T1 to T6

A VW Campervan Road Trip | Swansway Group

The VW Campervan is recognised throughout the world. From surfing staycations to family vacations, this VW minibus has served us well, in one form or another, for nearly seven decades. Whether you’ve got a ​Bulli, a ​Splitty, a ​Bay or a classic ​V-dub Van , climb aboard as we travel through the years to explore the history of the iconic VW Campervan as it makes its way to become today’s ​California Beach or Ocean T6 Campervan.

1949

1949 – T1

The Type 2 Transporter is unveiled at a press conference based on a design from sketches provided by Dutchman, Ben Pon following his visit to the VW plant in Wolfsburg, Germany. This T1 used a VW Beetle (Type 1) engine and axle, and mimicked the basic vehicles used to transport parts around the shopfloor.

It has 4 rows of 2 seats, with the last 2 rows being removable to allow extra loading space. The automotive world is collectively amazed by the fact that the driver is seated directly over the front wheels, improving view of the road and maximising interior space

“Celebrity VW Campervan owners have included Jamie Oliver, Jenson Button, Richard Hammond and Ewan McGregor.”

1950

1950 – T1

The T1 goes into production in Germany, with VW committing to build ten buses per day. The new van already possesses the now familiar ​round headlights, a split windscreen, and that famous VW logo. Nicknamed ​Bulli to describe it’s beefy build or ​Splitty to account for the split windscreen the VW Campervan is already making its way into the hearts of Europeans.

Unlike the windowless Transporter, the ​kombi variation has 2 side windows, and the ​Samba which follows in 1951 boasts 23 windows located all of the way around the bus (with the 2 rear windows disappearing in models built after 1963).

1954

1954 – T1

The Transporter is finally available as a left hand drive in the UK, priced at £668 (a competitive £17,000 in today’s money). Just 786 vans are sold this year but popularity quickly increases and VW struggles to keep up with demand.

As things begin to pick up, VW to builds a fourth manufacturing plant in Germany and a factory in Brazil to cope with demand.

“In 1962, sales of the VW Transporter reach ONE MILLION!”

1968

1968 – T2

The roll out of T2 (the ​Bay) sees the end of ​Splitty as the split windscreen is ditched in favour of a single window. Retaining the same distinctive looks as the T1, the new model hides an entirely new van under its chunky body.

New suspension and a stabilising bar creates a more comfortable ride and a new engine allows the now aging VW Campervan to keep up with newer vehicles on the roads.

“The most expensive VW T2 Campervan, a 1955 Samba, sold for an incredible $235,000 in 2014 (around £183,000).”

From 1971, Volkswagen begins to increase the engine options for the T2, introducing a 1.6-litre (50 bhp) engine which was quickly followed by a 1.7-litre (66 bhp) engine in 1972 and 2.0 (70 bhp) engine in 1974.

A model refresh in 1973 introduces the ​Late Bay​to the now highly competitive campervan market. Better brakes and a more angular bumper as well as an optional, more powerful engine are now included.

1979

1979 – T3

The Westfalia version of the T3 VW Campervan hits the roads with integrated cooking hob, sink and pop-up roof. Tough competition prompts increasingly frequent improvements including a diesel (VW Golf) engine option in 1981 and the expansion of the range to include a new ​Samba called the ​Caravelle in 1983 that could be more easily converted into a comfortable living space.

Other developments include the move from an air-cooled to a water-cooled engine in models post-1983 and the addition of the 4-wheel-drive ​Syncrooo in 1985 which was followed by a complete overhaul to produce the ​California in 1988.

“If all of the VW campervans ever sold were placed end to end, the queue would wrap right around the world, with a few left over.“

1991

1991 – T4

Time for the T4 and a completely new style which relocates the engine to the front of the vehicle, creating a sloping nose to go with the longer, lower and narrower body. Available in both petrol and diesel, the more powerful engine options make this new van perfect for the commercial market although a ​Caravelle option is also available.

By 1997, one million of the new T4 Transporter vans have been sold, contributing to the sales total of 8 MILLION VW Campervans.

“VW Campervans have starred in several movies including Little Miss Sunshine, Argo, Back to the Future, Field of Dreams and as Fillmore in the Cars movies.“

2003

2003 – T5

A year after making its first appearance, the larger VW T5 comes to the market in both Transporter​and ​Caravelle models, with a mixture of both petrol and diesel engines. The ​California also makes a reappearance. Now built in-house at VW’s own factory in Hanover, it’s all you could want from a motorhome complete with creature comforts including fold away tables, seats and beds, as well as the kitchen sink!

A budget version, California Beach, is introduced; replacing the kitchen with wider seating/lower bed and the electric roof with a manual one. By 2013, all-time sales of the VW Campervan reach 10 MILLION!

“The world’s fastest VW Campervan is a T5 2.5 TDI van capable of 191 km/h (119 mph), thanks to a 340 hp Porsche 911 engine under the bonnet!”

2015

2015 – T6

The T6 is here! The ultimate VW Campervan with two separate sleeping compartments, comfortably accommodating four adults. This new model retains all of the great benefits of the T5, and then some!

Available with a choice of two 2.0-litre diesel engines, the California Beach and California Ocean come with all of the gadgets you’d expect from any modern car… Bluetooth connectivity, Start-stop functionality and a ream of safety features.

A combined mpg of around 45 also makes this the perfect home from home for those economical camping excursions.

“At a max speed of 120 mph, the new VW T6 Campervan can go nearly twice as fast as the original 65 mph T1 Transporter van.”

“A full T6 Campervan fuel tank contains enough diesel for a road trip from any Swansway VW Van Centre to surfing capital Newquay, Cornwall… and back again!”

While it’s hardly recognisable from the original VW Campervan, the VW T6 Campervan shares the same sense of fun and craving for adventure…

Why not plan your adventure at your local Swansway Group VW Vans dealership?

We’ll give you honest advice on how you can get your road trip off to a great start with a VW T6 Volkswagen California Beach or Ocean Campervan.