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Van of the Month November 2008
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What is a Split Screen Van?

All the vehicles built between 1951 and 1955 have become known as 'Barn Doors' due to the large rear door that gave access to the engine bay. After March 1955 the transporter looked very different. A separate part-glazed tailgate provided access to the load area at the rear and there was a smaller engine cover below that. A long overdue fresh air ventilation system was added changing the simple look of the front of the vehicle forever. A full width dashboard for all models, rather than just the Deluxe, was added inside the cab. 160,170 transporters had been made by 1955.

In 1956 manufacture of the transporter was relocated to a model-specific factory in Hanover. The first 'walkthrough' from cab to load area models were produced allowing much more flexible use of Kombi, Microbus and camper alike.

The crew-cab or double-cab was added to the range in 1958. However right from the start of transporter production, special models and conversions were available from VW or from other coach-builders of the day. The pre-VW factory Binz crew-cab is one of the most notable.

Production continued with small changes until the next big change in 1963 when the width of the rear upper hatch was increased to aid access. Not a big deal in itself but it meant the end of the rear corner window on the Samba or Deluxe model. The 23-window model was now a 21-window.

Production continued with small performance increases and the odd cosmetic change but the reliable old Splitty was starting to look a bit dated. Here in the UK the Ford Transit started production just as the Splitty era was coming to an end. By 1967 around 1,833,000 transporters had been manufactured and after the annual summer closure of the VW works the second generation of transporter, the Bay-Window entered production.

Production of the transporter also took place in South Africa & Australia where a further estimated 35,000 were built until 1968. In Brazil production continued until 1975 and around 400,000 were built.

The simple design and elegant concept of the transporter was deceptively forward-thinking for its time. A box on wheels capable of carrying 700kg at 55mph all day fully loaded and return 23-32mpg was quite something in the 1950’s. When the 1 tonne van was introduced in the 1960’s, the performance had improved to cope with the extra load and the type 2 remained a very well performing commercial vehicle for its day.