Type 2 Split Screen 1950 – 1967
This was the first VW camper adapted from the VW bus (known as the Samba) – which was adapted from the Volkswagen van. You can recognize the rounded VW camper van with the sweeping V-shape at the front, the enormous VW emblem, the split windshield and the large round headlights as the classic VW Camper.
Production of the first generation split-screen transporters known as type 2 (the Beetle was type 1), started in Wolfsburg for the 1950 model year with a tiny 1100cc air-cooled engine that was borrowed from the Volkswagen Beetle. For comparison: the current Transporter has a choice of four TDI PD diesel engines from 1.9 liters to 2.5 liters.
Volkswagen imported the first VW campervan to the United Kingdom in 1955 and a year later the conveyor production moved to a new factory in Hanover. The campers were equipped by Westfalia, a bodywork company that worked in collaboration with VW for many years. There were a large number of configurations of the furniture and other companies also produced conversions. The campers with a shared screen had the same air-cooled engines as the vans and the same 6-volt electricity.
Type 2 bay window Camper 1967-1980
The larger and larger bay window VW camper had 12 volt electricity, a sliding door on the side and a larger engine. It still had a friendly, rounded shape but with better visibility and more space. More than three million were made during 12 years of production. Westfalia continued to make conversions and a large number of other companies in the UK, such as Devon, Danbury, Canterbury and Dormobile, also came on the market. There are also VW campers that have been converted by small companies and do-it-yourself conversions. On top there were a wide range of pop-ups to give more space – those that go straight up, examples with bellows, side-fixed (they are often Dormobiles) plus the type hinged at the front (wedges) of Devon. Versions of the bay are still in production in Mexico and were produced in Brazil long after VW had stopped production.
Type 25 VW – the Vanagon 1980-1991
The third generation Transporter was introduced in 1979. The VW t25 was larger again and offers considerable space. It was known as the Vanagon in the US and is nowadays often called the VW t3. This model is much more angular with a shape from the 80s. In 1982, after 32 years and with a total production of more than five million vehicles, the Transporter switched from air-cooled to water-cooled engines – but still mounted at the rear.
The Volkswagen T4 1991-2003
The Transporter of the fourth generation was introduced in 1990 and marked a major change. It was the first to have the engine at the front to leave a completely flat cargo space. It is a pronounced wedge, but still a relatively slender shape with a huge amount of space. Autosleeper, Bilbo, Reimo, Danbury and Westfalia all produced camper conversions. The Caravelle is the people carrier and the California is the Westfalia camper. The other conversion companies all have their own name for their model range.
T5 2004 to the present
The current fifth generation Transporter debuted in 2003 and in 2007 rock legends, The Who, were played live during an official event in honor of 60 years of Volkswagen vans that were held in Hannover, Germany. It attracted 71,000 visitors with a great selection of more than 5,000 transport carts and campers. More than 10 million carriers were made during the sixty-year period. VW campervan conversions are produced for every transport model – and by a large number of companies. And then there are also small business and amateur conversions. But now you have a good overview, so you should at least ask what questions you have to ask, when you buy something, or just admire a VW Camper.