Volkswagen T25/T3

In August 1979, Volkswagen introduced the T25, known as a Vanagon in the USA and as a T3 in Germany and most of Europe. It marked a significant leap forward from its predecessors, the Splitscreen and Bay Window Campers and Transporters. Over time, the T25 evolved, replacing the 1979 1600cc CT model with a fuel-injected 2100cc DJ unit. Additionally, the subpar two-wheel drive configuration was transformed into a four-wheel-drive model known as the Syncro, featuring impressive gearboxes and running gear produced in Austria by Puch. The Syncro came in 14-inch and 16-inch wheel sizes and was available in various configurations, including van, window van, microbus, Caravelle, Carat deluxe microbus, single cab pickup, double cab pickup, mid-top, and high-top versions. The VW-approved camping version was crafted by Westfalia in Germany.

The T25 boasted several main variants, including the panel van with one or two sliding doors, single cab pickup; double cab pickup (DoKa); microbus with 3 rows of seats and a low-spec interior; and Caravelle with 3 rows of seats and a high-spec interior. The Syncro models, on the other hand, offered a 4×4 transmission, with the 16-inch variant being the tougher model.  Manufactured by various companies, the T25 Campers were converted using different base vehicles, with some opting for the Microbus while others used the more affordable panel van.

The production history and model development of the T25 (T3) spanned several significant milestones:

May 1979: Introduction of the ‘third’ generation Volkswagen Transporter, a complete redesign from the old Bay Window, featuring wider dimensions, larger windows, tailgate, and a new style front. It came with either a 1600cc 50bhp (37kw) or 2000cc 70bhp (51kw) air-cooled engine.

February 1981: Introduction of a water-cooled 1600cc diesel engine from the Golf.

September 1981: Introduction of the Caravelle, offering a more luxurious interior.

October 1981: Introduction of water-cooled flat-four petrol engines in two versions: DF 1900cc 60bhp (44kw) and DG 1900cc 78bhp (57kw).

1982: End of production of air-cooled engined models in Germany.

August 1983: Introduction of a higher-spec Caravelle with the option of a 4-lamp square grille.

1985: A full ‘revamp’ with numerous changes, including new exhaust systems, suspension, sliding door locks, and fuel injection systems. The year also saw the introduction of the Syncro, a 4-wheel-drive vehicle built with Steyr/Daimler/Puch in Austria.

1986 onwards: Improved rust treatment in the production process reduced rust issues.

September 1990: The last T25 left the Hanover factory, with production continuing in South Africa until the end of 2002. The last Syncro was built in 1992.

Important tips and facts about your VW T25 (T3) Transporter

1. To top up brake and clutch fluid in post-1981 versions, remove the black cover to the instrument panels, being cautious not to break the plastic tags.

2. For checking and filling up oil, locate the flap behind the rear number plate and pull the tag.

3. Regularly inspect the fuel tank in 2-wheel drive models (both petrol and diesel versions) located at the front to check for rust.

4. German-produced T25s after August 1985 received dip treatment in the factory to prevent rust.

5. Air in the water-cooled petrol or diesel models’ cooling system can lead to overheating, which can be resolved by bleeding the system with the front of the vehicle elevated.

6. Westfalia models with an elevating roof use the original hole designed for the metal sunroof, making them the strongest campers with an elevating roof.

7. Refill the washer bottle by lifting the cab mat, revealing the washer bottle cap.

8. South African-produced transporters came with a 5-cylinder petrol engine, also used in the Passat and Audi 80 in Europe.

9. Use specific antifreeze like J10916 for the 1900cc and 2100cc water-cooled petrol engines, as regular antifreeze can cause corrosion and issues.

10. Porsche created a limited edition version of the VW Transporter called B32, equipped with a 3.2-liter Carrera engine, originally developed as a support vehicle for the Porsche 959 in the Paris-Dakar race.

11. A popular service is to convert the standard, naturally aspirated 1.6 diesel to an AAZ engine code 1.9 turbo diesel from other VW/Audi Group cars.

Type 25 Chassis Numbers:

The vehicle’s chassis number, also referred to as the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), is stamped inside the offside door pillar. To determine the model year, locate the 10th digit of the VIN and consult the table provided below. It’s important to be aware that the build dates follow the pattern of August to July, as opposed to January to December. For instance, a vehicle labelled as a 1981 model might have been constructed in late 1980.

The final six digits represent the serial numbers of the vehicle. 10th digit Model year Build date.

A 1980 1st Aug 79 > 31st Jul 80
B 1981 1st Aug 80 > 31st Jul 81
C 1982 1st Aug 81 > 31st Jul 82
D 1983 1st Aug 82 > 31st Jul 83
E 1984 1st Aug 83 > 31st Jul 84
F 1985 1st Aug 84 > 31st Jul 85
G 1986 1st Aug 85 > 31st Jul 86
H 1987 1st Aug 86 > 31st Jul 87
J 1988 1st Aug 87 > 31st Jul 88
K 1989 1st Aug 88 > 31st Jul 89
L 1990 1st Aug 89 > 31st Jul 90
M 1991 1st Aug 90 > 31st Jul 91
N 1992 1st Aug 91 > 31st Jul 92

Type 25 engine specifications:

1600cc air-cooled
2000cc air-cooled
1900 > 2100cc water-cooled
1600 > 1700cc diesel and turbo diesel

Engine numbers

Can be found stamped on the top of the crank-case, centrally above the crankshaft pulley/fan on all petrol engines, and also stamped on the engine block between the injection pump and vacuum pump on all diesels.

1600cc Air-Cooled
CT 1600cc 50 bhp Flat 4

2000cc Air-Cooled
CU 2000cc 70 bhp Flat 4
CV 2000cc 70 bhp Flat 4

1900>2100cc Water-Cooled
EY 1900cc 55 bhp Flat 4
DF 1900cc 60 bhp Flat 4
SP 1900cc 73 bhp Flat 4
DG 1900cc 78 bhp Flat 4
DH 1900cc 83 bhp Flat 4
GW 1900cc 90 bhp Flat 4
SR 2100cc 87 bhp Flat 4
SS 2100cc 92 bhp Flat 4
MV 2100cc 95 bhp Flat 4
DJ 2100cc 112 bhp Flat 4

1600>1700cc Diesel and Turbo Diesel
CS 1600cc 50 bhp Inline 4
KY 1700cc 57 bhp Inline 4
JX 1600cc 70 bhp Inline 4

At Das Van Haus, we celebrate the rich history of the VW Transporter and its legacy as the beloved Volkswagen Campervan. Our specialised services cater to T25, T4, T5, and T6 models, ensuring your VW van stays in top-notch condition for years to come.