The set of specifications for the new larger transporter, as an additional series, were very clear in requiring as much utility space as possible in a small footprint. The planned tonnage classes; from 2.8 tons gross vehicle weight upwards to 3.5 tons, called for a strong traction rear drive, and ruled out a rear engine placement in accordance with the original spacial requirements. As a result, the engine was located above the front axle, between the driver and passenger seat.
The new VW van celebrated its launch in 1975 in Berlin. The name given to Volkswagen's large transporter was as functional as the entire vehicle: it was just called LT, which is simply the abbreviation of Lasten-Transporter (‘cargo transporter').
The LT came in three gross vehicle weights, from 2.8 to 3.5 tons (LT 28, LT 31, LT 35), with two wheelbases, two roof options, and with bodywork options as a panel van, a compact, a platform vehicle and a chassis/cab combination.
The ratio of utility space to footprint was nothing short of sensational: Thanks to the cab-over-engine construction and the overall width of 2.02 meters, even the compact LT panel van (with the short wheelbase and little over four and a half meters in length) offered a load length of over three meters and a load area of around 5.5 square meters.
Even at that time, Volkswagen's transporter developers placed great value on secure and comfortable handling. For that reason, the LT was equipped with a front axle with independent front wheel suspension, which at that time and in later years, was not standard in this class of vehicle. Later options, such as the heavy LT 40 to LT 55, had a rigid front axle for reasons relating to load-carrying capacity; this is remains common procedure today on more modern light trucks.
In time, problems were presented by the choice of engine for the original LT, and Volkswagen's own stocks offered only the familiar air-cooled boxer engines for rear mounting. The dimensions of the new generation of engines for the Volkswagen Golf, which was launched at practically the same time, were too small, as was the power unit on the still youthful mid-class Volkswagen Passat sedan.