By on November 25, 2010

Two fastbacks found in one week; now there’s something to be thankful for (not that I don’t have plenty already). The Packard Clipper Super and this Volkswagen Type 3 may not seem to share anything other than their tapering hind ends, but there is one other quality that they both have in common, and it makes the VW worthy to share the podium with it:

Quality. Packard was famous for their passion in perfecting and refining the highest quality cars in the first half of the 20th Century. It’s easy to forget, but taking a good look at this VW reminded me how the workmanship and material quality on these cars is absolutely superb. That alone ignited a little brief flame of lust for it, which I hadn’t ever quite felt before. It also helps explain why folks were willing to pay a premium price at the time for a car which still suffered from many of the Beetle’s shortcomings.

The Type 3 is a very polarizing car, and it was so from its very beginning in the summer of 1961. Reaction to it largely depended on one’s relationship to the Beetle: for those that thought of the Beetle as a slow poor man’s Porsche 356 (and many did in the fifties), the Type 3 narrowed the gap substantially: an affordable Porsche sedan. Buyers who bought a Beetle because it was cool or just cheap, but came to hate its many shortcomings and would really rather have had a Mustang or a Cutlass, the Type 3 was totally wasted on them. It was still all Volkswagen under its thick-gauge skin.

The Type 3 VW first appeared in the traditional notchback sedan format. It was  a highly anticipated car in Europe, as the whole continent watched and waited to see how and when Volkswagen would address the obvious shortcomings of the then 25 year old Beetle. Germans were quickly becoming more affluent, and the rest of the industry rightfully targeted their growing purchasing power with mid-level cars like the Borgward Isabella, the BMW 1500/1800, and of course the ever popular mid level Opels and German Fords. VW was late to the party, and everyone was in a high state of anticipation.

The VW 1500, as it was called, was decidedly a mixed bag. One could rightfully say it was nothing more than a Beetle wrapped in a stylish new dress: it rode on the same wheelbase and platform frame mighty similar to the Beetle. Yes, the track was widened at the rear (as was the Beetle’s a few years later), but the front suspension was fundamentally the same, and the engine was classic VW: the same basic case, with bigger bore cylinders, a longer stroke, as well as a re-arranged cooling system where the fan was on the back end of the crankshaft (pancake), allowing a drastic reduction in the engine’s height.

For those that were expecting VW to do something actually new, like FWD, water cooling, a roomy body or a modern high-rpm OHC engine were sorely disappointed, and had to wait over a decade until the Audi-based Passat came along. A whole slew of the Beetle’s biggest shortcomings were not improved, or not enough so: the heater was still inadequate, handling on long fast sweepers invariably induced oversteer, and rear seat egress and leg room was still subpar. How hard would it have been for VW to lengthen the platform by four inches, add rear doors, and make it a legitimate sedan capable of carrying four adults in comfort?

(In Brazil, VW did make a four door version of the Type 3, but still on the same wheelbase, so rear leg room wasn’t any better either.)

The answer is obvious: the Type 3 was initially built right alongside the Type 1 (Beetle) in Wolfsburg, and it was cheaper and more expedient to make it a “Super Beetle” rather than a truly new car, or even just a slightly longer one. It largely solved the problem in Europe where Beetle fatigue set in much sooner than in the US. That also explains why VW didn’t import Type 3s to the US until 1966, even though the rest of the world was worthy of them since 1962.

That’s not to say there wasn’t a busy gray market importing Type 3s from Germany to the US. Even VW dealers were doing it, to keep their loyal customers happy looking for an upgrade, although the price was stiff: about $3,000 ($21k adjusted) in 1964, when a US Beetle was going for $1595. Quite a premium for better visibility, more trunk room and twenty-five horsepower. When the Type 3s where finally imported by VW, that premium dropped substantially: this 1969 listed at $2295, vs. $1799 for a ’69 Beetle.

I happen to have an April 1964 Car and Driver in my lap, which devotes the bulk of the issue analyzing why VW wasn’t importing the Type 3, and the ins and outs of gray imports. Production constraints was one of them, since VW was building a huge new factory in Emden, where Type 3 production was eventually moved to from Wolfsburg. And as long as the Beetle was still red hot in the US, VW didn’t feel any particular need to supplant it. Another theory was that VW at the time was anxious about the huge success of the Beetle, and the impact it had on the US industry and the trade imbalance with Germany. Since gray market imports where technically “used cars”, they didn’t add to the swelling official VW sales numbers, and so VWoA did little to impede them.

