The Truth About Cars » Typ 34 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 24 Jul 2014 13:40:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Typ 34 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com 50 Years Typ 34: A Short History Of The Large Karmann http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/02/50-years-typ-34-a-short-history-of-the-large-karmann/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/02/50-years-typ-34-a-short-history-of-the-large-karmann/#comments Fri, 25 Feb 2011 13:54:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=385238

Back in the late 50s, Wilhelm Karmann had the inside track in Wolfsburg. His Osnabrück company built the Beetle convertible and the Karmann Ghia (a.k.a. “Typ 14”) for Volkswagen. Rubbing shoulders with Volkswagen engineers and designers, Karmann knew early what others didn’t know: He knew the plans for the notchback VW 1500 “Typ 3”. Karmann shared the secret with the Ghia designers in Turin. Luigi Segre, head of the studio, could not control his excitement.

Drawing after drawing for a new larger Karmann Ghia based on the larger Volkswagen was sent to Osnabrück, along with letters that implored Karmann to build the car. Karmann was all for it, but Volkswagen in Wolfsburg was hesitant. The smaller Karmann Ghia was selling well, and why invest money into too many niches?

Finally, Heinrich Nordhoff, chief of Volkswagen, green lighted the project – with reservations. He doubted it would be a big seller. While the Typ 3 was developed, Karmann developed in parallel the “large Karmann.” To throw off spies, the project received the name “Lyon”. That could be a city in France. Or a big German sausage, “die Lyoner Wurst.”


The project leader at Ghia in Turin was Luigi Sartorelli, the man who had designed the smaller Karmann. For the large Karmann, Sartorelli drew inspiration from a surprising corner: In the U.S., the rear engined, compact and sleek Corvair had created a minor revolution.

Sartorelli’s first designs were heavily influenced by the Corvair, down to the closely grouped twin headlights. Those collided with German law. The inner pair was relegated more towards the center of the car. Segre and Sartorelli protested against the brutalization of their designs – even after production had begun, they sent designs for a different front.

At the Frankfurt Auto Show 1961, 50 years ago, the large Karmann was presented side by side with the freshly launched Typ 3. The model code for the large Karmann was Typ 34. At the time, this was the most expensive and most luxurious Volkswagen in the Wolfsburg line-up. The large Karmann could even be had with an electrically actuated sunroof – a revolution at its time. I remember hand cranked ones well into the 90s.


Despite rumors to the contrary, the large Karmann never had the the Bosch D-Jetronic injection engine. The technical data page of the 11/68 version of the VW 1600 L Karmann Ghia Coupé mentions only the naturally aspirated dual carbureted 1.6 liter engine 1.6 liter engine of the VW 1600. The Volkswagen historians confirm this.

The large Karmann was never officially offered in the U.S. However, many found their way across the Canadian border. Maintaining a show quality or even just a drivable large Karmann is an expensive proposition. Parts are hard to find. If you want to keep up a large Karmann, you better have two (one as a donor vehicle), or Murilee Martin’s number on the speed-dial.

Of course, Karmann immediately started out to design a convertible for the Typ 3, as they did for the Beetle and their own smaller Karmann. As told 2 days ago, this design was nixed, shortly before the introduction of the car.


One of the prototypes for the convertible survived in the Karmann Museum. After the Karmann plant was saved by Volkswagen end of 2009, the Museum was renamed to “Volkswagen Automobilsammlung Osnabrück.” Its chief, Klaus Ulrich, at Karmann since 1973, sometimes drives – very carefully – the prototype at old-timer rallies, such as at the Sachsen Classic Rallye in 2010 (picture above.)


Ulrich is proud of another rarity: The Karmann Ghia 1600 TL hatchback coupe. Built on the VW 1600 TL, it had a big hatch in the back and the rear seats could be folded down. Precursor of the hatchbacks of the 70s. Luigi Segre, who died in 1963, would have approved of the design: The twin headlights are illegally close together, framed in chrome trim. It was never built. Maybe not to steal the thunder of the Passat that came in 1973. It had a big hatch in the back and rear seats that could be folded down.

The large Karmann looked great, but I did not sell well. Only 42,500 units changed hands between 1962 and 1969.

