Go to the beach in Cornwall, or any campsite, and you’ll immediately notice the camper van most people buy is based on the Volkswagen Transporter – with a traditional pop-top roof, and, if it’s at the beach, surf boards, too, of course.
But why are VW Transporter camper van conversions so popular? Here are some very good reasons…
Although other vans are used for camper conversions, such as the Ford Transit, Fiat Ducato or Toyota Proace, the VW Transporter is still by far the most popular – and probably always will be.
No other van has the same image and heritage or association with campervans.
The Volkswagen Transporter celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2020. It all started with the iconic ‘split-screen’ VW Transporter (T1), first seen as a design sketch and prototype in 1947. It became an icon of freedom as Europeans started travelling more in the 1950’s onwards.
Evolution of an icon
Since the T1 was launched in 1950, there have been several incarnations of the VW Transporter – the T2 (Bay Window), T25/T3, all with the engine at the rear, and then the engine moved to the front for the more modern T4, T5, T6 and now the current T6.1 Transporter – still produced at the Volkswagen factory in Hannover, Germany.
Each type of VW Transporter has become as popular as a camper van conversion as the previous one. The Transporter has built a massive fan base all over the world and still has a massive following with magazines and websites dedicated to it. What other van can say that? Volkswagen doesn’t even have to invest much in marketing the Transporter as a camper van as the image and demand are still so strong.
Legendary Volkswagen durability has helped to make Volkswagen Transporters last longer and travel virtually everywhere.
With so many still on the road, and a 70 year heritage, it’s no wonder people associate campervans with the Volkswagen Transporter!
No other brand seems to be able to beat it in terms of quality, reliability and ‘coolness’.
The VW Transporter is still an iconic design and the most popular camper van that people dream about. Ask anyone to name a campervan, and they’ll say VW or Volkswagen.
The majority of Volkswagen Transporters are sold as commercial vehicles. That’s what it’s been designed for, which means it has to be durable, practical and good to drive.
On an emotional level, it’s just THE campervan to have. Nothing else is quite so cool or iconic.
But on a practical level, it’s always been a convenient size and shape for driving as an everyday car and also as a camper conversion for living in.
The classic VW Transporters may be the perfect image of freedom, but, let’s be honest, when it comes to safety standards, things have progressed a lot in the 70 years it has been in production.
By the time the Transporter changed to having its engine at the front, from the T4 onwards, safety standards had improved. Instead of just having a bit of metal between you and the vehicle in front, airbags and head restraints were being introduced.
The latest good news is that the Transporter T6.1 that’s currently being produced has just received the top Gold medal from Euro NCAP tests of automated driving technologies and the Safety Assist Performance of 19 commercial vehicle vans.
The judges commented: “The Transporter offers consumers the option to buy a wide range of good-performing safety features and earns a gold medal in Euro NCAP’s tests,” and: “The Transporter is amongst the commercial vans that sets the bar for others in 2021.” For reference, the Ford Transit Custom and Fiat Ducato got silver and bronze medals, respectively.
“Home is where you park it”
If you’re wondering which camper to buy, size-wise, it’s good to know that the VW Transporter will fit in a regular parking space and under most car park height restrictions.
A Transporter camper is compact enough to explore more minor roads that wouldn’t be suitable for coachbuilt motorhomes, yet roomy enough to be a home on wheels when you’re camping; hence the immortal advertising strapline: “Home is where you park it.”
Cheaper in the long run
The Volkswagen Transporter has always been positioned as a premium brand in the commercial vehicle and camper van sectors.
That means it usually costs more to buy in the first place. Let’s be honest, for the same price as a VW Transporter camper you can get a coachbuilt motorhome with more space, but it won’t be based on a Volkswagen Transporter and will obviously be a much bulkier proposition.
But the good news is that the popularity of the VW Transporter means your model will have lower levels of depreciation, and will always be in demand if you ever decide to sell.
The final reason for making the VW Transporter camper the most desirable is the incredible community of fans you will become a member of. Don’t be surprised to have other VW Transporter campers give you a wave when you’re on the road. It’s all part of the appeal!
With all these positive factors in favour of the Volkswagen Transporter as a camper conversion, it is easy to see why most people don’t consider anything else.