That issue of C/D also tested a 1500 S (65 hp twin carb) Notchback, and put its finger on its pros and cons. It certainly was nippier than the 40 hp Beetle, especially in the first two gears. And it could hit alofty 88 mph, eventually. But 0-60 took still eighteen seconds, glacially slow for today’s standards. They loved the superb visibility instead of sitting in a cave. And the build quality, down to every little piece of heavily chromed interior trim, was absolutely world class. But it still handled like a Beetle, jacking up on its rear swing axles on fast curves. The revised trailing arm rear suspension was still a few years away.

By 1966, the Emden plant was in full swing and Americans were finally worthy of Type 3s, even though they were already looking pretty out of date by then. But the notchback sedan was replaced by this new fastback body style, along with the very versatile Variant wagon (Squareback). Was VW influenced by the resurgence of  fastbacks in the US during the mid-sixties? The Barracuda and Mustang fastback ignited a new fad for the swoopy tails, and soon all of Detroit got in the act. It seems kind of ironic that ultra-conservative VW would fall for such a fad.

But there were some compensations, including a rear trunk somewhat bigger than the notchback. Combined with the front trunk,

the Fastback was a bit of a Swiss Army knife, and made good use of the low and flat pancake motor, as a young Dustin Hoffman points out in this famous “where’s the engine?” ad for the Fastback:

Presumably, he got the job because his short stature makes the Fastback look larger than life; an old Detroit ad trick.

Undoubtedly, the Squareback was even more practical: it offered a front trunk in addition to a tall rear cargo area. It deserves its own CC, so we’ll honor it then. But let’s talk about one of the more remarkable features that both Type 3s came with starting in 1968: electronic fuel injection.

This was a very big deal at the time. Sure, the much more expensive Mercedes could be had with Einspritzer, but these were pricey mechanical units. The Bosch D-Jetronic was the mother of all modern electronic fuel injection systems, employing a vacuum sensor in the intake manifold to measure air mass, as well as several other sensors to determine temperature, engine speed and a few other parameters. An analog ECU made all the requisite calculations. And it worked like a charm: easy starting, no stalling, stumbling or flat spots. The same basic characteristics that were going to make fuel injection the next big thing in Detroit in the late fifties on luxury and performance cars was now standard, on a Volkswagen. And it would take over two more decades before proper port injection finally became common on American cars.

Ironically, Bosch’s Jetronic system was based heavily on the Bendix FI system patents, which was briefly optional on some American cars in the late fifties before teething problems and high prices quickly had Detroit spending the money on taller fins instead.

VW did give the Type 3 a nose job in 1970, pushing it forward and squaring it off to increase the trunk space as well as improve safety a wee bit, presumably. I’ve had one of the later ones in the can for ages (lower in photo above), but I prefer the original, and I’m glad I held out. They’re getting pretty hard to find anymore too.

This particular car, which its brand new owner proudly showed off to me, was a one-owner car that was obviously well kept, including a long period of little use. He was thrilled to find it in a newspaper ad (what’s that?). And it still runs like a sewing machine with its fuel injection intact. Sadly, or foolishly, many Type 3 owners tore out the Bosch and replaced it with a retrograde twin carb set-up, being intimidated by repairing it. In reality, these are quite rugged and fairly simple to fix, at least for someone inducted into the school of Jetronic.

The Fastback was a bit of an oddity: was it supposed to be sporty, or luxurious, or just a high-priced VW? Its appeal and sales were undoubtedly to those upgrading from a Beetle; it’s hard to imagine someone trading in a Cutlass for one. But for some, its familiar qualities, and just the quality of a Volkswagen were a habit hard to break, except with a Mercedes perhaps. And even today, its Germanic charms are seductive, but it would have to be without the automatic, thank you, even if it is spelled out in letters of such obvious high quality.

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43 Comments on “Curbside Classic Fastback Week: 1969 Volkswagen 1600 Type 3 Fastback...”


  • avatar

    It’s truly a shame we will never see cars with the build quality of these late ’60′s VW’s ever again. They really were a world-class product.

  • avatar

    And you need to do a CC on the Beetle with Automatic Stick Shift!

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      +1 only because Paul does a fairly decent job with technical descriptions and I’ve always been fascinated by that one (just like Chrysler’s “Fluiddrive” technology, I’m fascinated by automotive things that may or may not be technological dead ends.)

