Junkyard Find: 1973 Volkswagen LT 28

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

As far as I know, the Volkswagen LT van was never sold new in the United States, and this is the first one I’ve ever seen in an American wrecking yard. At first glance, I assumed it was some sort of Grumman or specialty body on a Big Three chassis.

But as soon as I saw this VW/Audi four-cylinder in the front, I knew I was looking at something German (and incredibly, dangerously slow).

It makes sense that someone in the San Francisco Bay Area would want to drive a European-market box truck, and it has the stickers to suit that image.

Looks like a very useful vehicle for urban deliveries, though extended highway drives must have been pretty miserable with double-digit horsepower moving this big box.

Plenty of cargo space.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Germany says Germany says on Nov 30, 2014

    Murilee, I think you really got someting wrong here in regards to the model year (for the first time I have read your junkyard finds, as far as I can judge). I was born in 1973 (in the good old beloved and much to early deceased West Germany) and I know this model of car is younger than I am although it looks so much older than I do. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_LT#History According to wikipedia it was introduced in 1975. This car was very rare even on German streets because it didn't make much sense to buy the LT instead of the T2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Type_2#T2 or the T3 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Type_2_(T3) simply because these offered enough luggage space for less money. I can say for my hometown that less than one LT was sold for every ten or so T2 or T3. The engine might seem small by American standards, but it was also fitted into the Audi 100 sedan (1976 and later) and even into the Porsche 924 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porsche_924#History (see text to the left of the picture) Now in regards to the car choices of the left and right wings - that used to be easy in the old days (70s/80s/90s) over here in Germany. Left wing types drove VWs and Mercedes Benzes with diesel engines or maybe a Citroen or a Volvo, possibly a Toyota Station wagon. Right wing types drove VWs and Mercedes Benzes with petrol engines while a surprising number of bad old Nazis were in favour of petrol Toyota sedans (Carina, Camry etc.). Of course, today you need a university studies to find out who drives what. Chris P.S. The stickers on the LT shown above clearly indicate that this car spent its first life on German - no thats incorrect - on Bavarian streets and was exported to the US as a used car

  • Bent Bent on Feb 27, 2015

    I'm the last owner of that 1976 Mk1 LT35. It's actually a Mk1 LT was first manufactured in 1976. The previous owner managed to register it as a 1973 model, no doubt to circumvent smog check rules. He passed away and the vehicle was abandoned in a storage garage. His landlord got his GF to sign the van over to him and subsequently sold to me. It's a long story how it ended up in a wrecking yard. Rest assured, it was too far gone to save. Cheaper to bring another on in from Europe. Anyway, the LT's which came with gasoline engines used the same 2.0 inline-4 which Audi also put in the first generation Porsche 924 which they were also building. The LT versions were tuned for torque. Anything over 50mph is a struggle. I couldn't do 40mph trying to drive this guy back from Burbank, CA. BTW, the stickers are from 2 owners ago. I never got around to peeling them off which pissed off my neighbors to no end.😉 I still have two of the wheels which the junkyard didn't even want. They are 6x205mm which is the same as MB Unimogs and the dually MB Sprinters. Really useless in the US unless you have one of these bigger LT's. It might interest some to know that later models had a 5-cyl diesels & turbodiesels which found their way in Volvos of the same era. I hope this has answered some of your questions.

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  • FreedMike The company logo needs to be bigger on the tailgate - it can't be deciphered easily from Pluto.
  • ToolGuy On a not-long drive last night to the next county over, my spouse grilled me about Rivian and Rivian products. So congratulations, Rivian, you are officially on the Non-Enthusiast Radar.
  • Cprescott My 2016 Hyundai that I bought in January 2019 cost $13k and takes less than 10 minutes to fuel and gets over 500 miles to a tank - lifetime average MPG of 45. Golf carts make no sense at all.