At the end of 1968, Wilhelm Karmann received a letter from Wolfsburg: “In the interest of timely mutual planning, we would like to inform you that we intend to cease production of the Typ 34 in the following year.”

Volkswagen had a make good: The “Volksporsche” 914, built at Karmann from 1969 to 1976.

Catalog from 1964. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Sweet inspiration. The Corvair. Picture courtesy calconnect.com Launch of the large Karmann. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Klaus Ulrich in the Typ 34 convertible prototype at the Sachsen-Rallye 2010. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Never built: The Karmann Ghia 1600 TL hatchback coupe. Picture courtesy  Volkswagen Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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50 Years Of Typ 3. And The Ragtop That Never Was http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/02/50-years-of-typ-3-and-the-ragtop-that-never-was/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/02/50-years-of-typ-3-and-the-ragtop-that-never-was/#comments Wed, 23 Feb 2011 18:05:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=384925

The launch of the new Golf Cabriolet reminded me of a piece of Volkswagen lore: The convertible that never was. A few calls to the Volkswagen History Department (now called “Volkswagen Classic”) later, here is the story:

It was the height of the German Wirtschaftswunder, the economic miracle. End of the 50s. People had money. People had cars. Volkswagen had one car, the Bug. Or “Typ 1” as it was called in Wolfsburg.

Wait, Volkswagen had two more: The Volkswagen Transporter (Typ 2). And the Karmann Ghia. The internal model code “Typ14” was a dead giveaway that the Karmann Ghia was nothing else than a Bug with a sleeker body. Volkswagen had one car, one van, and a Bug posing as a sports-car.

Slowly, the folks in Wolfsburg became convinced that you can’t live on a Bug alone. So they set out to create a new car. Kind of new. At the time, everybody at Volkswagen lived and worked according to a set dogma, and any deviation was heresy. The engine had to be air-cooled. Air-cooled good, water-cooled bad. The engine had to be in the back. Back good, front bad. Cars had to have roundish shapes. Round good, corners bad.

And so, the VW 1500 was born, a car that celebrates its 50th birthday this year, in the Volkswagen Museum in Wolfsburg. The VW 1500 (internally called “Typ 3”) was a classic 3box sedan, with a twist. The engine was a bigger bore, 1.5 liter engine from the Bug, but it was a bug engine that was squashed.

Known as “Flachmotor”, the engine was flattened, only 40 cm (16 inches) high. This way, the VW 1500 could have two trunks. One in the front, one in the back. The engine did its thing below the rear trunk. To get to it, you had to remove all your trunk junk in the rear, and open a lid.

The VW 1500 received something unheard of. A station wagon model. It was called “Variant”, a moniker that graces Volkswagen wagons to this day. The initial VW 1500 Variant was targeted at tradesmen, but soon it became the darling of families who used it to vacation at Lake Garda or in Rimini – steeled by the knowledge that their air-cooled VW 1500 won’t boil over when crossing the Brenner Pass.

A hopped-up Typ 3, the 1500 S, had dual carburetors and breathtaking 54 hp. It was succeeded by a 1.6 liter model that didn’t offer more horses. The 1.6 liter engine followed the VW 1600 into its grave in 1973.

In 1965, the VW 1600 received its first fastback, called a “Fliessheck” in VW-speak. It would set the scene for many fastbacks at Volkswagen. For a long time, a real Volkswagen was either a “Fliessheck” fastback, or a “Steilheck” Variant. A 3 box sedan was considered a new act of heresy for a long time.

Right from the start, there was a Typ 3 with a body by Karmann, called the “Typ 34”, analogous to the  Typ 1 / Typ 14. In public, it was called Karmann Ghia, just like the smaller, Bug-based one. The practical Germans simply called them “large Karmann” and “small Karmann”.

There nearly was another one, the large Karmann Ghia convertible. Several prototypes were built, one is still at the Volkswagen Museum in Wolfsburg, one at Karmann in Osnabrück. According to lore, the catalogues for the Typ 34 ragtop were already printed when then decision came from above that a convertible Bug and a Typ 14 ragtop were enough of fresh air: No Typ 34 convertible.

