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The first generation of Transporters.

1956

The first Transporters leave the production line at the newly built Volkswagen Transporter factory in Hannover on 8th March. Series production begins on 20th April.

Volkswagen goes to South Africa. The factory acquires the shares of the South African Importer and founds a subsidiary as an assembly plant: Volkswagen of South Africa (Pty) Ltd. in Uitenhage, C.P. South Africa.

The very first Transporter was a light-weight vehicle: it weighed 890 kg with a full tank but without the driver or spare wheel. Even with these weights added, the Type 2 (Type 1 was the Beetle) remained under one tonne – it had an unladen weight of 990 kg. Its payload was 750 kg and therefore not so very much less. With room for 2 or 3 in the cab and a load compartment of 4.6 cubic metres the Volkswagen Transporter proved to be agile and, at least by standards at that time, quite lively. It had a continuous top speed of 75 kph. This was assured by its small (1131 ccm) and rather weak-chested rear engine which had an output of 18 kW at a moderate 3300 rpm. This unit was designed for reliability rather than top performance. Consumption on the road of 9 litres per 100 km and a high life expectancy were the reward for this modesty.

Over the years, the T1 grew so to say with its tasks. However, below the divided windscreen it retained its face, a “family face” that gave it close ties with the Beetle, until it was succeeded by the T2. Not until 1996, when the passenger car versions received the "happy face" of their smaller siblings, did this family resemblance return to the Transporter.

1957

Demand for Volkswagens seemingly knows no bounds. Production capacity at the Wolfsburg, Brunswick and Hannover factories is utilised to the full. Nevertheless, a backlog of orders builds up that can only be reduced by further expansion of production capacity. Volkswagen therefore buys another site in Kassel in October.

1958

25 employees begin work on reconditioning assemblies at the Kassel factory. The 250,000th Volkswagen exchange engine since 1948 is completed at Kassel. At this point in time, nearly every 10th Volkswagen runs on an exchange engine – a good opportunity for Volkswagen owners to save more than 50% in comparison with the new price. The completely new engine plus a corresponding warranty and the renewal of all minor assemblies is unique in the automotive field.

From 11th November onwards, the Hannover factory produces not only Volkswagen Transporters but Volkswagen engines too.

1959

Engine production starts at the Hannover factory. Since then, all Volkswagen air-cooled, and today water-cooled, boxer engines for the German domestic market are built there.

1960

As of the beginning of the new model year all Volkswagens receive a 25 kW engine and an all-synchromesh gearbox.

1962

The 1,000,000th Transporter is completed in Hannover.

1964

Continuous growth in overseas exports leads to the foundation of a factory in Emden which has excellent shipping facilities. In the course of the next few years, Volkswagenwerk has the largest private charter fleet in the world with more than 80 ships, and Emden becomes the largest motor vehicle port.

Foundation of Volkswagen de Mexico S.A. de C.V. in Puebla. Volkswagens are to be built here using as many parts as possible from local production while retaining German quality standards and favourable prices.

1966

The South African subsidiary is now owned 100% by Volkswagenwerk AG and is called Volkswagen of South Africa Ltd.