Rare Rides: A Rear-engined Volkswagen 412 Wagon From 1973

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides a rear engined volkswagen 412 wagon from 1973

Air-cooled engine at the back, two upright, circular headlamps at the front, and classic gold metallic paint.

It’s not a vintage Porsche 911, but it is a cousin — a Volkswagen 412 from 1973.

Volkswagen’s Type 4 was a brand new type of car for the company. It was the first time VW offered any family car with four doors. It also introduced a more modern type of build to Volkswagen customers, as it was of true unibody construction. Other advancements included coil springs, a manual transmission with a hydraulic clutch, and a suspension featuring MacPherson struts up front and trailing wishbones at the back.

This was no basic compact — all Type 4 cars had no-charge metallic paint, radial tires, and undercoating. Inside was full carpeting, a clock, rear window defrost, and an auxiliary heating system (via a gas-operated unit with its own spark plug).

The Type 4 hit dealers in 1968, labeled on the outside as the 411. Considered a midsize family car at that time, two- and four-door sedans were available, as well as a three-door wagon. Though successful elsewhere, the 411 was not imported to North America until 1971, near the end of its life.

1972 saw the introduction of a second-generation Type 4, the 412. The new version had revised headlamps on a new front end, and that was the extent of exterior changes. At the rear, engine changes in 1974 upped the displacement from 1679cc to 1795cc, with both engines being of flat-four layout. Transmission options included a four-speed manual or the three-speed automatic in today’s golden example.

As 1974 drew to a close, Volkswagen had a newer, water-cooled sedan ready as the Type 4’s replacement. Americans called it Dasher, and the rest of the world knew it as Passat. A successful global model, Volkswagen shifted over 367,000 Type 4s over six model years. Of those, about 117,000 were sold in the United States. But that was a very long time ago.

Today’s Rare Ride is located near Madison, Wisconsin, which is south of the Canadian province of Ontario. It needs a few odds and ends, especially where the interior is concerned, but comes with a couple boxes of spare parts.

It’s yours for $6,900.

[Images: seller]

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  • Pwrwrench Pwrwrench on Aug 24, 2018

    Yes, the brakes were essentially the same as the Type III. With the extra weight of the 411 they wore out rapidly. That was one of the changes on the 412. The rotors got thicker and the pads thicker and bigger. Since the front suspension was very similar to the Super Beetle installing the disc brakes on the Beetle was a popular, if expensive idea. People also retro-fitted the larger 412 brakes onto disc brake Ghia and Type IIIs.

  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Aug 24, 2018

    Around this time our neighbor across the street had a 411 wagon (along with a '73 Chevy C-20 pickup, that they used with a slide-in camper). The thing I remember most about their 411 was the lopey idle, courtesy of the Bosch D-Jet fuel injection and its "electronic brain" (a phrase used in a Hot Rod magazine article at the time).

  • Secret Hi5 Cream of mushroom interior looks good. Impractical for families and denim jeans wearers.
  • Matt Posky Hot.
  • Lou_BC Murilee is basically correct on the trim levels. People tend to refer to Ford's full-sized cars as "Galaxie 500" or "Galaxie's" even though that's just the mid level trim. I was never a fan of the '69 snout or any of the subsequent models. The vacuum controlled headlight covers typically failed. It was a heavy clunky system also found on the Mercury's like the Cougar. The XL's and LTD's could be purchased with factory bucket seats and a center console with a large shifter, similar to the type of throttle on an airplane. The late 60's era Ford cars had coil springs in the rear which rode nice. The shape of the fender wells did not lend themselves to fitting larger tires. The frame layout carried on to become the underpinnings of the Panther platform. I noticed that this car came with disc brakes in the front. There was a time when disc's were an upgrade option from drum brakes. Ford's engines of similar displacement are often assumed as being from the same engine families. In '69 the 429 was the biggest engine which was in the same family as the 460 (385 series). It was a true big block. In 1968 and earlier, the 428, 427, 390's typically found in these cars were FE block engines. The 427 side oiler has always been the most desired option.
  • Drew8MR Minivans are expensive new if you are just buying them for utility. Used minivans are often superfund sites in back compared to the typical barely used backseats in a lot of other vehicles and you aren't going to get a deal just because everything is filthy, broken and covered in spilled food and drink.
  • Arthur Dailey This is still the only 'car' show that our entire family enjoys. This is not Willie Mays with the Mets style of decline. More like Gretzky with the Blues. It may not be their 'best' work but when it works the magic is still there.