After World War II, Volkswagen has created a Van/Camper that has assumed many names and been produced in many markets for many markets. Names such as the Eurovan, Microbus, Westfalia Camper, Panel Van, Kombi, Samba, Pick-up, Westy, Multivan, Weekender, Splittie, 11-window, 13-window, 15-window,21-window, 23-window, Breadloaf, Bay-Window, Vanagon, VW Bus, Bully, and the list continues. During the years there has been much experimentation with this vehicle to include truck beds, campers, transporters, and more. This vehicle, in all its many facets, has had a sympathetic fallowing since its inception and has become a counterculture symbol for many generations. Its utilitarian shape has made it suitable for many scenarios and its low cost has made it economically viable.
The Volkswagen Type 2 Van was introduced in 1950 and was the second production line of vehicles introduced by Volkswagen. The first model was the Type 1 Beetle. The idea for the Type 2 came from the Dutch VW importer named Ben Pon who created the designs in 1947. Many of the vehicles aerodynamic short-comings were resolved in a wind tunnel at the Technical University of Braunschweig. Three years later, the Type 2 began leaving the Wolfsburg factory.
The Type 2 was produced from March 8th of 1950 through 2002 with many variations along the way. There were versions of the Type 2 constructed, such as the T1, T2, and T3, to name a few. This is where things get a little confusing. The Type 2 T1 was produced from 1950 through 1967 and was replaced by the Type 2 T2 which began produced in 1968 and continued in production until 1979. Production in Mexico continued in 1980 of the T2, and later in Brazil in 1996. Versions produced prior to 1971 are referred to as the T2a while those produced after 1972 are labeled T2b. The Type 2 T3 was introduced in 1979 and produced until 1991. There are many exceptions within these naming schemes with many alternate names.
The Type 2 served many functions and could be purchased from the Volkswagen dealers as a refrigerated van, hearses, ambulances, police vans, fire engines and ladder trucks. Camping versions were available through Westfalia, the official name is Westfalia-werke Wieddndruck. Volkswagen commissioned Westfalia to construct Camper cars in the early 1950s and has remained in production until 2003. Other coachbuilders created camper versions of the Type 2 such as Dormobile, VW Riviera, and VW Sun-Dial. Westfalia Camper
From 1951 through 1958, Westfalia created around 1000 Camper Box conversions. Following 1958, the SO models were introduced. SO was short for sonderausfuhrungen, meaning Special Model. Option packages were available on the SO models such as the SO-16, SO-23, SO-34, SO-35, SO-33, SO-42, SO-44 and SO-45. The SO-23 was produced from 1959 through 1961. The SO-34 and SO-35 were both available from 1961 through 1965. The SO-34 was a laminated white interior while the SO-35 was a finished wood interior.
Standard Equipment for the Westaflia Campers included electrical hookups, curtains, screened Jalousie Windows, laminated folding table, birch plywood interior panels, ice box or cold-box, and laminated cabinetry. Some models even came equipped with a sink as standard equipment. Optional was a pop-up top, tent, side awnings, camping stove, child sleeping cot, camping equipment, and portable chemical toilet, to name a few.
With many United States service man serving in Germany during the 1950 and 1960s, many were purchased and brought back to the United States.
In 1968 the Bay Window models were introduced which replaced the split screen style. Type 2 T1
The Volkswagen Type 2 T1 was the first generation of the split window bus. It is commonly known as the Splittie, Barndoor, Kombi, Bus, and the Microbus. Production began in early March of 1950 and lasted until 1967. From 1950 through 1956 it was produced in Wolfsburg. After 1956 it was produced in Hanover. Versions created until 1955 were known as the T1a
. These versions are often called the 'Barndoor' versions due to their large rear engine cover. The T1b
were produced from 1955 through 1963. These versions had a smaller engine cover and smaller, 15-inch wheels. The T1c
was introduced in 1963 and produced until 1967. These versions had a wider rear door.
The standard bus had 11-windows. Deluxe models had 15-windows. The sunroof deluxe versions had eight skylight windows and is known as the 23-window. A 13-window and 21-window version were produced starting in 1963.
The Type 2 T1 was powered by an air-cooled four-cylinder boxer engine mounted in the rear of the vehicle. This made engine noise and fumes nearly non-existent for the driver and front passenger. The 1.2-liter unit produced a modest 25 horsepower and was capable of carrying the Microbus at highway speeds. Getting up to speed took a while and going uphill was sometimes a challenge. In 1955 the engine was modified to produce 36 horsepower and later increased 40 horsepower in 1959. The 40 hp unit proved to be unreliable so the factory issued a recall and replaced them with another 40 hp versions.
