An Overview of the VW Transporter Series

The VW Transporter series, sometimes referred to as the “T” series started with the T1 and has spanned over 60 years of continuous production. In this guide we’ll give you a brief description of the T1 through T5 and highlight some of the differences between each model. All of the Transporter series are considered light commercial vehicles and can be classified as vans, buses, camper vans and light pickup trucks.

  • VW T1 -The T1’s are the VW buses that have become an American icon. Produced from 1950-1967, the T1’s are also often referred to as “splitties”  or split screens since the windshield is split into two parts.
  • VW T2 – The T2, manufactured from 1967 – 1979 was essentially a T1 with a few cosmetic upgrades. T2’s are sometimes referred to as “bays” since they had bay-like windows. There are still T2’s being manufactured in Brazil under the name Kombi Total Flex and are available as flex fuel vehicles.
  • VW T3 -The T3 is sometimes referred to as a Type 2, or a Vanagon in the US. Manufactured from 1979 – 1992, this was the last model to offer an air cooled engine as VW switched to a water cooled engine in 1984. Camper van versions of the T3 were mainly produced by Westfalia and are often referred to as a “Westy”.
  • VW T4 – The T4 was the first VW to officially have the title of “T”. The other models were named as part of the T series after the introduction of the T4. With the T4, made from 1990 – 2003, VW moved to a front-mounted engine, front wheel drive and continued with a water cooled engine.
  • VW T5 – The T5 is the current Transporter series. The T series received a major overhaul with the T5 in 2009. The T5 now offers options such as a dual clutch transmission, diesel engines and a 7-speed direct shift gearbox. The T5 is sold in North America but only in Mexico.

A number of the T series were available as a VW Transporter truck. However, the “chicken tax”, implemented by President Johnson in 1964 imposed a steep 25% tariff on all imported light trucks. In response, VW (along with a number of other light truck manufacturers) stopped selling the T series transporter trucks in the United States. The “chicken tax” remains in effect today, which is the reason the T5 is not sold in the United States or Canada.

The Transporter series has enjoyed a huge run of popularity. Many VW fans are hopeful that the T series will return to the American market where demand for VW transporters remains strong.

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