VW Bus

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Volkswagen bus
Manufacturer: Volkswagen
Production period: 1950 – today
Previous model: none
Successor: none
VW bus in the Zeithaus
Plate wagon from 1946 built for transport within the VW plant - the origin of the VW bus

VW bus or VW transporter is the name of by Volkswagen -plant VW type 2 -mentioned pickup truck , the second civilian Volkswagen after as VW type 1 designated Beetle . The VW bus is also known as the Bulli .

In 1948 the first prototype of the VW bus was built. Series production of the first model began in 1950. The sixth generation of the T6 has been in production since 2015 ; the previous models are called T1 , T2 , T3 , T4 and T5 . The T7 is to be presented in 2020 and launched on the market in 2021. As of the T4 model, the type 2 series designation was given up by Volkswagen. After the VW Beetle ( Type 1 ) and the VW bus (Type 2) discussed here, Volkswagen launched the mid-range VW 1500 ( VW Type 3 ) sedan in 1961 , which was followed in 1968 by the larger VW 411 ( VW Type 4 ) .

The VW Transporter is offered as a minibus , panel van and flatbed truck . The T4 was voted Van of the Year in 1992 and the T5 in 2004 . The VW Microbus , presented by Volkswagen as a concept vehicle in 2001 , whose design was reminiscent of the T1 / T2 series of the 1950s and 1960s, was not produced.


The idea for the car is attributed to the Dutch VW importer Ben Pon senior , who had seen the "panel wagons" used for internal transport at the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg . For the in-house transport of goods, discarded Beetle test chassis were converted and provided with simple wooden panels as a loading area.

At Ben Pon's suggestion, a van with a lot of space and a payload of 750 kg was to be built on a conventional car chassis. The Type 1 platform frame was not suitable for this, but the engine, transmission and the principle of the Beetle front axle were adopted. The rear axle with wheel submitted to was similar to the jeep VW Type 82, so that the final drive ratio of the beetle could be used. However, the ring gear had to be installed on the opposite side as on the Beetle. Designer Alfred Haesner planned a self-supporting body. One shortcoming of the first test vehicles was the high air resistance and the resulting excessive consumption. The front was then slightly rounded, so that the drag coefficient (C w ) fell to 0.44 and the consumption with the 25 hp engine was around 10 l / 100 km.

The common short form "Bulli" was one of nine suggested names for the car. How it came about is not documented. Among other things, a word formation from suspected Bu s and Li eferwagen or a description of the burly shape of the car. The name was not officially introduced because those responsible feared a legal dispute with Heinrich Lanz AG due to a possible risk of confusion with their protected brand "Bulldog". In addition, Kässbohrer Geländefahrzeug AG had the rights to the word marks “Bulli” and “Bully”, but sold them to the VW Group on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the van. The official "handover" took place at the VW Bulli meeting on October 6, 2007 in Hanover.

Since 1994 the annual bus festival has been held at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern, England, as the world's largest gathering of VW bus friends.

T1 (1950–1967)

VW T1 panel van.jpg

VW T1 panel van

Production period: 1950-1967
Designs: Minibus , box truck , flatbed truck
Engines: Petrol engines :
1.1–1.5 liters
(18–32 kW)
Length: 4280-4290 mm
Width: 1750-1800 mm
Height: 1920-1940 mm
Wheelbase: 2400 mm
Payload: 0.86-0.93 t
Perm. Total weight: 1.75-2.07 t

Series production of the Volkswagen Type 2 T1 began in March 1950 at the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg with the panel van. A characteristic of the T1 is the front with V-shaped ribs , the large VW emblem and the split windshield . The driver and front passenger doors had sliding windows with toggle latches and a narrow vent window each.

