Volkswagen Transporter: from Hippie Van to classic of the future

Volkswagen Transporter: from Hippie Van to classic of the future

Despite its advanced age it still has an undisputed high user value. Meanwhile it still enjoys wide popularity; plenty of valid reason for VW to present the new edition of its classic in the year 2015. Nevertheless, its popularity and sales success could not be expected when in Wolfsburg, exactly on March, 8th 1950 the first ten VW Transporters left the assembly line. The VW Bus T1, in Germany nick-named “Volkswagen Transporter T1”, represented at that time the second model range by the Volkswagen facility intended for civil use after the Beetle car. Initially it was mocked as a hippie van, which didn’t prevent the Volkswagen Transporter T1 to develop as a representative model for the car manufacturer from Wolfsburg.

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Volkswagen Transporter Bus T1: so the star is born

Even though the VW Beetle and the VW bus are not at all alike in appearance and use, the Volkswagen Transporter’s technology was initially based on the already legendary VW Beetle technology. The first VW Bus T1 “Bulli” was equipped with a mere 25 HP performance. It was not until the early 1960ies when its performance was increased to 42 HP. A 1.5 litre boxer engine enabled 100 km/h speed when unloaded. In 1965 VW equipped the T1 with two additional HP; furthermore, as of then the bus was available with the 12V on-board technology.

The T1 evolves into a sales and export hit

Despite all enhancements VW discontinued the production of the Volkswagen Transporter T1 for the German market after 17 years. The model went into well-deserved retirement as a big hero. The car had become sales hit quite unexpectedly. In Germany alone, more than 1.83 million of the Volkswagen Transporter T1 models were sold by the end of production. In Brazil, production of the T1 continued until 2000; another million units of the popular bus left the assembly line. Today, only authorised garages known for their high quality and service standard are able to supply high-grade quality spare parts for these VW models.Volkswagen Transporter T1

Dramatic facelift: the Volkswagen Transporter T1 gets a new look

Even more popular was the VW T3, in production between 1979 and 1990. Especially its modern design, adapted to the “zeitgeist”, was striking. VW designers gave the 3rd generation of Transporter an angular look. This was very well received, as these contours were very fashionable at the time. This was not nearly the only factor giving the T3 a real cult status. The model range was extended considerably. In addition to the commercial vans, the car concern from Wolfsburg now supplied campervans and special T1 models for passenger transport.

The Oettinger bus turns the Volkswagen Transporter T1 into a real sports car

In 1985 VW extended its portfolio with a very special highlight – the so-called Oettinger bus. With its 6-cilinder 180 HP water boxer engine, the model had every feature of a real sports car and even caused a real hype among race drivers. The competition in the sports range could hardly deny acknowledgement of the Oettinger bus. Therefore, with the B32 model, Porsche presented its own bus, based on the VW T3 Caravelle. In order to emphasize its sporty character, Porsche supplied its rear engine with an impressive 236 HP.

The legend lives on in present models

Even the modern, present-day models of the Volkswagen Transporter T1 are still based on the T1’s construction and design. Its look may have altered and plenty of enhancements and innovations were added to its technology. Yet, the T1 lives on in every model. Volkswagen Transporter T1 admirers miss one thing: the first model’s blubbering sound, reminiscent of the voices of Joe Cocker and Bob Dylan.

The new T6: between nostalgia and high-tech

All in all, the T6 available since 2015 exudes a similar flair as the 1950ies and 1960ies original. Especially the Multi-van Generation Six goes back to its roots. The two-toned paintwork strongly reminds of the legendary first Volkswagen Transporter T1. Furthermore, its design with its remarkable lines on its modern-shaped front and rear can be considered a tribute to the T1. However, the T6 does not set standards with nostalgia, but mainly because of its very modern technology. Modern Euro 6 engines, with standard BlueMotion technology, comfortable seats made of high-grade material and plenty of functions as well as innovative infotainment and assistance systems make the “old” VW T1 into a classic of the future.

Foto: Art Konovalov, paul prescott /

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