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Yes, that would be good, although its technical details were really quite simple. I had a GF with one once, and it was a real problem driving it, because I have a habit of fondling the gear shift as I’m driving along. Every time I touched it, the clutch would disengage.  Made for less than smooth driving.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Yeah but was it electrical, was it hydraulic, what happened if the system failed?  Was there a back up clutch pedal?  How does it compare to those VW DSG transmissions?

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      In a nutshell: it was a standard VW manual transmission (with first gear deactivated) with a clutch that had a vacuum servo, which got its signals from a sensor on the shift lever. Whenever you reached for the stick, the clutch would disengage, and you could shift.
      To get going, there was also a torque converter in front of the clutch. So you would just put the car in gear, and step on the gas. The torque converter meant that you could actually start in any of the three gears, but starting in high meant extremely slow pick up.
      Normally, one used started in what I think was called 1 (actually 3rd gear), and shifted into 2 (actually 4th) around 35-45 mph. So in normal driving, one shift up or down sufficed.
      If one wanted a brisker take-off, you put it into Low (actually 2nd), and then shifted twice.
      I may be wrong on what the gears were called, but that’s what they corresponded to in the actual transmission. It made the Beetle substantially more lethargic than it was. Actually, by then (1968-1970) the Beetle had reached it’s horsepower peak, and a regular stick shift version properly driven, could be reasonably brisk, at least in the lower gears.
      If the clutch sensor or servo failed, no problem; you just put it into high, floored it, and slowly putted away.
      These type of hybrid/semi-automatic transmissions have an long history, (Chrysler Fluid Drive, etc.) and became popular in Europe again in the sixties, because they were cheaper and more efficient than a conventional automatic. Many European cars, including Mercedes offered semi-automatics back then.
      Americans did not take to the VW automatic stick shift, and it disappeared after a couple of years.

    • 0 avatar

      And if you were good you could use the shifter for a quick burst of RPM’s, just like fanning the clutch on a dirt bike-don’t ask me how I know :) And Paul’s nutshell description is right on.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadInSideInc

      Saab had, in the NG900 (European models only), a ‘Senstronic’ transmission with roughly the same principle. Touch gear knob to disengage clutch.
      Word on the internets is that they were a b*tch to keep running and even more expensive than regular Saab issue.

    • 0 avatar
      MadHungarian

      Had one of those once and liked it.  If you want brisker acceleration, ignore the owners manual and use all three gears.

    • 0 avatar
      Bancho

      I had a ’70 Beetle convertible with the autostick. It was decent enough and pretty reliable. The only time I had a problem with it was when a spade connector decided to come loose back in the engine compartment. With that particular connector off, you couldn’t shift the transmission into any gear. A quick squeeze from the pliers in the VW supplied toolkit fixed that and it never gave me a lick of trouble again.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    My recollection is people tried very hard to like the Type 3 but there was just something odd about them. Initially they came nicely finished and equipped, but VW caught the bean counter  disease and stripped the nice bits out.

    Sadly, this version also gave rise to the Type 3 Karman Ghia. Ironically, one of the prettiest cars ever mass produced was replaced by one of the ugliest.

    http://www.motorbase.com/profiles/vehicle/picture.ehtml?i=223;p=-1679798505
     
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      The Type 3 Karman Ghia didn’t replace the original; both were available, and in the end, the beautiful original won out and long outlasted the upstart. We’ll do a KG CC, and go into that in more detail.

    • 0 avatar
      SimonAlberta

      Everyone is entitled to an opinion and I fully respect yours. I do, however, wish that you and many others, would refrain from expressing opinions about the subjective topic of a vehicle’s appearance as though it were fact.
       
      As far as it goes, my OPINION is that the Type 3 is a fantastic looking vehicle. That is a FACT! No, no, I mean it is factual that that is my opinion. Right?

    • 0 avatar
      Towncar

      Wow, I am seriously glad to know at last what that Type 3 Karmann Ghia is!  Were they ever actually sold in the U.S.?
      I remember seeing only one, when I was shopping with my dad for my first car in ’72.  We went to the VW dealer in our little town (this was when VW had dealers in little towns) and they had one sort of sitting ambiguously between the used and new lots.
      I knew immediately it was something odd, and I’ll never forget how the salesman stammered when I asked him what kind it was.  He obviously had no idea, and ended up just waving his arms and saying, “It’s one of them kind that shoulda stayed over yonder!”  Now at last–the rest of the story!
       

