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VW T3 Multivan in the driving report: the best car in the world?

Mutschler, Hardy
VW T3 Multivan in the driving report
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We catch the last VW T3 Multivan at the Volkswagen car museum in Wolfsburg. The VW Type 2 T3 Multivan bears badge 2500 from 2500. This makes it the last of the Last Limited Edition (LLE) series, which was only available in metallic orly blue or tornado red. The smell of production still wafts in the VW T3 Multivan, its speedometer identifies it as a 15-year-old new car at 736 kilometers. He has not yet learned much about the world. It's time for the T3 Multivan to see the sea.

Square, practical - and 16.6 cubic meters of space

We balance our entire luggage - after all, a whole Opel Zafira full - in the VW T3 Multivan, and it is lost in the depths of its cargo space. Later we will throw two surfboards afterwards, which makes no difference. At its northern end, the waist-high trunk of the VW T3 Multivan is bounded by a three-seater rear-seat couch.

If the seats of the two VW T3 Multivan armchairs opposite are folded up, the rear passengers have more legroom than in a Maybach 62. And even a Rolls-Royce Phantom doesn't get out of its stately portals as gracefully as the Multivan through its sliding side door. The dimensions of the VW T3 Multivan multiply to form a box with the volume of 16.6 cubic meters. That comes quite close to the real space available. Because the VW T3 Multivan is not a van with a long, gently sloping nose, but a panel van. Its design, as ornate as that of a night storage heater, maximizes space thanks to the front-link rear-engine layout.

In itself, the third transporter generation from 1979 and not just the T4 from 1990 should have front-wheel drive and front-engine. But because the VW budget is limited, the VW T3 remains with the drive concept that the first Type 2 used from 1950. This tradition is not as well received by customers as Volkswagen had hoped. But the group stubbornly sticks to the VW T3 and begins to tinker with it. In 1981 he bought him a diesel, in 1982 the lame and thirsty air-cooled boxer engines were replaced by lame and thirsty 1.9-liter water boxers. In 1984 there was the turbodiesel, one year later VW presented the top engine for the T3, the 2.1-liter WBX and: the VW T3 Multivan.

The T3 Bulli is shorter than an Audi 100

The VW T3 Multivan is not a motorhome to drive withcan also travel from time to time, but a motorhome in which one can also live. VW furnishes it with, among other things, the rear bench seat that can be folded down to form a double bed and a folding table around which the five rear seats are grouped. That is not enough for the annual vacation in the permanent camper paradise - which is definitely a plus point. We climb into the VW T3 Multivan.

The starter of the VW T3 Multivan twitches briefly, shaking the 2.1-liter water boxer awake. It sounds a bit weathered after the long idle time for a few revs, but then lapses into a gentle idle. We hardly hear him. Because although the VW T3 Multivan is 4.60 meters shorter than an Audi 100 Type 43, there are three meters as the crow flies between the ears of the front crew and the engine. He lives in his metal cabin, only separated from the living room by a cover plate. While the squeaky diesels use the entire interior of the VW T3 Multivan as a sound body for their roaring attacks, the gasoline engine hardly changes the volume when accelerating, but the key: into Porsche.

The great loss the end of the boxer era at VW really means becomes apparent only when you are on the road with one again. The late WBX is for sure the best VW boxer of all time. Because in the version with the largest displacement it finally has enough power for the extensive VW T3 Multivan. The machine pushes it forward vehemently and remains even at the recommended speed - the touring knife has left the 4,000 mark behind it - highly cultivated and its sound volume far behind the roar that the wind creates when it hits the body of the VW T3 Multivan surges.

There are numerous sought-after special models of the T3

Blow it off the side, but the sovereign traveling in the VW T3 Multivan is over. Then the Multivan dangles, twists and stumbles in its lane, constantly needing course corrections. This is easy to do with the power steering, but it lacks self-aligning torque. So the VW T3 Multivan always rolls a little angularly over drafty motorways. In calm conditions, it is pleasantly heavy, like a large limousine. The suspension easily takes a tough hit even on the lowered VW T3 Multivan LLE. The VW T3 Multivan also distances itself very much from other commercial vehicles in terms of equipment.

