Back to the future: 60 years since VW Transporter came to UK04 July 2014

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the arrival in the UK of the Transporter panel van.

Transporter T1 was launched in the UK in 1954 at the Earls Court Commercial Motor Show. In its first year, 786 were sold and, as the model has evolved, it has been hugely successful for VW – with variants including the camper van, which still enjoys cult status.

UK sales for 2013 of the Transporter T5, the latest version, surpassed 18,000 and more than 11.5 million Transporters have now been manufactured for global markets.

The vehicle was the brainchild of a British army officer, Major Ivan Hirst, who came up with the idea for a load-carrying vehicle based on the Beetle platform.

Charged with re-commissioning the post-war VW factory, he ordered the creation of a flatbed truck – dubbed the Plattenwagen – to move parts around the factory.

Visiting Dutch importer Ben Pon saw the vehicle in the mid-1940s and proposed a more developed panel van version.

The T1 went into manufacturing in the late 1940s – going from drawing board to production line in just 13 months.

It was replaced by the T2 in 1967 and the T3 in 1979.

In 1990, VW switched to the front-engine, front-wheel drive layout, with the T4.

The latest model, the T5, was launched in 2003.

Laura Cork

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