It is ironic that when production of the T25 was continued in South Africa during the 1990’s they equipped it with the Audi 5 cylinder engine which gave the vehicle all the power it needed to really make it succeed. If this vehicle had then been made available in the UK/worldwide at the right price then VW would almost certainly been have been the leader in the 4WD MPV market today.
One of the arguments for stopping production of the T25 in Germany was that the expensive boxer engines could not be used in their other (car) models it was been producing (as had been the case earlier with Beetles & Split Screens & Bay window Transporters).
It was quite acceptable however for the drive train from the Syncro to be incorporated into the VW car range. It was used in Golfs & Jetta’s but the only real attempt at making a true off road vehicle was when in 1989 the “Golf country” was produced. This vehicle has additional ground clearance & protection.
Image of a cobra courtesy of VW Motoring Chris Burlace
The Syncro Ambulance conversion that is still on of the most utilised syncros still being used today. Rowan Medical Services has four Syncro ambulances & these can be seen at events all over the country (in particular Vanfest & BVF).
Of course the Syncro drive train was also used in the next generation of Transporters but the T4 Synco’s were never given the off road credentials of the T3.
In the UK the Syncro vehicles, particually the Pickups & Crew Cabs were and still are firm favorites within the building trade. As far as utility firms are concerned it was the water companies that proved to be a good customer.
Syncro Transporter Production Details
SYNCRO Total Production – 43468 (of these 2108 were right hand drive models)
Single Cab Pickups (M245) 1787 produced.
These vehicles were only available in the UK with 1.9 litre petrol or 1.6 litre turbo diesels.
Double Cab Pickups (M247) 6849 produced.
These vehicles proved to be very popular & were generally available with the same engines as the pickup. However a special “Tristar” model was produced fitted with a 2.1 litre petrol engine.
Panel Vans (M251) 5848 produced
These vehicles were available with all 3 engine formats.
Minibuses (M253) 14650 produced
Many different types of minibus versions were available, ranging from 8 to 12 seats. They were however only supplied with the 1.9 petrol or 1.6 diesel & turbo diesel engines & were not available as Syncro’s in the UK.
|ENGINES – Fitted to SYNCROS
2.1 (95 BHP Catalyser) no. produced 14,233
2.1 (112 BHP) no. produced 6259
1.9 (78BHP) no. produced 6641
1.6 Turbo Diesel (70BHP) no. produced 16335
Caravelles (M255) 14334 Produced
UK Supplied Caravelles were all fitted with 2.1 litre engines.
Syncro 16” (Option M855) 2138 Produced
Of the above vehicles, some were heavy duty special’s fitted with 16” Wheels. These were not generally available as export models but used by the service section within Germany. No 16” Wheeled vehicles were exported to the UK or US. Many different options were available on these vehicles. Most had different gear ratio’s, even heavier duty suspension & uprated brakes.
Tristar (M314) Unknown Number produced
This was a special package based on the crewcab launched in October 1988. It came with alloy wheels, black wheel arch spats linked by graphite coloured lower body paint, an integrated spoiler plus twin rectangular headlights with washers plus most of the other equipment offered on the GL carravelle. Rear seat passengers also had their own heater.
A similar spec vehicle called the “Magma” was produced for the German market.
Only a handful (if that!) of Tristars were sold in the UK. Where are they all now?
Sand, sea and snow, nearly everywhere a syncro can go!
In the end VW were very keen to focus all their attention on the new T4 model & effectively killed off the T3 (and with it one of the best and versatile four wheel drive vehicles ever produced).