VW does not only screw the all-round planking to the VW T3 Multivan special models Magnum (1988 to 1989), Bluestar and Whitestar (1989 to 1990) and, above all, the Last Limited Edition, but almost everything it attaches to Special equipment there. Our VW T3 Multivan LLE carries the thick housings of the electric exterior mirrors, steers, as already mentioned, with ease of servo, locks centrally, sits on comfortable pilot seats with armrests at the front, carries colored glass and 14-inch aluminum wheels in a five-star design.

The gazebo can bedrive ambitiously

The motorway ends behind Heide, we drive the last 40 kilometers to St. Peter-Ording overland in Multivan. For an empty weight of 1.4 tons and the size of a gazebo, the VW T3 Multivan is pleasantly agile through the flat Eiderstedt province. Remains neutral for a long time in bends, then wags the rear end, then typically turns into the bend when the accelerator is released. That has little to do with sportiness, of course, but it feels like ambitious driving. It is also very entertaining, even if the nod of the VW T3 Multivan body when braking and accelerating requires a certain seaworthiness of the crew. But it is much easier to get used to that little bump than to the gearshift. Rumor has it that the left aisle level houses the first step below and the return step above.

After vigorous re-drilling, one of the two can usually be persuaded to gear. But rarely does it go straight away in the desired direction. Because the engine of the VW T3 Multivan has enough oomph even on low tours, it is therefore advisable to ignore first gear and drive off in second. Furthermore, you should generally avoid situations in which the VW T3 Multivan has to move backwards. Saturday afternoon we reach the beach of St. Peter-Ording. Here the image of the VW T3 Multivan changed from an extended family carrier to a surfer mobile. The ARD pre-evening surfing series “Gegen den Wind” played a not insignificant role in this. When Ralf Bauer jumped out of the bus in 1995 into his very neon-colored wetsuit and then hopped onto his surfboard, the VW T3 Multivan was suddenly very popular. From then on, young women liked to sit in the front passenger seat, as every Bully owner was now considered a potential young Robby-Naish.

The VW T3 Bulli: spacious like a truck, handy like a compact car

In the meantime, the VW T4 - whether as a transporter, Caravelle or Multivan - has taken over the dominance on Ordinger Strand. But when the VW T3 Multivan crawls over the dike - the undisputed king returns home. Thanks to the traction-enhancing rear engine and the large ground clearance, we roll confidently over the beach in the VW T3 Multivan, while sedans paw in panic in the first sand hole. We stay at the sea for the day, drink coffee in the VW T3 Multivan Surfer Lounge during the low tide.

The tide comes in the afternoon. True surfers would go out now and only get off the board when the waves recede again. Then spend the night in the Multivan and be the first to hit the water in the morning. Of course, that would also work with another car. But no other combines as many talents as the VW T3 Multivan, without requiring compromises: spacious like a truck, comfortable like a limousine, handy like a compact car. And even as a pure rear-wheel drive car, it is more suitable for easy terrain than most SUVs.

The last or the very last?

On Sundays we bring the VW T3 Multivan carefully cleaned of sand and salt back to Wolfsburg. His speedometer now shows 1,623 kilometers, the engine runs even more smoothly, the suspension is even more sensitive. The last little VW T3 Multivan liked it by the sea. Although the last VW T3 is such a thing. After the LLE series, around 840 Multivan Red Star are said to have been made from leftover parts - officially never offered, if only because VW had certified the LLE buyers that they had bought a VW T3 Multivan from the last series. But that only applies to Europe anyway. In South Africa the VW T3 will be built until June 2002, with a 136 hp 2.6 liter five-cylinder engine. But who can blame VW for having built a few tens of thousands of the very last copies of the VW T3, the best car in the world?


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