The Evolution of a van...
Six decades of constant innovation has driven the evolution of the newest Volkswagen range.
Volkswagen vans have come a long way since the first Transporter. Launched at the end of the 1940s, this design classic has become a symbol for a generation and set the blueprint for a range of award-winning commercial vehicles.
Today, the iconic Transporter, along with the Caddy and Crafter, is part of a superb van range that'll meet your every possible need. All three vehicle ranges deliver the qualities you have come to expect from Volkswagen: reliability, ruggedness, comfort and effifiency.
Strange to think it all began with a quick, simple sketck by a Dutch Volkswagen importer named Pon.
Original Ben Pon Sketch
'The box on wheels' is born
Dutchman Ben Pon, the world's first Volkswagen importer, was visiting the factory at Wolfsburg, Germany, in 1947 when he spotted workers using a stripped Beetle chassis to move parts around. Inspired by these basic but ingenious vehicles, Pon sketched his design for a Beetle-based van. He called it 'the box on wheels'.
The idea was taken up a year later when Heinrich Nordoff became the firm's general director, and the first van was launched at the 1949 Geneva Motor Show. Called the Transporter, its distinctive smiling face would soon become familiar to millions around the world. Pon and those improvising factory workers had started something huge.
Horsepower and flower power
The Transporter was an overnight success. The world had caught van fever, and by 1956 more than 100,000 vehicles had been sold. A dedicated factory in Germany was opened to cope with the demand.
The Transporter also began to develop in new directions. The iconic camper van joined the line-up in 1951, and by 1960 there were wide-bed, high-roof and double-cab versions of the Transporter.
Then popular culture began to play its part. In the 1960s, the camper van and Transporter were adopted by the hippie generation . They became cult symbols of an alternative lifestyle, and images of vans painted in crazy colours, the CND symbol and psychedelic designs enthrall to this day.
But while the body remained faithful to Pon's sketch, the technology beneath was regularly improved. Millions were ploughed into research and development, and designers and engineers produced a series of innovations and revisions. Thanks to the Transporte's widening popularity, increasing demand and improving technology, the world's growing community of van drivers enjoyed ever greater comfort, safety and performance.
Time to get tough
Throwing off its flower-power image of the previous decade,Volkswagen's range toughened up in the 1970s. The launch of the LT started Volkswagen's move into the large-van sector. The range continued to grow: the smaller Caddy Pick-Up was launched in the UK in 1982; and at the turn of the 1990s, the T4 was launched, a fourth-generation Transporter with a water-cooled engine and front-wheel drive. In 1998, Volkswagen created a dedicated commercial-vehicle division to help give its large and growing number of van customers a dedicated service.
Faithful to the original
Today, there's an extensive range of Volkswagen vans to choose from. They all have a wide range of options, too, so whatever your line of work, there's a van that'll help you get the job done.
Ben Pon has passed away, but his sketch lives through the Transporter, the vehicle that changed for ever the way the world saw vans.