Bringing an Air-cooled T3 Back to Life

I am not ashamed to admit that 13 years ago when I first started getting in to old Kombis, the T3 I thought was really quite lame, boring and boxy. Back then they really were unloved and if you had have asked me if I would ever own one it would have been a flat out no. How times have changed.

In our workshop now we have just as many T3's as we do baywindows. This is definitely a sign of changing times and although I didn't think they were cool 13 years ago I did predict that they would be the next thing. I have found that trends in Australia are usually at least 5 years behind that of Europe. Over in the UK in 2010 the T3 was very much becoming the in thing.

VW T3 air-cooled bus in Primer

What really cemented my love of the T3 was when I got the opportunity to own one back in 2018 through a trade. It helped that my first one was an air-cooled model so the engine was very familiar to me. For those that don't know, the T3 model production ran from 1979 to 1991 with the air-cooled models being from 79 to 83. In Australia we saw the T3's only from 1982 so we only had two years of the air-cooled model which made them quite uncommon here with only a fraction over 600 units making it to our shores.

VW T3 Air-cooled single Grill in Primer

This particularly T3 we have here is a 1982 model bus. The bus was the 8 seater version of what was previous known as the microbus in the T2 models and the Caravelle in the later T3. Of the 600 or so air-cooled T3's there were only around 150 Buses. This one is a 2L fuel injected air-cooled with the 4 speed transmission.

I was lucky enough to purchase this around 2 years ago from a guy who was a big T3 fan and had two others at them time. Last I checked he still has a single cab ute and a Caravelle. Thankfully the rust in the T3's is never as bad as that in the T2's so there wasn't a lot of work to do. I would go into the details on T3 rust but I believe that would warrant it's own post. This T3 was 2-tone with the light Yellow and Bamboo yellow on the bottom. We are going to keep this one true to original colours and will be redoing the interior with a rock-n-roll bed perfect for the weekends away.

Keep your eyes peeled for more pics when she comes available.