Type 1 -Split Screen 1950 – 1967
This was the VW first camper van, which was, believe it or not, modified from the VW Beeetle including keeping its distinct rear engine positioning. A real forerunner in the development of modern passenger vans, it was one of only 2 ‘forward control’ vans – where the driver is sat directly above the front wheels.
The first generation of the T2 (subsequently called the T1) had the iconic split windscreen. Production of the T1 ceased in Germany in 1967 but continued in Brazil until 1975, although with not all of the characteristic features.
The most luxurious of the T1s was the Samba, which was produced from 1951. It came with 23 (later to become 21) windows, including 8 windows in the roof, and 2 pivot doors instead of the sliding one and a fabric sunroof. The windows came with chrome tables and the dash was more comprehensive than the standard T1. Production of the Samba ceased when VW started producing the T2.
Type 2 – Bay Window Camper 1967-1979
The most noticible difference between the T1 and T2 is that the T2 lost the iconic split windscreen, which was replaced the bay window. The 1.6l 47bhp engine was also slightly larger. In 1971 the new T2 featured dual intake ports on each cylinder head, increasing the power to 50bhp. Later versions of the T2 gradually increased the engine power up to 70bhp. As well as the superior engine, the T2 also saw the return of the sliding door whilst maintaining its welcoming, rounded shape but with better visibility and more space. A number of contractors provided conversions of the T2 one of the most famous being Westfalia. They began conversions in 1951 and a little later provided the pop-up roof package. A large number of other companies such as Devon, Danbury, Canterbury and Dormobile joined the market too.
Type 3 – (Type 25 VW) – The Vanagon 1979-1992
The VW T25 was the last campervan to use an air-cooled engine, which remained rear mounted but was replaced with a water-cooled engine by 1983. The T3 was larger again and provides considerable space. The shape is much more blocky with very 80’s square styling. It was known as the Vanagon in the USA and is often referred to now as the VW T3. One popular conversion was that done by the contractor Holdsworth, which provided a great use of space with an air of adventure and romance.
Type 4 – 1991-2003
This is known as the Eurovan in the US with camper versions by Westfalia and by Winnebago. This big difference is that the engine is now in the front! This dramatic change means that the T4 has a distinct bonnet.
Type 5 – 2003 – 2015
This van is a direct successor to the T4 so it is a sizeable van. It has a much more aerodynamic design and the reduced angle of the windshield provides more space on the dash. They are not available in the US.