1 Aug 1982
By CHRIS HARRIS
FOR most of the 1980s the Caravelle – as well as its T3 Transporter commercial vehicle siblings – were the only new Volkswagens Australians could buy.
It came from a long line of Transporter models first introduced as the air-cooled rear-engine rear-wheel drive Beetle-based T1 of 1950.
The famous Kombi versions arrived in Australia in 1965, followed by the larger T2 series of 1968.
In 1979 the boxy T3 represented a complete stylistic departure for the series, but it wasn’t until the water-cooled Series II of 1984 that saw the Transporter’s first real definitive steps towards modernity occurred.
So the first Caravelle was actually an air-cooled rear-drive Kombi descendent.
Seating eight within a 2460mm wheelbase, it was powered by an air-cooled 51kW/140Nm 1973cc 2.0-litre OHV four-cylinder engine – sited out back of course.
The move to water-cooling in 1984 resulted in the facelifted Series II, powered by a 63kW/143Nm 1913cc 2.0-litre OHV four-cylinder engine, in five-speed manual or three-speed automatic modes.
A larger 2109cc 2.1-litre unit brought 70kW and 160Nm from late 1986 to 1992. This engine also powered 1989’s 4WD Synchro version, as well as the luxury Carat edition.