VW Crafter celebrates 45th birthday
In April 1975, the original VW Crafter (known as the LT until 2006) was launched as a big brother to the iconic VW Transporter. Designed in the medium van segment, to sit between the T2 and the heavy trucks, LT stood for Lasten Transporter (load transporter).
It was mainly available in two wheelbases and two roof variants (panel van, station wagon and bus) with platform and double cab also being options. Between the LT and the subsequent Crafter over 1.5 million models have been made and sold across the world.
Some of these early LT models became campervans, notably from the likes of Westfalia and Karmann, with coachbuilts and custom conversions also appearing on the scene. It was no looker, though, and didn't achieve the same status in the campervan world as it's older (and smaller) brother.
There were 470,000 of the first generation LT (1975 to 1996), which maximised load space with that boxy design. Despite being just 33cm long and 20cm wider than the T2, there was 50% more load space. The cab was designed to be more ergonomic with a better view through a bigger windscreen. Other key features were independent front suspension and a choice of a 2-litre (75PS) four-cylinder petrol engine from the Audi 100 or a 2.7-litre four-cylinder diesel offering 65PS. The 2.4-litre six cylinder came along in 1979, adding a whole 8PS to the power.
In 1988, VW started to market the LT-based Florida, a four-berth campervan with a washroom.
1996 saw the second generation LT launch, developed in partnership with Mercedes. Turbo diesels were integrated into the line-up too, with three wheelbases offering weights of 2.6 to 4.6 tonnes.
The Crafter name replaced the LT in 2006, but continued its association with Mercedes and the Sprinter models. The company's 4MOTION all-wheel drive system was an option. 480,000 Crafters were sold over a 10-year period.
Step forward the latest Crafter, wholly unique to VW and designed from the ground up (with an all-electric option that followed two years later). The company even launched its own factory-built campervan, the Grand California to sit alongside the rising roof California models, based on the VW Transporter.