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      I’ve never understood sales people who didn’t understand every last detail of the product they sell and why they can’t at least LOOK/ACT like their product is the best thing since invented since sex.

  • avatar
    Abraxas

    VW Group is interested in buying former Alfa Romeo factory and headquarters ( http://www.alvolante.it/news/volkswagen_sede_arese_alfa_romeo-368751044 ) .

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I’ts nice to know that there are still examples out there of the time when VW made quality cars that were practical AND good looking. The only sad thing is this was before I was born. Well, other sad things are they weren’t very powerful or roomy either. But they look good, and they will last forever.  :)

  • avatar

    I smell Air Cooled Appreciation Week coming up….

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      How about a week of appreciation for the smell of aircooled VWs? Seriously – I love that old VW smell. I’ve never been able to zero in on the cause even after owning a half dozen aircooled VWs. My current 13 year old watercooled VW even has that smell if I don’t drive it for a week. I think some of it must be the foam they use in the dash or the stuffing in the seats. And NO, I’m not some sort of weed smoking hippie… LOL!

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      The thing which always resonates with me is the distinctive “thonk” the brake pedal makes when you slide your foot over to the gas pedal to take off from stop. There’s nothing else like it.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Yeah. That thonk is a great sound.
      I am also hooked on the little whine my Beetle fan made at a certain RPM when I accelerated too. My current ’65 Beetle is in a million pieces now and I switched to a 911 replica fan shroud for the Type IV engine that I put into my Beetle so that whine is gone. It was one of only a couple ways to get that kind of engine into a Beetle and still get the engine cover to close completely. Part of my “sleeper” equation. My car is only a threat to other Beetles b/c even modest Kias have much more power these days though. Mine makes ~90HP which is a pleasant step up from the original ~40HP my car had.
      I can appreciate the refinement of any modern car but I really enjoy driving old cars for their character and quirks as long as the steering and brakes work well. I’ve upgraded those items on my Beetle after driving my Beetle (yeah, same car) in Naples, Italy for a couple of years. The brakes were typical drum – lots of fade. I put four wheel disc brakes on it. The steering was good but there was alot of body roll. This translated into a car that handled rough pavement very well (see Southern Italy) but needed a soft suspension to do it. On the other hand a car with alot of body roll scares the driver long before he pushes it too hard in a curve… I’m adding swaybars front and rear and attempting to tune the suspension for less roll and a little more grip without riding like a log wagon. In VA one day I followed another Beetle with a lowered suspension through town. In an effort to get it low the owner gave up most of the wheel travel and a compliant suspension. It appeared RR crossings were torture.
      These fastbacks are a favorite of mine. I like anything with a fastback body style. I”d like to build a Hebmueller convertible replica from a Beetle. Also has a long rear deck. If only I was rich and had a warehouse large enough to store ~15-20 vehicles…

  • avatar
    Jimal

    As the owner of a ’68 Fastback I can attest to the thickness of the metal in these cars and the overall quality. Type III owners/restorers are relentlessly cheap, as Type IIIs aren’t particularly collectible compared to Beetles or the way overpriced Microbus and Microbus derivatives. New floor pans are now available and there is a tight network of owners and parts collectors to fill most needs.

  • avatar
    Mike C.

    Were the updated Karman Ghias imported to the US?  I don’t believe I’ve ever seen one in the flesh.  I haven’t seen a Type 3 in a long, long time here in the northeast.  I always thought the square back looked pretty cool…

  • avatar
    MadHungarian

    I think the Type 3 failed to catch on in the USA because VW did not fully understand the extent to which US Beetle buyers liked the car BECAUSE of, rather than in spite of, its faults and quirks.  An attempt to design some of the faults and quirks out of the car created something lacking in charm.

    This Fastback being an automatic brings up another observation.  One might ask, why was that transmission never offered in the Beetle?  The answer is, apparently, it requires some cutting of the floorpan to fit.  I have heard of owners doing it.  Query whether VW would have gotten more sales on this side of the pond, or at least more sales per buck/mark invested, by just doing the necessary engineering to fit a fully automatic transmission to the Beetle.

