Blue Ribbon Sports Nike delivery vehicle and will use the van to promote Nike’s “Reuse-A-Show” program and VW’s move to electric vehicles.

The van is being unveiled October 5 in front of Nike’s original storefront in Santa Monica, California and will appear at other events across the country, Volkswagen said in its news release. The store was re-opened by Nike earlier this year to serve the Los Angeles running community.

Jeff Johnson was Nike’s first official employee and helped establish the original store at 3107 Pico Boulevard. In addition to managing the store, he would travel to local track meets selling product out of his personal vehicle, a VW Type 2 bus.

The new bus promotes VW’s “Drive Bigger” initiative of social and corporate responsibility and Nike’s Reuse-A-Show program, which turns worn-out sports shoes into materials used in running tracks, turf surfaces and athletic gear.

Nike, VW, Nike revive history with a new Blue Ribbon Sports van, ClassicCars.com Journal
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“To learn Volkswagen played such an important role in Nike’s early history is a really big deal to us,” Saad Chehab, senior vice president of Volkswagen brand marketing, is quoted in the news release.

“Supporting the rebirth of BRS is the perfect platform to help promote the common values of our companies, while showing the world VW’s commitment to electrification isn’t just about personal transportation – it’s about moving everything in a smarter fashion.”

Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.



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