Now one of the most coveted retro vehicle models around, the Volkswagen Transporter is definitely the cool kid on the block but it hasn’t always been this way. Celebrating its 66th birthday this year, VW camper vans were once commercial workhorses known for their versatility not their good looks, and whilst the older models have become something of a collector’s item, Volkswagen Group’s sixth generation model, known officially as ‘T6’, is carrying on this tradition.
The history of VW’s T Series
Officially the bestselling van model of all time, the Volkswagen Transporter has sold 12 million units across the globe. From its T1 version, manufactured from 1950 to 1967, to its latest T6 model, introduced this year, the Transporter is an iconic commercial vehicle, and throughout its history has outshone competitors Ford Transit, Toyota Hiace and Mercedes-Benz Vito.
Volkswagen T1s are the first model that comes to mind when we think VW camper, and this was the first generation to kick start production in the Transporter family. Manufactured between 1950 and 1967 in Europe and the US, and from 1950 to 1975 in Brazil, the T1 – which was called Type 2 at the time, as were VW’s T2 and T3 models – was built in Germany and was cutting edge at the time. In addition to its eye catching split windscreen, which has earned the model the nickname ‘Splittie’ in recent years, the T1 incorporated an air cooled engine mounted to its rear, an engine type that was upgraded in 1953 to unlock greater brake horse power (bhp).
Like all of the Transporter range, the T1 was available in a selection of body styles, with the T1 accessible as a 5-door panel van, 5-door minibus, 2-door pickup, or 3-door pickup. More incarnations of the Transporter Series emerged namely the T2 (manufactured from 1967 to 1979), T3 (1979 to 1992), T4 (1990 to 2003), T5 (2003 to 2016) and the T6 (from 2016 to present).
Introducing the T6
The T6 Transporter is the latest model in the series and was released by Volkswagen earlier this year. The sixth generation model has already been named ‘International Van of the Year 2016’ with its range of features already proving popular with commercial business owners. Volkswagen attributes the superior quality of its T6 model to being able to perfect technology across multiple generations and as well as incorporating a new 2.0 TDI and BiTDI diesel engine with the EU6 emissions standards, the larger load capacity and vast choice of seating and compartment options are all features appreciated by their customers.
To improve efficiency and performance further, the T6 uses BlueMotion Technology, which unlocks Start/Stop, regenerative braking and low rolling resistance tyres. Inside the vehicle a touch screen display helps drivers to access yet more technology, including DAB+ radio, Bluetooth, satellite navigation and other driver assistance systems such as a Front Assist with City Emergency Braking System, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), High Beam Assist and Driver Alert.
Celebrate with Volkswagen
With Volkswagen marking two model 66th birthdays this year – the Volkswagen Group celebrates subsidiary SEAT’s 66th birthday this year too – there is much to celebrate! As always there are a variety of regional events in the calendar to celebrate the VW T Series in all its glory – this year’s Southsea BeachBuggin’ event, the ultimate VW show where hundreds of old splitties from all eras gathered in August, was a particular highlight – with Camper Jam, BusFest, Van Fest and Bonaween all offering plenty of family friendly VW fun. The Classic Motor Show and North Devon’s Final Fling are both still to come for 2016.