  • avatar
    russw

    Couple of the main points of the Type 3, that you missed.
    Measure the interior hip room in a Type 3 compared to a Type one. T-3 is wider inside than the Bug without increasing the track.
    Look at the design of the front end on a Type 3 compared to a Type 1.  Completely different design compared to the Bug. And, in my opinion a lot better handling car.
    As for the automatic, only thing I have seen discussed here is the Type 1 auto-stick.  The Type 3 automatic, was an actual 3 speed Borg-Warner designed automatic. Its heritage can still be found in many of the water cooled VW’s today.
    The reason it was never installed in the bug, was that it would have required a complete re-design of the rear suspension. Type 3 rear suspension was a bolt in sub-frame, meaning a lot less to change.
    I have driven a Type 3 since 1966, and currently own 4 of them.  I did own a Type 34 Ghia, but due to age and health problems, passed it on to someone who could finish it.
     

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      Boy Russ, did I started a mini storm by using the “c” word here to describe us Type 3 owners. Perhaps I could have chosen a better synonym but I was on the right track.

  • avatar
    ExPatBrit

    The first water cooled VW was the K70 which they picked up with acquisition of NSU.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Oh, we had one of these for a brief time in the 1970s.

    My only memory of it was when the reverse gear failed while trying to back out of a friend’s driveway, which faced downhill toward his expensive garage door.  The friend had to push our car out of his driveway with his car.  My dad unloaded the VW a short time later.

  • avatar
    KitaIkki

    The Brazilian 4-door Type 3 appears to have the fuel filler door on the rear fender.  Does that mean the gas tank is next to the engine?  Interesting.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    My father went on an economy kick in the mid-60′s, after years of buying big Fords and Mercurys, he decided to buy a 67 Fastback. This was particularly strange, as at the time both of my older brothers were in their teens and growing rapidly. I was still a pre schooler at the time, but I wasn’t getting any smaller, either. But we all crammed ourselves in there, any time all five of us needed to get somewhere together, like church for example (we were all altar boys, too…).
     
    Like many traditional families at the time, we only had one car and one driver. What I was not aware of at the time is that my father had his first heart attack, which finally prompted my mother to finally get her driver’s license at the age of 46. My mother got her license driving our previous automatic Mercury, but the VW was a stick. My poor father almost suffered another heart attack teaching her how to drive it, and she constantly nagged him about buying a stick car when he knew she couldn’t drive it. The final straw came when at a local department store, my mother somehow got the car stuck in reverse and spent several minutes circling a light post, until my older brother got the genius idea to just shut off the motor. She got out of the car and refused to ever get back in it as a driver.
     
    Several months later, we got our first Mercury Montego.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Thank you; your story made my morning. It so encapsulates how times have changed, no? Are am I wrong?

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @Paul, thanks for the kind words. Often I write about my personal experiences with cars on this site, and have never gotten any feedback. Not that I’m really looking for any, it’s just coincidental. It’s nice to be recognized from somebody from the masthead.
       
      Second, I have a feeling we were raised in similar style of households growing up, as you were an immigrant as a child, I was born here of naturalized parents; similar experiences, they always had the parents with the funny accent at the Boy Scout meetings. As much as we love or respect our parents, I wouldn’t want to live with my wife the same way my father lived with my mother. I think that it’s good that some things have changed.

  • avatar
    shaker

    An acquaintance had a brand new one of these in a blazing orange color, and it actually had air conditioning! I loved riding around in it – so “Euro” compared to the norm in the late ’60′s…

    I had a ’67 Beetle, and the thing that I remember about it was the high, comfortable front bucket seats – even at 6’4″, (and since it lacked a console, it wasn’t bad at all.)

    It’s too bad that physics was against the rear-engine behind the drive axle setup – a modern version of the flat-four with water cooling would be even more powerful, and yet have the same (or better) packaging efficiency.

