The History of the VW Camper Van

After World War II a Dutch Volkswagen importer, Ben Pon, came up with the idea of creating a van based on the VW Beetle. It is believed that his inspiration came from visiting the VW factory in Wolfsburg, where he saw a poorly improvised wagon being used to transport parts around the factory.

T2 VW van

Pon’s idea captured the attention of the Volkswagen chief executive Heinz Nordoff, in 1948. The following year, the VW van was born, released to the world at the Geneva Motor Show. This first VW van was known as a Type 2, the Type 1 being the original Beetle. The V found on the front of the very early split screen vans was a simple way to improve aerodynamics which actually made it more aerodynamic than the Beetle.

The simplicity and versatility of the VW van allowed it to be produced in many different forms for many different roles, these included milk floats, ambulances, flatbed pick-ups, delivery vans, buses and of course it’s most popular form as a camper van. The Type 2, along with the 1947 Citroën H Van was two of the very first vans in which the driver was seated above the front wheels.

VW Camper van

In 1967, VW Campervans evolved from having a split windscreen design to having a bay window style windscreen in which the front glass was one large curved piece, wind up windows and a top speed of 80mph. But in 1979 all that personality stopped and was replaced by the wedge, the comfy camper became a bungalow on wheels (hope this does not offend any T25 owners). Later improvements included bigger engines (up to 2000cc) and better reliability – at one point VW gave watches away to owners who managed to do 100,000 miles.

VW Campervans have been popular for generations; they were associated with hippies and baby boomers in the 60’s and 70’s and are still popular today especially with the surfing community. Many people do all sorts of modifications such as the fitting of alloy wheels, lowered suspension, tinted windows and wild paint jobs. There were 5 Million of these vehicles made by VW so they must have done something right when they made the VW Van.