Every time a used Volkswagen Transporter T5 appears before an auctioneer’s rostrum eager hands shoot up and online bidders join the fray with gusto as the bidding battle commences and the price steadily rises.

VW’s evergreen workhorse is staggeringly popular among self-employed trades people and small business owners who need a dependable load shifter that will burnish their reputation thanks to its quality and reliability. That is why we have made it our Used Van of the Year for 2015.

Before we delivered our verdict however we sought the opinion of some of the industry’s most-widely-respected lessors, auction companies and residual value specialists. They are listed below; and their enthusiasm for Transporter appears to know no bounds.

“Transporter is reliable, the build quality is great and demand is always very strong if the van concerned has a good level of specification,” one auctioneer says. “Buyers will almost literally fight over it!”

“T5 continues to out-perform all other models in its sector when it comes to the prices it realises second-hand and quite rightly commands the highest residual values,” another expert observes. “Its service, maintenance and repair costs are almost identical to those of Ford’s Transit Custom.”

Some may view that as a surprising contention given that Transit Custom is a more-modern vehicle than T5. It is a better-looking one too; not difficult given what one can only describe as Transporter’s Plain-Jane looks.

“Some people might argue that it is beginning to look dated,” the expert continues. “However its classic lines actually help it to stand out from the crowd of latest-generation vehicles, many of which have a very similar appearance.

“High-specification examples with air-conditioning are greatly-prized and fiercely contested over in open auctions, often selling at up to £2,500 above the guide price,” he adds. “Examples finished in metallic paint or any of the popular solid colours sell for even more of a premium.”

Even Transporters finished in common-or-garden white and in basic trim sell strongly though, he admits. Dealers are more than happy to bid for them, safe in the knowledge that retail buyers will snap them up.

Another industry insider highlights the long-standing enthusiasm among buyers for high-horsepower examples of the bigger Transporters.

He refers to T5’s “iconic status.” He goes on to add; “The ownership and driver experience delivered by this VW elevate it above the pack.”

Another Transporter enthusiast points to the vehicle’s driver appeal and adds that even older examples attract keen interest. A further reason why they are in demand he believes is the number of private buyers eager to convert them into camper vans and take off on that long-planned trip around the UK; or round the world.

Did You Know?

Volkswagen unveiled its T1 Transporter in right-hand drive mode at the Earls Court Motor Show, London, in 1954.


Highly commended – Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

Mercedes-Benz’s Sprinter is almost as popular in the used van market as VW’s Transporter thanks to its build quality, the number of safety features it boasts, the breadth of the range and the strength of the Three Pointed Star’s dealer network.

“It combines technical excellence with robust engineering characteristics and is enjoyable to drive,” says one industry observer. “It offers a quality of driving environment that is second to none,” says another.

“It is still the strongest 3.5-tonne panel van in the used market offering as it does a good mixture of reliability and practicality,” adds a third. “Many are offered for sale with up to 150,000 miles on the clock, but buyers are not put off.”

And the most popular model in the line-up? The 313CDI long-wheelbase high-roof insists a leading specialist.

“It’s the one to go for if you need a large panel van with strong residual values,” he contends.

Market stall holders, subcontractors to parcels carriers and carpet fitters would all doubtless agree.

Our thanks to LeasePlan, CAP, Manheim, CD Auctions, Glass’s, Van Monster KeeResources, BCA and Shoreham Vehicle Auctions for their assistance.