The Incredible History of the Volkswagen Transporter Campervan

December 06, 2016 at 9:30 AM

When we think about campervans, one of the most iconic has to be that of the rather beautiful Volkswagen Transporter. This awesome vehicle has been around since the Second World War and has set the pace and style for future campervans.

Over its 60 year history, this van has changed from a functional vehicle that transports only goods, to an incredibly beautiful people carrier that has become iconic in it's design and fucntionality. There have been a total of five generations of VW Transporter and below we share with you, its incredible story. Enjoy! 

The Beginning - The T1 Transporter

The Volkswagen Transporter T1, was a panel van that launched back in 1954. A staggering 1.8 million vans were sold and it has a shape that is easily recognisable today and remains their most iconic Transporter. In fact, the Transporter T1 is still popular today with its baby blue colouring and white details and its famous "splitty" front windscreen, you simply have to love it. However, just as with all VW vans, not everything is about looks, and boy, does this van drive well. The original van featured a large interior space which quickly lent itself to campervan conversion, a beautiful steering wheel position that is a design feature drivers loved and a 1.2-litre engine that dishes out 30bhp (something many have since improved upon). 


The T2 Transporter

It wasn't until 22 years later, in 1976, that the Volkswagen Transporter 2 was launched. This was marketed as a large panel van or people carrier with 3.9 million were made. The T2 Volkswagen Transporter is known for its toughness and durability, and there are still many working models around today. It has a more powerful engine than the T1, as it comes with 50bhp that is generated from a 1.6-litre engine. The steering is also slightly more responsiv and famous for its popular bright orange body, the changes to the van were cosmetically slight and a small transition that ensured continued success.


The T3

We now fast forward to 1989 and the production of the VW Transporter 3, or the Caravelle, as it was more commonly known. An impressive 1.7 million of these vehicles were produced during its production. This was the vehicle that saw the priority of function, over aesthetics, and this difference can be clearly marked in the T3. However, this VW Transporter still has lots of appeal for the VW van enthusiast. The T3 was also designed with comfort as a top priority, and the luxurious blue décor in the cabin creates a relaxing atmosphere. The van also came with electric windows, and even a sunroof! But as already mentioned, the true beauty of the T3 is in its functionality and driveability. It has a 2.1-litre engine and can reach an impressive 112bhp. It has wonderful torque, a dogleg gearbox and is incredibly easy to handle. 


The VW T4 

This beauty of the T4 is still a much-loved favourite today. In fact, when we envisage a classic campervan, it has to be the VW T4. Part of its popularity is down to not only it looking irresistible, but also to the fact that it is highly versatile. This campervan can be used to transport commercial goods, ferry people long distances as well as being able to store vast amounts of camping equipment. This campervan was also way ahead of its time, as it introduced the first water cooled engine. It should also be noted that the T4 was the first campervan to officially use the term VW Transporter, as the others were only given this title as a nickname. During its 13 years of production, the first T4 was made in 1990, it didn't really undergo a major body change until the early 2000s when the front was redesigned in order to accommodate the larger v6 engine.


Today - The Volkswagen Transporter 5

So now we reach the end of the VW 
Transporter journey with the production of the T5 in 2014. The VW Transporter has a 2-litre diesel engine with an impressive seven-speed clutch gearbox. So it is very far removed from the T1. However, even for all of its high tech, this is still very much a VW Transporter that has stayed true to its roots. It may have elevated luxuries such as a walnut trim and elaborate leather seats. It may also have all mod cons, such as built-in Wi-Fi, a drinks cooler and electronic reclining seats. But, it is still very much a VW Transporter at heart. Boy, has it come a long way!


Tags: Volkswagen VW Transporter History
Category: Miscellaneous

Back to all Blogs