Techno Classica: 65 Years a Best-Seller and 30 Years with All-Wheel Drive

Hannover, Essen: At this year’s Techno Classica in Essen (15 – 19 April, 2015), Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is celebrating in hall 7 not one, but two anniversaries. Firstly it was 65 years ago that worldwide sales began of the first VW camper and secondly it was 30 years ago that all-wheel drive provided optimum traction for the first time in this model series.

On 8 March 1950, after just two years of development, full production began, at ten vehicles per day, of a best-seller that would go on to conquer the world. Its simple name: the Type 2 – colloquially soon known in England as the Camper, in America as the Bus and in Germany as the Bulli. This second model line from Wolfsburg was based on components from the Beetle – above all on the 1.2-litre, flat four-cylinder engine delivering 24 PS. A new element, by contrast, was the self-supporting body with a ladder frame that gave it sufficient rigidity to shoulder a payload of 750 kilograms. The Type 2 was available as a Kombi or panel van, with seats or cargo space.

Around 35 years after it first appeared, the third generation of the Transporter saw the start of the era of the all-wheel drive versions. Its name: syncro. Equipped with a Visco clutch, this all-wheel drive variant enhanced the constantly growing Transporter range for the next 18 years. Deliberations about a 4×4, on the other hand, stretch back further still. The first thoughts on the subject were already taking tangible shape back in the mid-1970s. That led in 1978 to the construction of five prototypes with switchable front-wheel drive, which were put through extensive testing in the Sahara. The ‘Relief’ for the early all-wheel drive versions came in the shape of the T5. As of 2003, a Haldex clutch looked after the distribution of power to the axles. Since then, the all-wheel drive Volkswagen Transporter has answered to the sobriquet ‘4MOTION’.

Today, the all-wheel drive models are the most sought-after in every generation. In the case of the T3, in particular, there is a very dedicated group of enthusiasts that developed due, above all, to the legendary 16-inch Syncro, a vehicle that gave any 4×4 as good as it got as a result of features including bigger off-road wheels, raised ground clearance and a short first gear. Representing the start of each range, there will be a Transporter from 1950 and a Caravelle GL syncro to be seen on the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles stand. As has become tradition, the ‘Becks Bulli’ and the ‘Currywurst Bulli’ will, of course, also be inviting visitors to stop for a while.