Reading Matters: The Essential Buyers’ Guide – Volkswagen T4: 1990-2003


– ISBN 978-1-787114-38-8 – £13.99 (P&P) – Published by    

When two experts of Volkswagen come together to produce a manual on the fourth generation Transporter (T4) range, you can be certain that it will include everything you could possibly want to know about this best-selling light commercial that had a 14 year production life from 1990 to 2003.

As another addition to the Veloce ‘Essential Buyers’ Guide’ publications, this 96 page booklet, co-written by Ken Cservenka and Richard Copping, not only advises on how to buy a T4 but also provides invaluable information for current owners.

There are many proud T4 owners out there and with some TLC, these vehicles are quite capable of continuing on for many few years, even as we await the arrival of the new T7 series.

The T4 was sold all over the world in various guises including panel vans, people carriers, pick-ups, crew-cabs and of course, campervans. As well as the familiar Transporter nomenclature, its badging also bore names like EuroVan (USA) and Vanagon (Japan).

What made the T4 stand out from its predecessors was that it was the first VW van with a front mounted water-cooled engine (the rear engined T3 was originally fitted with air-cooled engines though later models came with water cooled units). It also marked the reshaping of the model line as the new design featured a bonnet for the first time, unlike previous generations.

Regarding the campervan versions, of which there are many, it wasn’t until the T5 was officially launched in October 2002 that Volkswagen brought the total conversion in-house at its main factory in Hannover, Germany. Heretofore, the fitting and kitting out was undertaken by third party approved converters. This led to the T4 chassis and body shell being adapted to various campervan shapes and sizes. However, specialist company Westfalia proved to be the most popular choice.

If you’re looking to purchase a T4, the writers recommend the best engine type to opt for is the 102PS/250Nm 205 litre TDI diesel, which although a little more expensive, is worth it in the long term. Many other key points are highlighted and illustrated in this paperback (supported by 119 photographs), with a dedicated chapter on rust issues. Much information is provided on the mechanicals and issues to look out for, plus lots of useful advice on restoring one, if laid dormant for a while.

The book also includes comprehensive details of clubs and support organisations for the wider Volkswagen vehicle family, which both first time and existing owners may find very beneficial. It’s a very timely publication too, as the T4 celebrates its 30th Anniversary this year. Jarlath Sweeney