The History of the VW Transporter
VW transporter in factory
The VW Transporter is one of the most famous and iconic vehicles to have ever been manufactured with a history dating back to just after World War II. VW T4 campervans are our personal favourites, but it all started out with the Volkswagen Type 2, also known as a ‘split-screen’, which is still one of the most popular retro campervan models to date.
VW in factory
The Type 2 was dreamt up by Ben Pon, who visited the Volkswagen factory as Germany was re-building post WWII. This factory, the Kdf-stadt back then, was under British control after the war and where Major Hirst starting reproducing the VW Beetle. It was renamed due to its close proximity to Wolfsburg Castle.
It is thought that he noticed the Plattenwagen, which was designed to shuttle parts around the factory, and got the inspiration to sketch what became known as the VW Transporter.
The popularity of the Type 2 even led to a second-generation T2 version of the original, released in the late 1960’s. However, after the T2, campervan enthusiasts had to wait over a decade until the next VW Transporter hit the market. The T3 or the T25 as it’s also known, came just before the T4 in the 1980’s.
VW T4 Campervan on the beach at Loch Lomond
VW T4 campervans are still a top favourite for a variety of uses, from light commercial to minibuses and camping. Production of the T4, which sported a revolutionary front-mounted water-cooled engine, started in 1990 and continued for 13 years until 2003.
Volkswagen had been toying with the idea of front-engined campervans since the ‘70s as they had enjoyed success with their passenger cars, but the van ended up being delayed until the launch of VW T4 campervans.
It is actually this model of campervan that officially launched the ‘Transporter’ name as its predecessors are only colloquially referred to as Transporter campervans; the VW T4 is the original vehicle to use the name.
VW T4 campervans stayed relatively similar in the whole 13 years of production, with only one major change in 1994 when the front end was re-shaped. The move was required in order to fit the larger six-cylinder VR6 engine into the bay.
The two different versions of VW T4 campervans are known as T4a and T4b by super- fans, keeping in traditional with the Type 2.
There are a vast number of engines to choose from since the re-model: the T4a can be powered by four engines (I4, R4, I5, R5) in either petrol or diesel, but the T4b also saw the five-cylinder TDI engine.
VW T5 Campervan
The VW Transporter didn’t end with the T4 in 2003, its successor the T5 was released in the same year with a much more streamlined design. It underwent a re-design in 2009 to improve power and install a dual clutch transmission. Rumours have it the T6 is now not too far away also.
VW T6 Campervan
Because of their popularity, it’s easier to get your hands on gold dust than a VW T4 campervan these days! If you don’t want to miss out on the experience of a T4, but don’t have the funds to buy your own, book a camper with Rockinvans.