The technology of the T1 was largely taken over from the VW Beetle : rear-wheel drive with an air-cooled 4-cylinder boxer engine that initially produced 25 hp. The rear pendulum axle and the front double crank arm axle were sprung by means of torsion bars , at the rear a torsion bar (round bar) each on the left and right, and at the front two “spring packages” one above the other. The car had drum brakes front and rear. In contrast to the Beetle, the self-supporting body was reinforced with transverse and longitudinal profiles to accommodate the initially 760 kg and later up to a tonne payload. The steering wheel was flat and larger than the Beetle.

Sales of the van developed so successfully that on March 8, 1956, production was relocated from the parent plant in Wolfsburg to the new VW plant in Hanover .


  • Flatbed truck with simple cabin (with normal or widened loading area)
  • Flatbed truck with double cab
  • Box van
  • Minibus or station wagon with up to nine seats including driver (13 windows including windows in the doors)
  • Bus special model ("Samba bus" with 23, later 21 windows and a folding sunroof)
  • Emergency vehicles including ambulances (with special bodies from third-party manufacturers)
  • Sales car with high roof and side flap
  • Camper van with camping equipment (with scissors pop-up roof or later folding roof with inner tent and two additional beds on the roof level)

T2 (1967–1979)

Vw transporter t2a v sst.jpg

VW T2 Transporter

Production period: 1967-1979

Until 2013 in Brazil

Designs: Minibus , box truck , flatbed truck
Petrol engines : 1.6–2.0 liters
(35–51 kW)
Length: 4420-4505 mm
Width: 1720-1765 mm
Height: 1960-2290 mm
Wheelbase: 2400 mm
Payload: 0.98 t
Perm. Total weight: 2.25-2.30 t

The successor T2 was introduced in 1967. The concept of the predecessor was retained and the technology of the chassis and body was further improved. Like its predecessor, the T2 was manufactured at the VW plant in Hanover. Of the approx. 2.5 million T2 produced in Germany, over two thirds were exported.

The new transporter had a more comfortable driver's cab with an undivided windshield and crank windows, from 1972 a different steering gear, a trailing arm rear axle and a more powerful engine. The dashboard with glove compartment was larger and designed with additional ventilation nozzles. The sliding side door was standard.

From model year 1968 (August 1967) all T2 had a dual-circuit brake system and from August 1970 disc brakes on the front axle. In the following year, a more powerful engine, the "flat engine" as in the VW Type 4 (VW 411), was added to the range, which initially produced 66 hp (49 kW) from a displacement of 1.7 liters. With this engine, the Transporter could also be equipped with a three-stage automatic from 1972. With a reinforced chassis and 1.2 tons payload, the car was available from 1974. From 1975 until the end of production in 1979, the T2 was offered with the 1600 engine and 50 PS (37 kW) or a 70 PS (55 kW) 2-liter flat engine (the latter also with a three-stage automatic on request).


  • Closed box van with 5 m 3 loading space and 4.1 m 2 loading area (later also as a high-volume box van with 6.2 m 3 space and the same area, also with 1.57 m high sliding door; standard: 1.225 m)
  • Combination with two additional windows per side with or without rear seating
  • Minibus ("VW Passenger Transporter") with up to nine seats including driver
  • Flatbed truck with a simple cabin and 4.3 m 2 loading area (2.7 × 1.57 m), including 0.7 m 3 loading space - 0.34 m high, 1.3 m wide and 1.6 m deep (“Tresorraum ")
  • Large wooden platform with 5.2 m 2 wooden loading area from Westfalia (2.82 × 1.85 m) and "safe room" like the platform truck
  • Six-seater flatbed truck with double cab and 2.9 m 2 loading area (1.85 × 1.57 m), without “vault”, with rear bench removed: 1.8 m 3 loading space or 1.4 m 2 area
  • Special / emergency vehicles including ambulances (from third-party manufacturers with special bodies as tippers, isothermal vans, deep-freeze vans, with lifting platforms, etc.)
  • High-rise sales car with a large side flap that can be set up instead of a sliding door
  • Camper van with camping equipment (with pop-up roof and two additional beds on the roof level)

