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Volkswagen Transporter

Volkswagen Transporter (Germany, 1967-1979)

Volkswagen > Transporter > Gen.2 [T2]
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In the summer of 1967 Volkswagen presents the new, second generation of the Transporter. This new contender has grown; it now has larger window areas, sliding doors and an improved chassis with a double-joint rear axle as standard. The air-cooled boxer engine remains the same but takes up less space.

Engine output increases to 70 PS, increasingly flat engines free up more space in the luggage compartment and for the first time automatic transmission is available. Now more than ever it is not only a Transporter but an MPV too. There is a reason why the generously-furnished versions were christened "Clipper".

The new Transporter also proves to be an ideal basis for a camper van. Only one thing gets in the way. The spare wheel in the back left in a hollow in the luggage compartment, limiting the space available for the bed. Sometimes the wheel is covered in the era's popular check material of the time or a teak-look cupboard is built over it, sometimes a collapsible spare wheel is used, which can be pumped up in emergencies. Most simply, ingenious camper van finishers stowed the fifth wheel at the front of the van in a box on the nose of the Transporter extending the bumper. "Holiday with the VW camper van," the first brochure suggests in January 1968. Four models were already available simply called VW camper vans 60 and 62. Prices for the accommodation facilities start at 1,790 German marks.

The Americans more than anybody were mightily impressed by the compact recreational vehicle from Germany. As early as 1968 an average of 100 camper vans are produced every day. A quarter of the yearly Transporter production sailed over the Atlantic from the port in Emden in huge cargo ships. A total of 30,000 recreational vehicles had been produced since 1951, two thirds for export, mostly to North America.

Production was in full swing. In 1969 the fifty thousandth camper van leaves the band, two years later the hundred thousandth. Westfalia employs more than one thousand people. Americans enjoy nothing better than combining collection of their new camper van with a trip through Europe, touring through Germany, France, and Italy, and then shipping their new van to North America. Around three thousand Americans tour Europe in this way. From 1966 to 1970, exports of camping buses quadruple to almost 20,000 vehicles per year, around 95% of which are specifically for America. In comparison, registrations of Volkswagen camper vans in Germany do not exceed 1,000 cars in Germany until 1969.

In 1972 US exports reach a record level of 72,515. A third of these are camper vans. Westfalia produces up to 125 Volkswagen Transporter conversions each day. During the Olympic Games in Munich in September 1972 a remarkable record is achieved: exactly 243 American tourists pick up their new camping van on just one day. And there is no limit to the variants available. In Europe the models are called Oslo, Zürich, Stockholm, Brüssel, Paris, Rom, Amsterdam, Düsseldorf, and even extend to "Offenbach". The Helsinki becomes legendary with its corner table in the rear. The basic version costs 12,980 German marks in 1973. The American conversions have names like Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Memphis, Oregon and Dallas.

From 1976 the half partitions behind the front seats disappear, giving converters room for lavish design with swivelling front seats. And so the Berlin is born, the design of which is the forerunner of today's California: a folding bench at the back, and a kitchenette and wall units on the left, a layout that is yet to be beaten. In addition, the roof has long since changed: with a pop-up design which no longer opens to the side, but rather to the front or back depending on the design, a concept which is still the benchmark today. For the first time the windows in the living area are double-glazed for better insulation. The legendary louvred vent wing windows improve circulation.

But this is not enough. Volkswagen also expands its range at the same time. In 1957 production of the Volkswagen LT, the big brother of the Transporter, begins. Westfalia presents the Como camper van which gives rise to the legendary Sven Hedin two years later. The large interior width and the unequalled use of space of the LT's interior are ideal prerequisites for a spacious camper van. Sven Hedin wins buyers over with a stand-alone seating group on rails with a big bed in the pop-up roof. It also has separate bathroom facilities at the back left with a hot water installation, both rarities at the time.

The attractive motor home boom in Germany and Europe leads to a wave of new conversion companies. These include Karmann, Tischer and Weinsberg, to name today's most famous names. Insiders will remember Bischofberger, Road Ranger, Syro, Teca, Voll and others which have since disappeared from the camper van market. They all follow Volkswagen's lead. Complete superstructures are now also available instead of pure conversions. In the LT the chassis serves as the basis for the superstructure, while the platform is used in the Transporter because of its rear engine. The possibilities are endless: Transporter dropsides with camper van conversions (Karmann Mobil), LTs as camper buses with an elevating pop-up roof over the entire length of the vehicle. A wave of new business rolls through the industry.



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