60 Years of the Volkswagen Transporter

In Volkswagen, Volkswagen Videos by Jonathan Humphrey

The clever practical van which helped build Britain and launched a million road trips.

The First Volkswagen Transporter was launched at the Earls Court Commercial Motor Show in 1954.


Simple, clever engineering and more practical than other vehicles back then. The VW T1 marked the start of a revolution in the commercial vehicle industry. Now, celebrating its diamond anniversary, and in a different guise still a top seller for Volkswagen commercial vehicles, model variants such as the camper enjoy cult status across generations of owners.

The philosophy and vision that created the original still holds true. Over the years, the Transporter has helped build businesses and fulfil dreams. Globetrotters to gardeners, beatniks to builders, the Transporter has become the default choice for many.

The Transporter has also been the backbone of Volkswagen’s commercial vehicle business for the past six decades. From humble beginnings – just 786 were sold in its first year in the UK – the Transporter has been a driving force for Volkswagen. In 2013, UK sales of the Transporter reached 18,350 – a record figure that demonstrates the vehicle’s appeal is continuing to grow. Globally, total Transporter production stands at 11.5 million units.


A long time before the VW Transporter made its first appearance on our soil, the concept of a load-carrying vehicle based on a Beetle platform came from Major Ivan Hirst . He was a senior British army officer give the task of re-commissioning Volkswagen factory following the war.The creation of a flat-bed truck  was ordered and know as the Plattenwagen –  it was built to move parts around the factory. This innovative truck caught the eye of a visiting Dutch importer Ben Pon in the mid-1940s, he proposed the idea of developing it into a more panel van version.

It wasn’t until the late 1940s that the factory had the resources to put in into production. Unthinkable today, the T1 went from drawing board to production line in just 13 months. In 1954, having tested the water in Volkswagen’s home market, the Transporter T1 made its public debut at the Earls Court Commercial Motor Show.

It's Good to Share

Recent Volkswagen Posts

Recent Volkswagen Galleries

Recent Posts