Volkswagen began producing the Transporter or VW Typ 2 in 1950 from their Hannover plant in Germany, building it on the Volkswagen Group’s T platform. There are six generations of the Transporter, designated as T1, T2, T3, T4, T5, and T6 and manufactured in various body styles, such as a van, pickup, minibus, crew cab, chassis cab, and campervan.
The First Generation: T1 (1950–1967)
The T1 generation is a light commercial vehicle or a full-size van available in 4- and 5-door panel van, 4- and 5-door minibus, 3-door pickup (crew cab), and 2-door pickup (regular cab) body styles.
Initially, only the VW Kombi (with two side windows and middle and rear seats) and the commercial model were available. The Microbus was introduced in 1950, while the ambulance model came in 1951. The latter introduced the fuel tank in front of the transaxle, the spare tyre behind the front seat, and the tailgate-style rear door which became standard for the first generation.
The Microbus, aka Splitscreen or Splittie (named from its split windshield), was based on the Beetle and used a 1.1L air-cooled flat-four-cylinder 'boxer' petrol engine (18 kW). In 1953, it received an upgraded 1.2L petrol engine (22 kW). A 30-kW version would be later released in 1959.
In 1962, a factory version launched with a 1.5L petrol engine (31 kW) became so successful that Volkswagen ceased producing the 1.2L Transporter. A year later, the 1.5L version was uprated to 38 kW and became the standard.
In 1964, the Transporter was offered with a sliding side door as an option to the standard hinged doors.
The luxury version of the Kombi, the Alpine (aka Samba), was marketed in Australia in 1964 and offered in 23- and 21-window options. It had a sunroof, and two pivot doors instead of the sliding one.
The Second Generation: T2 (1967–1979)
The second-generation Transporter was produced between 1967 and 1979 in Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico as well as in Melbourne, Australia since 1970. It was a light commercial vehicle in 2 and 3-door pickup, 4-door panel van, and 4-door minibus body styles with a rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout.
As it was slightly larger and heavier than its predecessor, it also came with a larger engine (1.6L petrol engine that produced 35 kW) and electric accessories upgraded to 12 volts.
Initial models featured split-front windshield, rounded bumpers with steps, 90-degree opening doors, and no lip on the front guards.
In Australia, it came in 1970 with the base trim level featuring 1.6L petrol engine (37 kW, 108 Nm) paired with a 4-speed manual gearbox. It was equipped with dual intake ports on each cylinder head, front disc brakes, and new roadwheels with brake ventilation holes.
In 1974, a 2.0L petrol engine (51 kW, 143 Nm) was introduced with hydraulic valve lifters and Bosch L-Jetronic electronic fuel injection as a standard.
The Third Generation: T3 (1979-1992)
The third generation of the Transporter used different nameplates, including Caravelle, Microbus, and Vanagon. It was manufactured in Germany with a rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout in either a 3-door van or 3-door pickup body make.
In Australia, it was marketed as the Caravelle, so for more information on this generation refer to the Volkswagen Caravelle article.
The Fourth Generation: T4 (1990-2003)
The fourth-generation Transporter was produced by the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle from 1990 until 2003 in the following body styles – 2-, 3- and 4-door pickup, 4-, 5- and 6-door van, and 4-door campervan. It adopted a transverse front-engine, front-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive layout, being the first van with a front-mounted, water-cooled engine.
