CC Outtake: VW T3 Transporter Double-Cabin Tristar: Much Rarer Than I Realized

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As Amazonray and I were crossing this grassy parking lot at the Powerland Museum a few weeks back, I peeled off a few quick shots of this double-cabin (“DoKa”) VW T3 Transporter, given that it’s pretty unusual in the US. As best as I can tell, VW did not import these officially to the US, due to the infamous 25% chicken tax. But it turns out to be even rarer than I thought. 

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At the time, I didn’t even notice the “Tristar”emblem stuck to its front end below the windshield. But a bit of Googling tell me that according to “legend”, only some 1500 Tristars were ever built, as a luxury version of the DoKa T3; some 500 were AWD Syncros; the rest 2WD. Given the lack of Syncro badges, I’m assuming its the latter.

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So what makes this so special? For the typical sparse German standards of the time, this was a luxurious version of the T3, with nicer upholstery, and other touches.. But the most unusual is the second rear door in back, o the driver’s side. The standard T3 Doka had only a curbside rear door. I’m guessing the tooling for the other side already existed, for RHD countries, but in the Tristar, both were included.

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The cabin in these T3s is very practical, in that classic old-school German way. The upholstery and other materials wear like iron, even if the wasserboxer 2.1 liter four doesn’t.

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The sideboards on these beds fold down flat, for loading or hauling oversize objects.

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Of course, the bed is a bit high, since it sits over the engine. There is a storage compartment under the front of the bed, but on the double cab, it’s none too big. Well, everything is a trade off.

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Compared to an big American double cab pickup, the DoKa T3 is a paragon of space efficiency. Of course, it won’t tow 10,000 lbs.