In one guise or another, the mighty Volkswagen Transporter has been with us since 1950. Unlike other vans, the Transporter has always been seen as something more than just a load-lugger. It’s cool, it’s fun and it always brings a smile to your face.
Yes, you can use one for work, but you can also use one for fun, and the only limit to that fun is your imagination, because no matter what you ask of it, the Transporter will happily oblige. Camping, European road trips, even a desire to go fast, the Transporter can do it all. That’s why we’ve decided to take a look at it and ponder on ten reasons why we love it so very much!
If something tried to be cool, it inevitably fails. The coolest things in life evolve into it and earn the title. The VW Transporter is a perfect example of that. When VW was designing it back in the late 1940s, it had no desire to make it cool. It just wanted to offer the world a simple, practical van. The coolness just evolved, without trying. And that’s special. You can’t force cool.
Okay, so the most modern models might be a bit trickier, given all the electronics, but buy one from, say, the year 2000 or earlier and you’re going to be faces with a simple ‘nut and bolt’ vehicle that you can spanner on yourself without too much concern. Go even earlier and get an air-cooled model, and things are even simpler. You don’t need to be a master mechanic to own one.
Because the Transporter has been around for so long, and because it’s used by all kinds of people for all kinds of jobs, the modification options have grown. There is divers, rich market out there that will let you turn your Transporter into whatever you want it to be. Camper, minibus, van, all three at once. There are no limits.
So you can modify it, and that’s good. But the Transporter is more than that. Its van dimensions mean that modifications aren’t just visual. You have all that space, meaning you can have your Transporter be anything. If you want to rack it out for work, great, but if you want to make a plush camper, you can. If you want a mobile shop, a parts hauler or a mobile office, it can do it all.
The big selling point of the Transporter has always been its ability to be more than a van. A modern Transporter, for example, is not a rare sight on suburban driveways. It’s a perfect family car, too. You can buy them with seats throughout, and carpet, and air con, and a nice stereo. And they’re safe, reliable and economical. Not to mention immensely practical. It’s all the car you will ever need.
You don’t need to spend all your money at the expensive local VW dealer – the Transporter has spawned an army of specialists, each ready and waiting to help you look after, restore or modify your Transporter, new or old. And these people are passionate and brimming with the kind of knowledge a main dealer can only dream of. Not many cars can boast that.
You’re never going to set a land speed record in a Transporter, that’s a given. You might also think that you’re not going to be comfortable, what with it being a van. You’d be wrong though. The Transporter, especially in its most modern form, is a delight to drive. Light, responsive, smooth. It’s not a clattery builder’s van.
The most modern Transporters can be re-mapped with ease, which ups the power considerably. Old, air-cooled models, however, go one step further. There are conversion kits out there that allow you to put the turbocharged engine from a Subaru Impreza in the back, or if you want to keep things German, how about a Porsche engine? Yes, the Transporter can be one fast van.
Much like being cool, you can’t force something to be an icon. It’s an organic thing that’s earned over time. The Transporter has done that, and now it’s a design classic. Say VW and the Transporter pops into your head, especially in the case of the older, air-cooled models. And the same models are ingrained in pop culture. From Back to the Future to Little Miss Sunshine, the VW has been on our screens for decades.
New or old, the Volkswagen Transporter holds its value exceptionally well, and far better than any of its peers. Buy an old one that needs some love, spend the time and money making it special and you’ll almost certainly make your money back. Of course, it’s not all about money, but at the same time, it’s nice to know you have a car that’s making it, rather than losing it.