- History of Caddy dates back to 1979
- First appeared in USA, and then Europe in 1982
- One of the best-selling light vans in Europe
For the past 10 years, the Volkswagen Caddy has been one of the bestselling light vans in Europe. The Caddy has built up quite a reputation for its strength and durability during its relatively short life cycle, and the current generation still remains high on many buyers’ wish list despite it approaching its 12th birthday.
You maybe therefore be interested to learn to that the Volkswagen Caddy was actually conceived at the other side of the pond, by Volkswagen of America’s development team in the late seventies.
Back then, the Volkswagen Golf - or Rabbit, as it was known there - was selling well, and the development team were constantly churning out new derivatives, like the five door, convertible, saloon (later called the VW Jetta), and an estate.
Pickup trucks have, for the past half a century or so, defined the American automotive industry, so it wasn’t long before Volkswagen was trying to craft a commercial variant out of its little car. By 1979, the first VW Rabbit Pickups were rolling off the production line in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
It wasn’t long before the pickup was introduced to Europe, under the ‘Caddy’ nameplate. Because this size of pickup wasn’t a big market in Europe, it sold in relatively low numbers and often included a canopy to help it appeal to mainstream van buyers.
The first generation Caddy was manufactured at a Golf plant in Sarajavo, Bosnia, and came with a choice of either a small petrol or diesel engine. After the Bosnian War broke out in 1992, production of the Volkswagen Caddy was suspended indefinitely and the name lay dormant for a couple of years.
In 1995, VW’s subsidiary Seat had developed a van variant of its small passenger car, called the Inca. It was so good that VW took the decision to add its badge to it, and the two models went on to be top sellers across Europe. Its main competitors were the Vauxhall Combo and Renault Kangoo.
VW’s famed 1.9TDi engine was one of the more popular engine choices, while the 550kg payload allowance and 2.9 cubic metre load volume meant it could carry more than most of its competitors.
By the turn of the millennium the Caddy was a household name among van buyers, and was recognised for its durability and reliability. The only problem was, the Caddy and Inca shared the production line with the base vehicle, the Seat Ibiza, which was approaching the end of its life cycle and a new generation was underway.
The decision was taken to end all Seat-badged versions of the light van, and by shifting production of the Volkswagen Transporter T5 to Hannover, the Caddy could have its own dedicated production facility in Poznan, Poland, where the current model is still produced.
Going into production at its new home in 2003, the new model featured an increased payload of up to 750kg, and an increased load volume of up to 3.2 cubic metres. By this time, the sector was rapidly expanding, with new names like the Citroen Berlingo, Peugeot Partner and Fiat Dolbo.
The 1.9TDi remained the fan’s favourite, although it was replaced by 1.6 and 2-litre units during the 2010 facelift. A longer wheel base version, the Caddy Maxi, was offered from 2007, which aimed to bridge the large gap between the standard Caddy and 5 cubic metre Volkswagen Transporter T5.
Present day and beyond
Despite the current generation of Caddy being older than its competitors, it remains in high demand with Volkswagen again having to increase shifts at Poznan to keep up with demand. The Volkswagen Caddy defies its age thanks to the 2010 update, but a replacement is earmarked for next year.