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All-wheel-drive bus at VW: The development of the all-wheel drive Bulli

30 years VW bus with all-wheel drive
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The VW bus is the oldest series still built in the Volkswagen Group - and the T1 series has already proven itself in the Hands of buyers who love to travel as real globetrotters. However, after the official presentation in 1950, it took 34 years for these customers to enjoy the superior drive concept: In 1984 the T3 Syncro appeared in the price lists, and in 1985 the first models were delivered to customers.

D och the T3 wasn't the first all-wheel drive bully. As early as 1975, Gustav Mayer, who was then head of development for transporters, set off for the Algerian Sahara with an all-wheel-drive T2 that was almost secretly assembled from VW components. Despite positive experiences, it took a full three years until the official go-ahead: It was not until 1978 that five test vehicles with switchable front-wheel drive were built. Series production was only started with the T3, which debuted a year later (as a rear-wheel drive car). A possible all-wheel drive was already considered during the development of the T3 and the corresponding space for the cardan shaft was provided on the underbody.

The first T3 series all-wheel drive was developed with Steyr

The Syncro all-wheel drive was developed and built by Steyr-Daimler-Puch, the final assembly with the parts supplied by VW also took place in Graz. The front axle was an in-house construction, attached to a subframe, the spring travel was extended. Two longitudinal members on the right and left of the shaft took over the protection of the cardan shaft, the front stabilizer gave way to a stronger version. Mudguards under the front end as well as under the engine and gearbox provided additional security. By raising the height by a total of 50 millimeters, the ground clearance increased to 210 millimeters at the front and 200 millimeters at the rear - a respectable figure to this day.

Mind you: The T3 Syncro already achieved this clearance with the standard 205 R 14 tires The so-called 16-inch Syncro was offered shortly afterwards really big challenges. It differed from its 14-inch brother in that it had more ground clearance thanks to larger wheels, stronger drive shafts and wishbones, reinforcements in the body and a standard rear axle lock. The price, which was already exorbitant at the time, prevented widespread distribution: 48,000 marks were due for the bare basic model. No wonder lesswhen 2,200 of the 45,478 T3 Syncro produced as a 16-inch version passed the Graz factory gates.

In 1993 the new T4 came as Syncro

The changing of the guard took place in 1990 with the T4, which was used as first VW bus had the engine and the main drive axle at the front. The Syncro all-wheel drive version is only available three years after the start of series production, but can no longer match the legendary off-road capabilities of the T3 due to the lower ground and belly clearance.

Thirteen years later, in March 2003, the new T5 goes into series production. The fifth generation of the VW bus retains the concept of its predecessor with a front engine and front-wheel drive. The previous all-wheel drive technology with viscous coupling has to give way to more modern technology in order to be able to integrate ESP and traction control. The solution is the Haldex coupling, as it is already used in the passenger car range. Due to the larger tires and the wider six-speed gearbox, the off-road capabilities are again improved compared to the T4 predecessor.

Extreme: Seikel is converting the VW T5

Conversion company Seikel worked with VW to develop individual components for raising the height and gear reduction. Equipped in this way, standard ground clearance of up to 223 millimeters is possible. By machining the wheel arches, larger tire combinations are also possible, with which the T5 has a ground clearance of up to 24 centimeters. An even more radical version is the portal axle conversion with additional axle drives. At the end of the construction period of the T5.1, the Panamericana will be a special model specially modified for off-road and travel use.

2010 will be the latest 4Motion series

2010 will see the extensive facelift At the same time, the T5 celebrated its 25th all-wheel drive anniversary. Also included: the conversion to more modern diesel engines, a new version of the Haldex coupling with faster response and, for the first time, a double clutch transmission. An innovation: the off-road components of the Panamericana special model (lift kit and rear axle lock) can also be combined with other T5 4Motion models.

2015: the VW T6 is just around the corner

With the premiere of the new VW T6 in April, the VW bus is entering the next round. Vigorously modernized, with more powerful and cleaner engines, but in the basic form unchanged in line with tradition. You don't have to be a clairvoyant for this, the T6 will seamlessly build on the success of its predecessors. The developers already showed how important VW the topic of all-wheel drive is for the T6 at the Commercial Vehicle IAA in September 2014. The Tristar study not only became the venerable name of a T3 Syncro -Special model revived. At the same time, the concept car also showed where the journey in terms of T64Motion will go there. In any case, the next anniversary in five years is set.


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