The Volkswagen campervan was sketched in 1947 by a Dutchman called Ben Pon. Pon was visiting the Wolfsburg VW factory at the time with the intention of importing VW Beetles to the Netherlands. Upon completion of his sketch, Volkswagen engineers decided to use it as inspiration for a prototype of a campervan that combined elements of the Beetle with other unique features. The prototype was revealed in 1949 and entered production in 1950, and the original can be found on display at the VW AutoMuseum.
After 12 months in production, VW decided to roll out the Type 2 T1 model which went on sale in 1951 for £668 – equivalent to roughly £17,286 today. Initial sales were much lower than expected with just 786 units sold that same year, however, sales increased rapidly once the camper became more popular.
In 1962, the 1 millionth Transporter was built at the Hannover factory, and within just 6 years, this reached 2 million. Over the next several years, sales soared and production continued to rise in order to meet demand. Until 1981, VW campers were fitted with petrol engines until the eighties when VW decided to fit the campers with the same diesel engines found in the VW Golf.
In 1997, 35 years after the 1 millionth transporter, VW produced their 8 millionth vehicle, including 1 million T4 models. Three years later in 2000, Hannover’s VW factory hit record sales with 178k automobiles being sold in one year, with 139k of which being Transporters, Caravelles, and Multivans.
Since its creation, VW has had over 6 models of campervan over the last 70 years. The most recent models are a far cry from their 1950’s predecessor. It’s left behind its ‘campervan’ qualities and has evolved into a van that offers enough space for it to be converted into a campervan instead.