T3 (1979-1992)

Vw t3 s sst.jpg

VW T3 Transporter

Production period: 1979-1992
Designs: Minibus , box truck , flatbed truck
Otto engines : 1.6–2.1 liters
(37–82 kW)
Diesel engines :
1.6–1.7 liters
(37–51 kW)
Length: 4570-4636 mm
Width: 1844 mm
Height: 1735-2085 mm
Wheelbase: 2455-2480 mm
Payload: 0.61-1.24 t
Perm. Total weight: 2.0-2.7 t

The successor to the T2, the T3 , was introduced in 1979. With the considerably more spacious and angular body, the rear-wheel drive concept of the predecessor was retained, and the two air-cooled engine models were also initially adopted from the predecessor. The chassis has been redesigned and the interior has been designed differently. With the “ Syncro ” model presented at the end of 1984, a transporter with (permanent) all-wheel drive was available for the first time . With the exception of these "Syncro" models, which Steyr Daimler Puch built in Graz (Austria) on behalf of VW, all T3s were manufactured at the VW plant in Hanover.

In the third generation of the Transporter, too, Volkswagen stuck to the longitudinally installed rear engines for reasons of cost. The new T3 was much more spacious; The wheelbase and car length have been increased by around 60 mm. A water-cooled diesel engine was available from the beginning of 1981; in autumn 1982 the gasoline engines were also converted to water cooling. In the course of the 1980s, the range was expanded to include a turbodiesel engine, petrol engines with gasoline injection and exclusively equipped models such as the Caravelle Carat . Most recently there were Multivan special models on the German market with more sophisticated equipment as Whitestar (white) and Bluestar (light blue metallic). In October 1990, the rear-wheel drive models were replaced by the VW T4 with front-engine and front-wheel drive.

Until the autumn of 1992, the complete range of Syncro buses were manufactured by Steyr Daimler Puch AG in Austria and in small numbers (parallel to the T4) official vehicles without all-wheel drive. When the T3 was finally phased out, VW brought out a final special model of the Multivan as a "Limited Last Edition" (LLE) limited to 2500 pieces. In addition, there was a smaller number of the special models Redstar (red) and Bluestar (now in dark blue metallic), which were only available to factory employees. In South Africa, the T3 continued to be built as the Microbus and Caravelle until the summer of 2003, but only as a right-hand drive and only sold on the South African and Namibian markets.


  • Closed box vans (also as high-space box vans with normal or high sliding doors)
  • Combination with two additional windows on each side with or without rear seating (also as a high-space combination with normal sliding door)
  • Bus (from 1983 as Caravelle) with up to nine seats including driver
  • Multivan (from 1985) with six seats, sleeping bench, curtains and cool box
  • Flatbed truck with simple cabin, under the flatbed load space ("vault")
  • Large wooden platform with wooden loading area from Westfalia and "safe room" as in the platform truck
  • Six-seater flatbed truck with double cabin and small "vault"
  • Special / emergency vehicles including ambulances and fire brigade (also from third-party manufacturers with special bodies as tippers, isothermal vans, deep-freeze vans, with lifting platforms, etc.)
  • High-rise sales car with a large side flap that can be set up instead of a sliding door
  • Camping bus ("Westfalia" / Joker / " Dehler ") with camping equipment or office equipment (with high or pop-up roof and two additional beds on the roof level)

T4 (1990-2003)

Vw multivan.jpg

VW T4 Multivan

Production period: 1990-2003
Designs: Minibus , box truck , flatbed truck
Otto engines : 1.8–2.8 liters
(49–150 kW)
Diesel engines :
1.9–2.5 liters
(44–111 kW)
Length: 4707-5107 mm
Width: 1840 mm
Height: 1940-2430 mm
Wheelbase: 2920-3320 mm

With the introduction of the T4 (internal VW model designation: Type 7D) from August 1990 - a completely new design - the era of rear-wheel drive and rear-engine came to an end after 34 years at the Volkswagen plant in Hanover.