In 1973, the history of the Typ 3 ended. It was replaced by a flagrant act of heresy, the Passat: Water-cooled, engine in the front, boxy shape. It was the beginning of a successful series of heresies, the Golf, the Scirocco, the Polo. They saved Volkswagen from certain obliteration, and laid the groundwork to Volkswagen’s success.

As someone who wrote, or directed the writing of, all Volkswagen catalogs from the Passat on out, I naturally was highly interested in the unprinted catalog for the ragtop that never was. Alas, nobody can find it at Volkswagen.

Maybe it’s just a good story, I thought, a story that became part of Volkswagen history, just like the Typ 3.  Until …

Leave it to the Best and Brightest to unearth something that was lost in the sprawling Volkswagen archives.  Roger628 found what could not be found in Wolfsburg. Not quite the catalog, but close: The American version of a flier, or “Streuer” as it was called in Wolfsburg. Trademark clean early Doyle Dane Bernbach design.  All (not quite, 2 seem to be missing) pages are here.

But then, where is the German catalog of the ragtop that never saw the light?

50 Years Of Typ 3. And The Ragtop That Never Was

The launch of the new Golf Cabriolet reminded me of a piece of Volkswagen lore: The convertible that never was. A few calls to the Volkswagen History Department (now called “Volkswagen Classic”) later, here is the story:

It was the height of the German Wirtschaftswunder, the economic miracle. End of the 50s. People had money. People had cars. Volkswagen had one car, the Bug. Or “Typ 1” as it was called in Wolfsburg.

Wait, Volkswagen had two more: The Volkswagen Transporter (Typ 2). And the Karmann Ghia. The internal model code “Typ14” was a dead giveaway that the Karmann Ghia was nothing else than a Bug with a sleeker body.

Slowly, the folks in Wolfsburg became convinced that you can’t live on a Bug alone. So they set out to create a new one. Kind of new. At the time, everybody at Volkswagen lived and worked according to a set dogma, and any deviation was heresy. The engine had to be air-cooled. Air-cooled good, water-cooled bad. The engine had to be in the back. Back good, front bad. Cars had to have roundish shapes. Round good, corners bad.

And so, the VW 1500 was born, a car that celebrates its 50th birthday this year, in the Volkswagen Museum in Wolfsburg. The VW 1500 (internally called “Typ 3”) was a classic 3box sedan, with a twist. The engine was a bigger bore, 1.5 liter engine from the Bug, but it was a bug engine that was squashed:

Known as “Flachmotor”, the engine was flattened, only 40 cm (16 inches) high. This way, the VW 1500 could have two trunks. One in the front, one in the back. The engine was below the rear trunk. To get to it, you had to remove all your trunk junk in the rear, and open a lid.

The VW 1500 received something unheard of. A station wagon model. It was called “Variant”, a moniker that graces Volkswagen wagons to this day. The initial VW 1500 Variant was targeted at tradesmen, but soon it became the darling of families who used it to vacation at Lake Garda or in Rimini – steeled by the knowledge that their air-cooled VW 1500 won’t boil over when crossing the Brenner Pass.

A hopped-up Typ 3, the 1500 S, had dual carburetors and breathtaking 54 hp. It was succeeded by a 1.6 liter model that didn’t offer more horses. The 1.6 liter engine followed the VW 1600 into its grave in 1973.

In 1965, the VW 1600 received its first hatchback, called a “Fliessheck” in VW-speak. It would set the scene for many hatchbacks at Volkswagen. For a long time, a real Volkswagen was either a “Fliessheck” hatchback or a “Steilheck” Variant. The 3 box sedan was considered a new act of heresy for a long time

Right from the start, there was a Typ 3 with a body by Karmann, called the “Typ 34”, analogous to the Typ 1 / Typ 14. In public, it was called Karmann Ghia, just like the smaller, Bug-based one. The practical Germans simply called them “large Karmann” and “small Karmann”.

There nearly was another one, the large Karmann Ghia convertible. Several prototypes were built, one is still at the Volkswagen Museum in Wolfsburg, one at Karmann in Osnabrück. According to lore, the catalogues for the Typ 34 ragtop were already printed when then decision came from above that a convertible Bug and a Typ 14 ragtop were enough of fresh air.