In Australia, it was introduced in 1993 equipped with the following engines:
- Base – 2.0L petrol engine (62 kW, 159 Nm) paired with 5-speed manual gearbox
- Base (upgraded) – 2.4L diesel engine (57 kW, 164 Nm) paired with 5-speed manual gearbox
- LWB and SWB – 2.5L petrol engine (81 kW, 190 Nm) paired with either 4-speed automatic transmission or 5-speed manual gearbox
- Syncro (4x4), Syncro LWB (4x4) and Syncro SWB (4x4) – 2.4L diesel engine (57 kW, 164 Nm) paired with 5-speed manual gearbox
- (1999) TDi, TDi (LWB), TDi (SWB), TDi Syncro (4x4), TDI Syncro LWB (4x4) – 2.5L diesel engine (75 kW, 250 Nm) paired with either 4-speed automatic transmission or 5-speed manual gearbox
- (2001) Base, Syncro (4x4), Syncro LWB (4x4), and Syncro SWB (4x4) – 2.5L petrol engine (85 kW, 200 Nm) paired with either a 4-speed automatic transmission or a 5-speed manual gearbox with a four-wheel-drive layout
- (2002) Limited Edition TDI 300 – 2.5L diesel engine (75 kW, 250 Nm) paired with either 4-speed automatic transmission or 5-speed manual gearbox
The base features included a driver’s airbag, cloth trim, engine immobiliser, power steering, and a radio cassette with two speakers.
The limited-edition TDI 300 added dual front airbags, anti-lock braking, and 15-inch alloy wheels.
The Fifth Generation (T5 – Transporter; 2003-2016)
A fifth-generation Transporter people-mover was marketed in Australia under the nameplate VW Multivan, which is also covered in another article. Aside from the Multivan, however, there are other Transporter T5 body makes, such as:
- (2004) LWB, SWB, and Crewvan (SWB) – 1.9L diesel engine (77 kW, 250 Nm) paired with a 5-speed manual gearbox
- (2005) SWB – 3.2L petrol engine (173 kW, 315 Nm) paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission
- LWB 4Motion, Crewvan (LWB), Crewvan (SWB), Crewvan 4 MTN (LWB) – 2.5L diesel engine (96 kW, 340 Nm) paired with a 6-speed manual gearbox for the LWB 4Motion, or a 5-speed manual gearbox or a 6-speed automatic transmission for the Crewvans
- SWB 4Motion, Crewvan (SWB), Crewvan 4 MTN (LWB) – 2.5L diesel engine (128 kW, 400 Nm) paired with a 6-speed manual gearbox
- (2010) 103 TDI LWB, 103 TDI LWB High, 103 TDI LWB Low, 103 TDI LWB Med, 103 TDI SWB Low, 103 TDI SWB Med – 2.0L diesel engine (103 kW, 340 Nm) paired with either a 7-speed automatic transmission or a 6-speed manual gearbox
- 132 TDI LWB High, 132 TDI LWB HIGH 4 MTN, 132 TDI LWB LOW 4 MTN, 132 TDI LWB MED 4 MTN, 132 TDI SWB LOW 4 MTN, 132 TDI SWB Med, 132 TDI SWB MED 4 MTN – 2.0L diesel engine (132 kW, 400 Nm) paired with 7-speed automatic transmission or 6-speed manual gearbox
- 75 TDI LWB HIGH, 75 TDI LWB Low, 75 TDI LWB Med, 75 TDI SWB Low, 75 TDI SWB Med, 2.0L diesel engine (75 kW, 250 Nm) paired with a 5-speed manual gearbox
Aside from the previous standard equipment, the base model now also includes anti-lock braking, air conditioning, electronic differential lock, power mirrors and windows, and traction control system.
The higher-spec trims added brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution, electronic stability program, hill holder, and 17-inch alloy wheels.
The Sixth Generation: T6 (2016-present)
The sixth-generation Transporter is a light commercial vehicle in a van, pickup, minibus, crew cab, chassis cab, and campervan body style with a front-engine, front-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive layout.
It is built on the T5's 7H/7J platform with slight updates, such as a new dashboard with standard and comfort versions, revised windscreen and front end, and updated tailgate and rear lights.
Powertrain options matched the ones from its predecessor, while the basic equipment included LED headlights, LED rear lights and options for driver assistance and multimedia.
As the T6 can be converted into a campervan, there are options for a pop-top roof, bed platform, sink, and grill installation as well as additional storage.
Converting the Transporter into a campervan vehicle has become quite a trend! If you’re looking for conversion kits, or just spare parts and accessories, have a look at our marketplace! Carpart offers a large assortment of used or brand new parts and accessories from our various sellers.
Author: Andrijana Pavlovic