VW’s current strategy to design larger cars specifically for the US market isn’t the first time around. In the early sixties, VW gave serious thought to a six-seater rear-engine sedan to take on the Americans on their own (big) terms. Obviously inspired by the 1960 Corvair, which made a huge impression in Europe, but taken even further: the EA 128 was a fair chunk bigger and wider than the Corvair, right into mid-size territory. And with bench seats to seat six big Amerikaner. Even a wagon version (Kountry Knecht?). But where to get the underpinnings and six-cylinder engine for the AmiWagen? Where else:
Porsche, of course; that well-spring of VW prototypes and engineering for decades. And how convenient: the timing in 1962 was handy for Porsche, since their own new six-cylinder 901 (911) was just in gestation. The result: a (US) mid-sized sedan version of the 911, from the suspension right up to the steering wheel. And of course the 911 engine, which looks almost lost in that big rear end (pic here). Large copyrighted exterior pics here and here.
Stretching 4.7 meters (185 inches), the EA128 was a half-foot longer than the Corvair, and from the looks of it, substantially wider. The front seat was clearly designed for three-across seating, with a 40/60 split bench. (excellent pic here).
The 911 engine was detuned to 90 hp, which was respectable for European standards of the time, but the 911’s torque curve would have been anything but familiar with the typical American driver. Never mind the cost to build it, which presumably was at least one of the EA 128’s downfall. The Corvair’s own downward trajectory probably didn’t help. And even if VW could rationalize its production, it would have still come out way more expensive than a Fairlane. But VW had it all wrong: this should have been sold as a Porsche, with a zippy new name, say…Panamera.