Saturday, August 11, 2012

History of the Volkswagen Camper Van

The VW Type 2 also known as the VW Camper was created almost by accident in the 1950s. In the article we run through how it all began, how the Type 2 reach such popularity, and what the future may hold for these iconic vehicles.

The vehicle behind the idea for the Volkswagen Type 2 was not initially meant for public consumption. The production of the Type 1 was in full swing (that's a Beetle to you and me), and a roughly put together wagon for carrying parts around the factory was seen trundling round the site by a Volkswagen importer called Ben Pon. Pon is generally credited with coming up with the idea of another larger vehicle based on the Type 1 floor pan. He began sketching his ideas in 1947, but the VW factory was so busy building Type 1 vehicles there was simply no room to diversify.

When some capacity on the workshops was freed up production of a Type 2 prototype began. In just over 3 months the vehicle had been built, and after some tweaks to help make the vehicle more aero dynamic production started in 1949. Initially the Type 2 was offered in the Kombi format with side windows and removable seats, and the Commercial. Due to its construction it was easy to diversify the Volkswagen Type 2 range to suit a wide range of industries, and in the following years between 1949 - 1952 was also released as a canvas back, a tipper, a milk float, a pick up, a bus and even an ambulance. Of course the Microbus and Caravelle we all know and love today was also part of this range.

The split windscreen first introduced to reduce drag on the original vehicle earned the van the 'Splittie' nickname, however in 1967 this design was replaced by a single sheet of glass and the split screen was lost. Around this time a number of changes were made including the release of bigger engines.

In 1980 the Type 3 was introduced to the market, a larger version of the Type 2 with sharper edges and lines. A number of T3s can be seen on the roads today, and though they do not share the iconic status of the Type 2, many owners are just as proud of their T3 vehicles.

The Type 4 Transporter was the first to use the Transporter title, and many feel the T4 is the best Type 2 evolution since the original, however a sea of T5 owners may disagree. The T4 camper was customised by owners and professionals alike, with Westfalia carrying out customisations for Volkswagen themselves to create a saleable T4 camper van.

The T5 was launched in 2003, and is available in a range of trim levels and with a wide variety of custom options. The T5 camper van can be customised by a number of recognised custom fitters such as California, Westfalia and many others.

VW have seen tremendous success with the Type 2 range, and those that came after it. Still seen today as an iconic vehicle the T2 can command a large price tag, and a spot in the hearts of owners around the world.

Anthony James is a writer specialising in travel and tourism. He grew up on the edge of the New Forest and still lives nearby. The area has always been a wonder to him and he visits frequently for quiet walks and inspiration. He recommends as a friendly local company offering original VW campers for holidays to the New Forest and special occasions.

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