  • avatar
    georgie

    Bought one of these used as a second car in about 1971 (it was a 1969 or1970 model, looked just exactly like the one pictured in the article)) no end of trouble with the fuel injection system. Very temperamental and difficult to keep running correctly. The clutch was about ready to quit so that didn’t make things any better. Sold it to a private party in 1973

    • 0 avatar
      russw

      As a VW mechanic back in the era of the D-Jetronic fuel injection, I specialized in the system.
      We at the dealers found that most complaints about the D-Jet, were not injection related.
      Vacuum leaks. The system was controlled by the manifold vacuum, and engine speed. Charging system problems, (They did not like low voltage in the charging system), tune-up problems, bad spark plug wires, bad ignition components,  bad grounds, loose wires,  etc.
      Our standard rule was to check all of that first, and then check the FI system.  Rarely did we have to go that far.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      I had a later version in the 1978 VW Westfalia van. D-Jetronic I think? No problems despite it’s 20+ years of age and neglect. It did have vacuum leaks at the injector seals and a bad EGR valve. Once those were correct for a total cost of $16 it ran like a clock and I saw as much as 23 mpg going to Grandma’s house. I switched to Corvair power a while back and I want to either figure out a way to put the VW injection on the Corvair engine or go MegaSquirt. I like my Dellorto 36mm DRLA carbs on my Type IV powered Beetle but I can’t afford a pair of 3-barrel Webers from a Porsche… GRIN!

      I mothballed the flat four in our Westfalia b/c it was due for a rebuild and I wanted more than 67 HP in a 4,000 lb van.

  • avatar
    Uncle Mellow

    I was a passenger in one of these “fastback” VWs one day in the early 70′s. Thankfully I didn’t see anyone I knew. Truly dreadfull car ,(except for the injection). I am sure VW would rather forget it ever existed.

  • avatar
    wmba

    We got these things for the 1962 model year in Canada.
    http://oldcarscanada.blogspot.com/2010/04/1964-volkswagen-1500-ts-sedan.html
     
    Since Beetles rusted like crazy behind the front doors and in front of the rear wheels round these parts, and the interior trim was all that kept the wind out, I am unable to appreciate what the high finish quality actually accomplished.
     
    These VW 1500s were just a more expensive and slightly quicker version of the original, with a gas gauge. BTW, 0-60 in 18 secs was the same as A Ford Falcon 6 with Fordomatic 2 speed slushbox, but much noisier.
     
    When I finally got a ride in 1964 in a real car ( other than US made), a Volvo 544, which didn’t rust when you looked at it and did 0-60 in perhaps 11 seconds, any lingering positive thoughts about VWs left me, because the price was the same at about $2700. No comparison whatsoever in any way that made rational sense.

  • avatar
    NauticalMan

    Just discovered this website and am fascinated.
     
    Had to comment here about the VW fastback.  My first new car was a 1965 Bug, but a year later off to Vietnam, so sold it and while there ordered my new 67 Fastback, drop shipped on a pier in Boston.  Loved it, took wonderful care of it, but after two years traded it in on my first ever Volvo.   The owner of the dealership was so taken by the car and its like new condition he sold it to a good friend, who took it on a trip to Pennsylvania shortly thereafter and the engine blew up!  This makes me old as dirt I guess.  Owned two Volvos, last one went well over 300K with fourth owner, but after four European cars which cost a mint to fix and service, went Japanese and lived happily thereafter.  Ok, have to admit have craved a Bimmer in moments of weakness!   Enjoy all your comments.

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    Presumably, [Hoffman] got the job because his short stature makes the Fastback look larger than life[,] an old Detroit ad trick.
     
    It’s an old porn industry trick too. Yet another similarity.

  • avatar

    Fastbacks look good but good luck working on their cramped engines and avoiding front fender rust, I wasn’t so happy with mine.

  • avatar
    terrieann

    My first car was a red orange 1971 VW Fastback. I never got over that car! I now drive an orange 1972 Fastback. Me and this car are together till death do us part. (My death, not hers. lol)

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    I used my earnings from a summer job to buy a 1970 Squareback in 1974 . It was far from trouble free , but I never had any problems with the fuel injection , tho IIRC the little connectors for the injectors occasionally loosened , requiring nothing more than a turn of the screw driver . Due to the F.I. system , it actually got slightly better gas mileage than the Beetle .At the time VW mechanics as well as Type I fans derided the Bosch system and many mechanics would automatically blame everything on the injection system and many owners switched to the dual carbs . As Williampenney says the cramped engine was often difficult to work on . At the time I was a D.I.Y.er and recall many skinned knuckles and remember many times on the ground looking up at the engine to fix I forget what . It was much roomier than the Beetle and if I folded the back seat down it was big enough for me to sleep in of course I’m a 5′ 5″ little guy . Sometimes wish I’d kept it . One plus the Type 3 had was the wide availability of parts , from the dealer or the junkyard , a big advantage over those kooky Japanese cars back in the mid- seventies .


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