Yes, we have even more bits of video from that air-cooled Volkswagen gathering I joined this summer, so get ready for more radiator-free goodness. Today I want to improve the quality of your life ever so slightly by taking you with me on this quick walk-around of a Volkswagen that’s quite uncommon in America: The Type 3 Notchback.
The Volkswagen Type 3 series was designed to be VW’s answer to customers who wanted more than the Beetle offered—more power, more space, more luxury, more car. To accomplish this while retaining the Beetle’s fundamental technological basis, Volkswagen was very clever.
They moved the cooling fan from above the horizontal cylinders of the engine to the end of the crankshaft, making a seriously compact engine only 18 inches tall. This they crammed under the floor at the rear, allowing for a trunk over the engine as well as VW’s traditional front trunk. Bingo, more space.
The Type 3s had a more conventional (for the era) looking body, uprated interior fittings and equipment compared to the Beetle, and a more powerful 1500cc (later 1600) dual-carb (later with electronic fuel-injection, a first for a production car) engine. VW had their up-market car.
The VW 1500, as it was originally called, was initially a smallish two-door sedan and a station wagon. The wagon came to America as the Squareback, and we later got the sloping-rear Fastback two-door sedan, but for some reason, Volkswagen never imported the original three-box sedan, which was known as the Notchback.
I’m not sure why we never got the notchback, though some say it’s because VW was having production constraints prior to opening up their factory in Emden, Germany. You’d think in the early ‘60s its pleasingly dowdy, almost British looks would have fit in very well on the market, and perhaps even would have proven to be a good competitor to the then number-two imported car in America, the Renault Dauphine.
Some Notches did get into America via gray market imports, and they were always attention-grabbers for VW geeks.
This (I think) 1973 example is, of course, no exception, and I was thrilled at the chance to really poke around in it, and note the fun details—the odd parking lamps, the engine tucked in its little hatch under the rear trunk floor, the overall satisfying proportions that are best appreciated in person.
I like the Type 3 because they satisfy my strange space-utilization fetishes. If you think it’s strange to be excited by the existence of an extra trunk, as I’m sure many do, please allow me to show you the face of this passer-by looking on at about 1:30 in the video.
That’s the face of a man clearly mind-blown by the existence of an engine hiding under the floor of a trunk.
See? It’s not just me.