July 2022. The following for posterity, saved from loss due to recently defunct old KombiClub website. No doubt of interest to syncro owners.
VW Australia Sales History – 1981 to 1992
Here is a brief article on Australian Kombi history by Phil Matthews, the author of “Knowing Australian Volkswagens”.
1981 - LNC Industries executives travel to Germany to meet with Volkswagen about the future of the brand in Australia. No petrol or diesel VW car models are deemed suitable or economic, but it is agreed to import the T3 Transporter. A batch of 2,000 Australian-homologated Transporters is ordered, enough to last two years. LNC brings the new T3 Transporter to the Sydney Motor Show in October, but it is parked in the carpark, not on the small VW stand.442 Volkswagens are sold – 96 Golfs, 287 Passats and 59 Transporters.
1982 - The T3 Transporter is released for sale, in Kombi and Microbus versions, with hydraulic fuel-injected 2.0-litre air-cooled engines, and manual or auto trans. Prices range from $10,995 to $14,995, 50% more than the Japanese competition.518 Volkswagens are sold – 3 Golfs, 80 Passats and 435 Transporters.
1983 - 179 Volkswagens are sold – 179 Transporters.
1984 - Later in the year the Transporter is updated to the new 1915cc ‘wasserboxer’ water-cooled flat four engine, replacing the old Type 4-based air-cooled engine. A 5-speed manual gearbox is available for the first time. The nose gets a second, lower grille for the radiator. The new Caravelle is priced at $17,995, some $1545 more than its predecessor.262 Volkswagens are sold – 262 Transporters.
1985 - 393 Volkswagens are sold – 393 Transporters.
1986 - LNC Industries announces that no more shipments of new Volkswagens will be received.For the first time since 1953, there is no Volkswagen stand at the Sydney Motor Show.123 Volkswagens are sold – 123 Transporters.
1987 - No VWs are imported; the only sales are clearing of old stock.48 Volkswagens are sold – 48 Transporters.
1988 - Ateco laid the foundations for VW’s relaunch by reorganising the remaining VW dealer network, casting off many former VW agents who were now Subaru, Honda, Nissan or Mitsubishi dealers. Most country dealers were closed down. New VW agencies were established in the capital cities.A batch of current Transporters are brought in to keep the product available and to prepare for a major relaunch, which include for the first time the 2.1-litre engine and Syncro 4WD system. TRAKKA are announced as the ‘official’ camper converter, having purchased Sopru Pty Ltd (the former LNC-owned Motor Caravan Holdings Ltd).The first modern Australian colour Volkswagen magazine, the bi-monthly ‘Australian VW Power’, goes on sale at newsagents.82 Volkswagens are sold – 82 Transporters
1989 - Ateco launches the ‘Volkswagen Is Back!’ campaign, with the relaunch of the updated, modern T3 Transporter range. The T3 comes with the 70 kW 2109cc wasserboxer engine and new front grille and rectangular headlights. Prices range from $19,995 up to $46,990. VW ads appear in newspapers, magazines and on TV again for the first time in many years.The T3 Pickup and Double Cab Pickup are displayed at the Sydney Motor Show. Ateco also announces that the Carat executive will be introduced, but this doesn’t eventuate.1,097 Volkswagens are sold – 1,097 Transporters.
1990 - Ateco Industries sells the Australian VW franchise to the large British-based auto distribution group Tozer Kemsley & Millbourn plc (TKM). The T3 Transporter Pickup and Double Cab Pickups are released, with the 2.1-litre engine, with manual or auto trans. A syncro version of the Caravelle is available, at $39,000. A luxury syncro 4WD version of the Double Cab is also announced – the Tristar – but only one of these arrive. The T3 Syncro is named Overlander Magazine’s 4WD of the Year.1,182 Volkswagens are sold – 107 Golfs and 1,075 Transporters.
1991 - Australia’s biggest VW show, the VW Nationals, is moved to the Valentine Sports Park at Parklea, home of the NSW Soccer Federation. Two Caravelle Syncros, driven by VW-enthusiast police officers Dallas Tidyman and John O’Donnell, are used to take passengers around a special off-road bush track beside the show area. This dazzling and impressive display of the Syncro’s abilities results in a number of Syncro sales the following week.Graham and John Lees again compete in the Australian Safari in a Syncro Double Cab Transporter, again winning their class and finishing 13th outright.The last T3 syncro Transporters are sold and the model is discontinued.954 Volkswagens are sold – 289 Golfs and 665 Transporters.
1992 - The last rear-engined T3 Transporter is sold, and the model is discontinued.
KC forum posts 27/11/2008 :
Kombi Rescue (Steve Muller): Just a few extra details …
The last T3 ordered was a single cab ute … it arrived in Australia late 92, was rego’d in 93 and used by VW at the time.
All T3’s after 1990 were built in Austria … Australia was the last customer for the T3 … as the South African models were local assembly.
I sold the last T3 new in Oct 93 which was a Caravelle CL … One of the last syncros sold was June 93 … It was a dlx window van.
Telstra had bought close to 400 syncros.
Six single cab syncros (PL quote: “every SC that I have seen was white.”) were only ever sold in Australia and roughly 80 d/cabs 4x4 sold.
As Phil stated I lived for these in the late 80’s-90’s … I remember Phil and I picking up his syncro from the importer direct … Phil drove it home on a trade plate and not too many people after that can say they did this. Bit of history for you Phil as you still own this bus. More to come.
A total of 288 double cab T3s sold, less than 80 were syncros.
There were three 3 door d/cabs, 1 was a white syncro with front & rear difflocks lives on the Central Coast, also Met blue [pidgeon grey metallic] auto deluxe now in Newcastle, and the other is tistian red 5sp lives in Sydney.
I know of 4 d/c destroyed over the years and about 6 s/cabs also gone to the scrappers.
There are two Australian 16” buses … a d/cab and a sunroof (TRAKKA) van both used in the Australian Safari.
There are also a few private imports … d/door diesel 1.6 Caravelle, another diesel Caravelle, 3 x utes, 2 x diesel syncro campers, a few factory highroof T3s, a 6cyl Oettinger d/cab auto, just a few … will remember more and post up.
Lindsey Fox ordered a top line syncro Caravelle with every accessory available ex factory, was grey in colour.