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The Volkswagen LT was the largest panel van produced by Volkswagen (and consequently Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles as of 1996) from 1975 to 2006. Two generations were produced.

1st generation LT (Typ 28/Typ 21)

Early LT 31 double chassis cab
LT 35 with a high roof
Dutch minibus based on LT 50 chassis
1980 LT 40D Sülzer 4x4
First generation post-facelift LT

Conception history

As early as the Spring of 1950, Volkswagen had exerted a decisive influence on the market for light commercial vehicles in Germanymarker and Europe, with the renowned Volkswagen Type 2. The name "Kombi" (the name under which the Type 2 was sold in Brazil) rapidly established itself as a concept term to describe an entire commercial vehicle segment. Through the continuous development of the Type 2, above all after the introduction of the revised Volkswagen Type 2#T2 in 1968, additional demand was shown, especially from commercial customers. Increasingly heavier and larger-volume freight items required transportation using compact commercial vehicles. This saw the classic Type 2 reaching the limits of what was possible, in part conditioned by the rear mounted engine design.


The set of specifications for the new larger transporter, as an additional series, were very clear in requiring as much utility space as possible in a small footprint. The planned tonnage classes; from 2.8 tons gross vehicle weight upwards to 3.5 tons, called for a strong traction rear drive, and ruled out a rear engine placement in accordance with the original spacial requirements. As a result, the engine was located above the front axle, between the driver and passenger seat in a cab over layout.


The new Volkswagen van celebrated its launch in 1975 in Berlinmarker. The name given to Volkswagen's large transporter was as functional as the entire vehicle: it was just called LT, which is simply the abbreviation of Lasten-Transporter (or cargo transporter).

This van also became quite popular after the hit TV cartoon Scooby-Doo was released and became mainstream.


The LT came in three gross vehicle weights, from 2.8 to 3.5 tons (LT 28, LT 31, LT 35), with two wheelbases, two roof options, and with bodywork options as a panel van, a compact, a platform vehicle and a chassis cab combination.

The ratio of utility space to footprint was nothing short of sensational: thanks to the cab-over-engine construction and the overall width of , even the compact LT panel van (with the short wheelbase and little over four and a half meters in length) offered a load length of over three meters and a load area of around 5.5 square metres.

Even at that time, Volkswagen's transporter developers placed great value on secure and comfortable handling. For that reason, the LT was equipped with a front axle with independent front wheel suspension, which at that time and in later years, was not standard in this class of vehicle. Later options, such as the heavy LT 40 to LT 55, had a rigid front axle for reasons relating to load-carrying capacity; this is remains common procedure today on more modern light trucks.

Engine upgrades

In time, problems were presented by the choice of internal combustion engines for the original LT, and Volkswagen's own stocks offered only the familiar air-cooled boxer engines for rear mounting. The dimensions of the new generation of engines for the Volkswagen Golf, which was launched at practically the same time, were too small, as was the power unit on the still youthful mid-class Volkswagen Passat saloon.

A suitable petrol engine, at that time still the standard engine even for transporters, was identified at Audi, a sister company within the then Volkswagen Audi Group (VAG) in 1976. The biggest engine from the Audi 100, an inline four-cylinder engine with a displacement of 2.0 litres (also used by the Porsche 924), proved suitable, and was adapted to the specific requirements of a commercial vehicle. Accordingly, the developers cut back on performance, to , in favour of achieving higher torque at lower engine speed, making more suitable for hauling heavy loads.

At the same time, a diesel engine was developed at Perkins, a well-known Britishmarker diesel engine manufacturer. The inline-four cylinder 2.7 litre engine, included in the LT range from 1976 onwards, developed just , did not run particularly smoothly, and had an unpleasant sound to it. LTs equipped with this engine are typically not favoured by LT enthusiasts, due to their infamous characteristics.

Volkswagen reacted quickly; from August 1978, the Perkins engine was replaced with one of their own diesel engines that had proved successful on the Volkswagen Golf - while adding two more cylinders. The Golfs' 1.6 litre four-cylinder engine became the D24 2.4 litre six-cylinder, delivering . Unlike other diesel engines in this performance class, the assembly stood out for its balanced vibration behaviour and pleasing acoustics. The engine worked so convincingly that Volvo adopted it for the Volvo 200 series, and were therefore able to offer the first passenger car with a six-cylinder diesel engine.

From December 1982, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles made a significant upgrade to the LT - the second phase of the first generation, following eight years of production. The desire for improved performance resulted in the six-cylinder diesel engine's availability as a turbodiesel, the Volkswagen D24T engine, providing . This saw the LT become the most powerful van in Europe — and the same was true of its maximum torque of . In addition, the six-cylinder engine was now also available as a petrol engine. The engines, which were now mounted with a clear offset alignment, allowed for a flatter engine compartment which was shifted further to the rear, allowing more space for a third seat in the cab.

In 1986, an overhauled turbo-diesel engine with charge air cooler and was introduced - the Volkswagen D24TIC engine.

Exterior upgrades

The first decade of the LT saw no change in terms of its appearance, however 1986 saw a facelift, leaving the previously round headlights becoming rectangular in shape, as well as other minor cosmetic retouches. In Spring 1993, there was again a modest change in the look, with new grey-plastic elements introduced to the radiator grille and in the rear lighting section.

