Any car maker setting out to design a £40,000 luxury seven-seater in today’s SUV-obsessed market would be very bold indeed to use a ‘light commercial vehicle’ – a van, to you and me – as a starting point.
Before the introduction of the Caravelle’s earliest predecessor, there was no such thing as an MPV, or really even what we’d recognise as a modern van.
The original 1950 Volkswagen Type 2 was, along with the 1947 Citroën H Van, one of the pioneers, making the sixth-generation Transporter that VW has just launched about as aristocratic as these workhorses get.
The Caravelle derivative was officially introduced with the third-generation Transporter, although more comfortable passenger-carrying versions were offered with the original Type 2. Its mission was always to combine the material refinements of a passenger car with many of the dynamic ones – hence the availability of more powerful engines, four-wheel drive systems and automatic transmissions, most of which the Transporter didn’t have.