The T4 was the first VW van model that was available with two different lengths of body and wheelbase. The new drive concept with a transverse in- line engine with drive for the front wheels had the main advantage of a continuous loading area.

T5 / T6 (since 2003)

T5 / T6
VW Multivan 1.JPG

VW T5 Multivan (2003-2009)

Production period: 2003 – today
Designs: Minibus , box truck , flatbed truck
Otto engines : 2.0–3.2 liters
(85–178 kW)
Diesel engines :
1.9–2.5 liters
(62–150 kW)
Length: 4892-5292 mm
Width: 1904-1959 mm
Height: 1935-2476 mm
Wheelbase: 3000-3400 mm

The T5 came on the market in 2003. Extensive facelifts were carried out in 2009, 2015 and 2019. For the second facelift, the vehicle was renamed T6 , and for the third, T6.1 . In contrast to the predecessor T4 , the side parts from the T5 onwards are now pressed from a single sheet metal part, eliminating the need for a vertical seam between the sheet metal parts. The now joystick-like gearshift lever is relocated to the control panel at the driver's seat and operates the gearbox via cables.

Model names ex works: Caravelle (minibus), Multivan (people carrier) and California (mobile home). The T5-based California has been manufactured by Autovision (now Volkswagen Group Services), a 100% VW subsidiary, since 2004.

Film appearances, art

Like the Beetle, the VW bus had various film and television appearances, even if not in leading roles, but in “supporting” roles. In addition, the bus appeared in various advertising posters and clips. A selection are:

Joseph Beuys ' work of art Das Rudel contains sledges that come out of the tailgate of a Bulli.

Famous VW bus drivers

  • Gerhard Schröder (* 1944), politician and lobbyist
  • Walter Röhrl (* 1947), rally driver
  • Rainer Offergeld (* 1937), politician, drove a T2b as an SPD campaign vehicle from 1976 to 1977
  • Johannes Rau (1931–2006), politician, drove a T3 with an Oettinger WBX6 as an SPD campaign vehicle in 1986

Related models from VW

Like the New Beetle from 1994, VW developed the VW Microbus in a retro design in 2004 as a reminiscence of the T1 / T2 family of the 1950s and 1960s. The planned series production was postponed. The prototype was shown at various vehicle exhibitions.

In the commercial vehicle sector, the model range was supplemented by the VW LT (1975-2006) and its successor, the VW Crafter (since 2006).

The VW Fridolin was a cross between the Beetle and its offshoots VW Karmann-Ghia , VW Type 3 and VW T1 .

Another pickup truck from the VW group was the very simple Hormiga , which was produced for developing countries in the 1970s.


Web links

Commons : Volkswagen Type 2  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. VW T7: The next bus will arrive in 2021 autobilde.de, October 31, 2019
  2. ^ Jürgen Lewandowski: VW - types and history . Steiger Verlag, Augsburg 1998, ISBN 3-89652-126-8 , p. 28.
  3. An idea makes history . Volkswagen Chronicle, published by Volkswagen Public Relations, Wolfsburg 1992, print number 375.802.194.00, p. 20.
  4. a b Steiger, Wirth, wines: Transporter of the economic miracle . Heel Verlag, Königswinter 1996, ISBN 3-89365-464-X , pp. 8-14.
  5. Stern: Name dispute . Accessed March 5, 2014
  6. Autorevue: VW Bulli . Accessed March 5, 2014.
  7. Bernd Wiersch: The VW Bulli. The transporter legend for people and loads. Delius Klasing, Bielefeld 2009, ISBN 978-3-768-82579-5 .
  8. Visitor damages Beuys artwork with sticker of.at, July 5, 2017, accessed July 7, 2017.
  9. spiegelonline: Thieves cracked Schröder's family carriage
  10. Spiegel Online: Gasoline conversation with Walter Röhrl