The T1 was produced in Germany until 1967. Brazil produced the T1 until 1975. The T1.5 was produced in Brazil from 1975 through 1996. Type 2 T2
The T2 was the second generation of the Type 2 and introduced in 1968 and stayed in production in Germany until 1979. Mexican began production of the T2 in 1980 and Brazil in 1996. Type 2 vehicles produced before 1971 are known as the T2a
with those produced after 1972 called the T2b
The first visible change over the T1 was the removal of the split window in favor of a single piece of glass. This is the reason why the T2 is often called the Bay-window. The rear suspension was improved and the vehicles weight increased. To help carry this extra load, Volkswagen powered the T2 with a 1.6-liter engine which produced 48-DIN. In 1972, larger engines were available in 1.7-liter and 2.0-liter sizes. To accommodate these larger power-plants, the engine bag grew in size, as did the cooling air inlets. These larger engines are commonly known as the Type 4 engine. The Type 4 engine had been designed for the Type 4 automobiles. Since the Type 2 used the Type 1 (Beetle) engine, there is no Type 2 or Type 3 engine. The Type 4 engine still did not produce an overwhelming amount of power but they were good for lots of low-end torque. They were also remarkably reliable and robust in comparison to the Type 1.
An automatic gearbox came available in 1973 but only with the Type 4 engine option. In 1974, the engine displacement of the Type 4 increased to 1.8-liter and produced 68-DIN. Horsepower in the 2.0-liter version increased in 1976 to 70-DIN. Type 2 T3
The third distinct generation of the Type 2 was the T3 which was built from 1979 to 1991. In Britain and Ireland, these vehicles were known as the T25.
In the United States, these were often called the Vanagon.
The T3 had the same length and height as its predecessor but increased in width by 12cm. Overall weight of the vehicle once again increased. The big changes in this vehicle were the ones unseen. Most of the mechanical components were all new, including the suspension. The rear door of the vehicle grew in size. Many changes were made to comply with increasing safety regulations such as increasing the front crash protection. The design changed as well, becoming more square in shape.
Initially, the same engines used to power the T2 were used to power the T3. It was not until 1981 that a water-cooled diesel engine became available as optional equipment. Three years later, option water-cooled gasoline boxer versions were used to replace the air-cooled ones. The T25 was available with a 1.6- or 2.0-liter air-cooled engine. A 1.9-liter water-cooled engine in various power outputs soon replaced the prior versions. A 2.1-liter unit with fuel-injection was offered as optional equipment for part of the production lifespan of the T25. Diesel and turbo-diesel options were also used.
The T3 Syncro
was a full-time four-wheel-drive version of the T3. Power was sent to the front axle by a viscous coupling when required. Most US-spec vehicles were not outfitted with a front and rear pneumatically operated differential locks; most European versions did.T4 Eurovan
The Eurovan was a big change in comparison to the vans produced in prior years. It had its engine mounted in the front; the first production front-engined van produced by Volkswagen. Some were sent to Winnebago Industries to be converted into Campers. Just as the Type 2, the Eurovan was offered in many different configurations such as the seven-passenger GLS, Weekender, Camper, high-roof panel van, and more. There were two-wheelbases available. With the engine mounted in the front, the TDI diesel engines with direct injection were able to be used to power the vehicle. This greatly increased the vehicles performance and put it on par with some other models available on the market.
The T4 was produced from 1990 through the early 2000s when they were replaced by the T5. This was only one major change during the production lifespan of the T4 which occurred in 1994 when the front end was re-shaped. This changed allowed the VR6 six-cylinder engine to be mounted in the engine bay. This move greatly improved the vehicles performance. Those vehicles that were given this re-shaping were called the T4b
with the versions retaining the original look being dubbed the T4a
In 2003, the Volkswagen T5 Transporter entered the market, but is not available to North American consumers. Microbus Concept
In 2001, Volkswagen introduced the Microbus Concept at the North American International Auto Show. It was designed by the VW design studio in California and featered a design similar to the early Microbus vehicles, but with its engine neatly fitted in the front. This Volkswagen was successful worldwide and reached cult status, especially in the USA, with the name Microbus. This design study redefines this cult with an up-to-date expression of personality and freedom.
Production nearly commenced on the concept, but was halted due to cost problems.
By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2007