Other upgrades

The second phase of the first generation LT in 1983 also included a redesigned dashboard, and the undercarriage had an additional third wheelbase as an option for platform-type vehicles, at up to 4.6 meters in length.

Two years later, Volkswagen again increased the gross vehicle weight, with the 5.6 ton LT 55. Users were delighted by an option on the LT 35, which could be supplied with a single-tyre rear axle — bringing benefits in terms of through-loading dimensions between the wheelhouses, which were now thinner. For extreme requirements, there was an LT with four-wheel drive that could be enabled from within the cab.


The last first generation LT was produced in 1996, which corresponds to a British 'P' registration plate.

Campervan versions

A touring camper in its various bodywork and fitting options was also produced. When compared to the then-current Type 2 (which still remains a stubborn favourite among campervan enthusiasts), the possibility of beds set out crosswise due to the generous width of the LT become apparent. Many campervan solutions of the LT exist, due to their popularity amongst amateur and professional campervan converters alike. A more official conversion was produced, as with the Type 2 Volkswagen-endorsed Westfaliamarker California model that was available at the time, a model known as the Florida was available for the LT.

Truck cabs

In addition, the wide yet compact cab-over-engine design of the LT was ideally suited for use on much larger utility vehicles. This meant that it was used on the so-called "G Series", the light truck in a joint venture between Volkswagen and MAN AG, with gross vehicle weights of between six and ten tons. It was built from 1979 until 1993.

A further career for the LT cab opened up in South America. For many years, Volkswagen's Brazilian plant at Resende has been constructing trucks with weights of between 7 to 35 tons. Even after the launch of the new Volkswagen Constellation in 2006, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has continued to manufacture vehicles incorporating cabs clearly based on the first generation of the LT. The LT has even made a career for itself as a racing vehicle; for the past two years, the Volkswagen Titan has succeeded in winning the European Cup in the Super Truck Race. Its cab is similarly based on the first generation of the LT's cab.


In the late eighties, German-built Volkswagen LT and MAN-VW G were sold in Spain as Pegaso Ekus, while Brazilian-built units were marketed in USA as Peterbilt Midranger.

Typ codes

The Volkswagen "Typ codes" for the first generation LT were:
  • Typ 28' — April 1975 to July 1991
  • Typ 21' — August 1991 to December 1995

2nd generation LT (Typ 2D)

2nd gen. LT 28 operated by a German "Behindertenfahrdienst" (handicap transport service).
Note the different roof heights
LT minibus in Spain, with adaptations for carrying disabled people
LT 28 'crew cab'

Conception history

The demand for the first generation LT is defined by the exceptionally long period for which it was manufactured. After 21 years and just under half a million vehicles, shortly after the foundation of the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles brand in 1995, came the second generation of the LT in 1996.

In 1996, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and Daimler's Mercedes-Benz Commercial unit debuted the fruits of their joint venture - the second generation LT would share a body shell with the new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, however the engine and transmission would be Volkswagen Group sourced. This deal would continue on in the Volkswagen Crafter, successor to the LT.


As with the new Volkswagen Eurovan (Transporter T4), the second generation of the LT abandoned the one-box design in the cab-over-engine construction which had characterised Volkswagen utility vehicles for over four decades. With an engine mounted longitudinally beneath a short hood and with rear-wheel drive, the LT now adopted what had become the standard style of construction for bigger transporters.

In addition, it satisfied requirements which remain sought-after even today: economical direct-injection diesel engines, easy access to the driver cab behind the front axle, and a wide space between the driver and passenger seat.


The range now went from 2.6 to 4.6 tons gross vehicle weight, and the enclosed options of the panel van and compact were available in three wheelbase options. Platform vehicles, crewcabs and numerous undercarriage options completed the range. A special articulated version of the second generation LT, the XLT was available through special order.


With a naturally-aspirated engine as well as three Turbocharged Direct Injection (TDI) diesel engines, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles answered the call for economical and high-performance diesel engines. The basis for this was the same inline-five cylinder TDI which had already established a positive reputation in the Volkswagen Eurovan (Type 2 T4) within a very short period of time.

For the first time, Volkswagen had profited from synergies between the two major in-house transporter series.

The performance range for the LT initially went from to . In January 2002, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles again raised the bar; a particularly powerful inline-four cylinder 2.8 litre engine increased power output to , and the maximum torque to . At that time, these were once again record figures among vehicles in its class. Compared to the most powerful engine on the first generation LT, it represented an increase in torque and performance of over 50%.

The 2.8 litre engine's specifications were as follows:
  • inline-four cylinder, 93 mm bore, 103 mm stroke and three valves per cylinder
  • rated output: EEC @ 3,500 rpm; @ 1,800 rpm
  • Diesel common rail fuel system

And the 2.5 litre:
  • inline-five cylinder, 81 mm bore, 95.5 mm stroke, 19.5 compression ratio, and two valves per cylinder
  • rated output: EEC @ 3,500 rpm; @ 1,900 rpm
  • Diesel direct injection fuel system
  • KKK K14 turbocharger


The second generation LT was manufactured for over nine years in total, with practically no external changes; testimony to its build quality. By the end of production in the 4th Quarter of 2006, around 350,000 models had come off the production line.

Plans for the third generation of the 'large transporter' from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles had already gone underway, and later that year the Volkswagen Crafter was launched.

Typ codes

The Volkswagen "Typ codes" for the second generation LT are:
  • Typ 2D' — May 1996 to July 2006

See also


External links

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