In 1973, the history of the Typ 3 ended. It was replaced by a heresy, the Passat: Water-cooled, engine in the front, boxy sha

The launch of the new Golf Cabriolet reminded me of a piece of Volkswagen lore: The convertible that never was. A few calls to the Volkswagen History Department (now called “Volkswagen Classic”) later, here is the story:

It was the height of the German Wirtschaftswunder, the economic miracle. End of the 50s. People had money. People had cars. Volkswagen had one car, the Bug. Or “Typ 1” as it was called in Wolfsburg.

Wait, Volkswagen had two more: The Volkswagen Transporter (Typ 2). And the Karmann Ghia. The internal model code “Typ14” was a dead giveaway that the Karmann Ghia was nothing else than a Bug with a sleeker body.

Slowly, the folks in Wolfsburg became convinced that you can’t live on a Bug alone. So they set out to create a new one. Kind of new. At the time, everybody at Volkswagen lived and worked according to a set dogma, and any deviation was heresy. The engine had to be air-cooled. Air-cooled good, water-cooled bad. The engine had to be in the back. Back good, front bad. Cars had to have roundish shapes. Round good, corners bad.

And so, the VW 1500 was born, a car that celebrates its 50th birthday this year, in the Volkswagen Museum in Wolfsburg. The VW 1500 (internally called “Typ 3”) was a classic 3box sedan, with a twist. The engine was a bigger bore, 1.5 liter engine from the Bug, but it was a bug engine that was squashed:

Known as “Flachmotor”, the engine was flattened, only 40 cm (16 inches) high. This way, the VW 1500 could have two trunks. One in the front, one in the back. The engine was below the rear trunk. To get to it, you had to remove all your trunk junk in the rear, and open a lid.

The VW 1500 received something unheard of. A station wagon model. It was called “Variant”, a moniker that graces Volkswagen wagons to this day. The initial VW 1500 Variant was targeted at tradesmen, but soon it became the darling of families who used it to vacation at Lake Garda or in Rimini – steeled by the knowledge that their air-cooled VW 1500 won’t boil over when crossing the Brenner Pass.

A hopped-up Typ 3, the 1500 S, had dual carburetors and breathtaking 54 hp. It was succeeded by a 1.6 liter model that didn’t offer more horses. The 1.6 liter engine followed the VW 1600 into its grave in 1973.

In 1965, the VW 1600 received its first hatchback, called a “Fliessheck” in VW-speak. It would set the scene for many hatchbacks at Volkswagen. For a long time, a real Volkswagen was either a “Fliessheck” hatchback or a “Steilheck” Variant. The 3 box sedan was considered a new act of heresy for a long time

Right from the start, there was a Typ 3 with a body by Karmann, called the “Typ 34”, analogous to the  Typ 1 / Typ 14. In public, it was called Karmann Ghia, just like the smaller, Bug-based one. The practical Germans simply called them “large Karmann” and “small Karmann”.

There nearly was another one, the large Karmann Ghia convertible. Several prototypes were built, one is still at the Volkswagen Museum in Wolfsburg, one at Karmann in Osnabrück. According to lore, the catalogues for the Typ 34 ragtop were already printed when then decision came from above that a convertible Bug and a Typ 14 ragtop were enough of fresh air.

In 1973, the history of the Typ 3 ended. It was replaced by a heresy, the Passat: Water-cooled, engine in the front, boxy shape. It was the beginning of a successful series of heresies, the Golf, the Scirocco, the Polo. They saved Volkswagen from certain obliteration and laid the groundwork to Volkswagen’s success.

As someone who wrote, or directed the writing, of all Volkswagen catalogues from the Passat on out, I was naturally highly interested in the unprinted catalogue for the ragtop that never was. Alas, nobody can find it at Volkswagen.

Maybe it’s just a good story. That became part of Volkswagen history, just like the Typ 3.

pe. It was the beginning of a successful series of heresies, the Golf, the Scirocco, the Polo. They saved Volkswagen from certain obliteration and laid the groundwork to Volkswagen’s success.

As someone who wrote, or directed the writing, of all Volkswagen catalogues from the Passat on out, I was naturally highly interested in the unprinted catalogue for the ragtop that never was. Alas, nobody can find it at Volkswagen.

Maybe it’s just a good story. That became part of Volkswagen history, just like the Typ 3.

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