Volkswagen T3: Levelling Up

Make way for the T3

The T2 gave way to the third generation Transporter in 1979.

Continuing its evolution, the T3 model (commonly referred to as T25) was larger in size and heavier than its predecessors and was ‘boxier’ to look at than those that came before, inching towards the Transporters of today.

Thankfully Volkswagen retained the rear engine and rear wheel drive that made the model so popular. 

Introducing a water-cooled engine

Initially redeploying the air-cooled engines, the T3 was slower to drive and sell, as stiff van competition started arriving from the likes of Mercedes, Renault and Ford.

But things improved dramatically for the T3 when new water-cooled engines were introduced, making the most of its more car-like handling. Diesel engines were also added for this model.

In 1985 things got even more exciting with the introduction of innovations such as catalytic converters, turbochargers and all-wheel drive.  It also offered many add-ons designed for increased comfort such as air con, power steering and heated mirrors: all the mod cons the 80s expected! 

More than 6 million roll off the line

During production of the T3, the Westfalia Camper started to be marketed by Volkswagen as a conversion option including a sink, oven, fridge and pop-up roof – edging even closer to the Transporters we know and love today!

The T3 is also the model that saw the Caravelle and California become popular. The Hanover plant built 1.3 million T3s overall, and by 1985 the Transporter was sold in 180 different markets. In 1986 total sales rolled over six million. 

By 1990 it was time for Volkswagen to evolve again, production of the T3 was stopped to make way for the….wait for it…..T4.


Choose a different model to continue your magical Transporter tour or head to our Guides page for lots more on converting your campervan.

1/5: Photo Show photo list