The History of the Volkswagen Transporter.



The history of the VW goes back to pre 2nd world war Germany. Adolf Hitler

was apparently influenced by Henry Ford whilst in prison during 1923. Then in

1933 Hitler became chancellor and at the Berlin auto show his intentions to get

Germany motoring. Then a year later at the 1934 show he stated that his

government would support the development of a 'peoples car'.


Ferdinand Porsche had a vision of a mass produced vehicle that was affordable

to the average German, an idea that appealed to Hitler. Impressed by Porsche's

design capabilities, Hitler delivered him the design brief of a car that could carry

two adults and three children at 60mph withabout 33 mpg. Porsche was not

convinced, but considered the project a challenge, and took it on.











Around 1936 the development program was transferred to the Nazi German

Labour Front who would use German workers contributions to pay for a new

factory. Meanwhile Porsche visited the US to view some of the production

methods used there, and recruited some German immigrant engineers who had

worked in these factories.


On the 26 May 1938, Hitler ceremoniously laid the cornerstone of the new

factory. It was here that Hitler declared that the model would be known as

the 'KdF-Wagen' and the surrounding town that was built to support the

factory would be known as the 'KdF-Stadt', production was to start in

September 1939 - this turned out to be the same month that World War

Two was declared.



As the War started up, the KdF-Wagen was put on hold and production

changed to military vehicles. The 'Kubelwagen' used the tried and tested

and very successful chassis and air-cooled engine developed for the

peoples car. In 1942 the Kubelwagen was joined by the Schwimmwagen.


For most of the war, the KdF plant had managed to escape heavy bombing.

Near the end of the war the factory was used to manufacture the unmanned

aircraft V1 bomber and the factory became a main target for the allied

bombing raids and after several bombing raids by the US, the factory in ruin.


The 2nd world war ended and Hitler committed suicide in 1945, the task

was now to rebuild Germany. The Kdf factory fell under control of the British,

and Major Ivan Hirst restarted the production of the beetle. The Kdf-stadt

was renamed Wolfsburg, taking its name from the nearby castle.



Major Hirst and his team required a small vehicle to move parts around the

factory, they constructed a flatbed vehicle based on a beetle chassis, known

as a Plattenwagen. This vehicle was basically a platform on wheels, with the

drivers seat and controls at the rear directly above the engine.


In 1946, Ben Pon (the first VW beetle importer) visited the VW factory in

Wolfsburg, where he noticed the odd looking Plattenwagen shuttling parts

around the factory, in his notepad he made the first sketch of his idea for the

Volkswagen Transporter.



Ben Pon returned to Wolfsburg in 1947 with ideas of what a transporter

could look like. His notes stated that the vehicle should carry 1500lb and

the driver and the controls be mounted at the very front. Development

began about 1948 when Heinz Nordhoff (Volkswagenwerks Director)

took control of the factory and gave the go-ahead for development of the

transporter. The first prototype blueprints were produced and the model

which was chosen had a curved front and no overhanging peaked roof.



Through the experimental stages of the Volkswagen transporter, it was

known as a Type 29. But Volkswagen dropped the second digit when

they introduced the all-new Volkswagen to the world in 1949.

Thus becoming the world famous Type 2, or Bulli. 


The first production Type 2 (Chassis 20-00-001) came off the line on

the 8th of March 1950 at Wolfsburg. By 1954, production of the

transporter at Wolfsburg was at maximum and plans of another factory

to increase the production were set in motion.


The new factory was built at Hannover and the first transporter came

off its assembly line on the 9th of March 1955 (chassis number 171056).

On the 19th April 1956 all transporter production at the Wolfsburg plant

was ceased and transfered over to Hannover (from chassis number 178004).


Splitscreen transporter production continued for 17 years (1950 to 1967),

only with small changes through out all those years. In August 1967

production of the splitscreen ceased to make way for the new shape

transporter commonly known as the bay.



Significant Dates for the Volkswagen Transporter.



12th November 1949 ~ Volkswagen launch the Type 2.


08th March 1950 ~ Introduction of the Commercial Vehicles.


22nd May 1950 ~ Introduction of the Microbus.


01st June 1951 ~ Introduction of the 8 & 9 Seater Deluxe Microbus Samba.


13th December 1951 ~ Introduction of the Ambulance (Krankenwagen).


25th August 1952 ~ Introduction of the Single Cab Pick-Up.


10th March 1953 ~ Deluxe Microbus gets rear bumper.


09th October 1954 ~ 100,000th Transporter.


04th March 1955 ~ Introduction of peeked roof and full width dashboard.


March 1956 ~ Volkswagen Hanover Factory begins production.


13th September 1956 ~ 200,000th Transporter.


03rd November 1958 ~ Introduction of the Double Cab Pick-Up.


25th August 1959 ~ 500,000th Transporter.


20th September 1962 ~ 1,000,000th Transporter.


July 1963 ~ The last small rear window model (1-144-281)


August 1967 ~ End of 17 year Production. ~ The last Splitscreen ever made was chassis no. (217-148-459).