Volkswagen Type 3: Wikis


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Volkswagen 1500 (Notchback shown)
Volkswagen 1500 (Notchback)
Manufacturer Volkswagen
Production 1961 – 1973
2,542,382 built [1]
Assembly Wolfsburg, Germany later Emden Germany
São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil
Successor Volkswagen Passat
Class Compact car
Body style(s) 2-door coupe
2-door station wagon
3-door hatchback
Layout RR layout
Engine(s) 1.5 or 1.6L H4
Transmission(s) 4-speed manual
3-speed automatic
Wheelbase 2,400 mm (94.5 in)
Length 4,225 mm (166.3 in)
Width 1,605 mm (63.2 in)
Height 1,475 mm (58.1 in)
Curb weight from 880 kilograms (1,940 lb)
Fuel capacity 40 L (10.6 US gal; 8.8 imp gal)[2]
Volkswagen 1600 (Fastback)
Volkswagen 1600 (Fastback)
Manufacturer Volkswagen
Volkswagen 1600 Variant ("Squareback")
Volkswagen 1600 Variant ("Squareback")
Manufacturer Volkswagen

The Volkswagen Type 3, also referred to as the Volkswagen 1500 and later the Volkswagen 1600, was a range of small cars from German manufacturer Volkswagen (VW). Initially, VW used the moniker VW 1500 rather than Volkswagen to avoid confusion with its venerable Volkswagen (1200cc) sedan.

The range was originally launched in August 1961 in two varieties: the Notchback with a notchback saloon body, and the Karmann Ghia 1500 (popularly known as the Type 34 Karmann Ghia) with a coupé body. The first Variant (known as the Squareback in the USA) with an estate body followed in 1962 (VW still continues to name all its station wagon model variations Variant). The Fastback, a fastback coupé [TL] version, arrived in August 1965. A convertible was announced with the original models, but did not enter production.

The Type 3 was introduced to diversify Volkswagen's product range beyond the Type 1 (Beetle), the Karmann Ghia, and the Type 2 (Bus). The Type 3 was designed to allow Volkswagen to make a more sophisticated car while maintaining much of the engineering from the Type 1. Though available to much of the world, the Type 3 line was not exported to the United States through Volkswagen of America until the 1966 model year, when the Squareback and Fastback were added to their line-up.

The most significant face-lift, visually, took place in 1970 when the car underwent what was reported at the time as an 115 mm (4.5 in) nose-lengthening which added 1½ cubic feet to the luggage capacity.[2]

Production ended in 1973 at the Wolfsburg plant, with production moving to VW's new Emden plant, which was later retooled in 1973 to build the Passat (B1, also known as Dasher). The Wolfsburg plant was retooled to build the Golf.


Engine and drivetrain

The Type 3 was initially equipped with a 1.5 L (1493 cc) engine based on the air-cooled flat-4 found in the Type 1. While the long block remained the same as the Type 1, the engine cooling was drastically changed to allow for a much lower engine profile. This resulted in increased area for cargo stowage with the so-called "Pancake" or "Suitcase" engine. This engine's displacement would later increase to 1.6 L (1584 cc).

August 1961 Originally a single side draft carburetter the car designated as VW1500. Later August 1963 Single VW1500N or dual-carburetted VW1500S vesions were available , (1500 N, 45 PS (33 kW; 44 hp) or 1500S, 54 PS (40 kW; 53 hp) extra power achieved for the 'S' model provided by High compression pistons and the dual carb) the Type 3 engine got a larger displacement (1.6 L) for 1966 and modified for 1968 to include electronic Bosch fuel injection as an option, making it the first mass production consumer cars with such a feature (another application soon after was the Type 4 VW 411). Also introduced for 1968 was a fully automatic transmission.

One notable advance from the Type 1 to the Type 3 was the front suspension — although similar to the Type 1, it was the first Volkswagen system to incorporate transverse torsion bars, as opposed to the Type 1's torsion leaves. The Type 3's torsion bars are cross-mounted in the lower tube, so that each individual torsion bar spans the full width of the car, the upper tube containing an anti-roll bar which connects both upper trailing links to each other. The Type 3 often caused amusement to the uninitiated because its engine was hidden away under the rear trunk space in all three variations: the Notchback, Squareback and Fastback.

The Type 3 was also the world's first volume produced car to feature electronic fuel injection pioneered by Bosch. This was offered as the VW 1600E version (E meaning "Einspritzung" in German or injection). A similar Bosch injection system was availabel for the Volvo P1800

The Type 3 also featured wall-to-wall carpeting, and a larger amount of storage space (front and rear storage - the motor was located under a panel in the rear boot, allowing for more luggage space than the Type 1 "Beetle") and was available with air-con in the US

Production figures

German production[1]:

  • Type 31 1500/1600 Notchback/Fastback: 1,339,124
  • Type 31 1500/1600 Variant: 1,202,935
  • Type 351 1500/1600 Convertible (prototypes): 12
  • 1500/1600 chassis and works prototypes: 311

Brazilian production [3]:

  • Notchback: 24,475
  • Fastback: 109,515
  • Variant: 256,760
  • Variant II: 41,002

Related models


Type 34 Karmann Ghia

Also known as the Große Ghia (with groß being German for "large"), the Type 34 Karmann Ghia was a larger, more squared development of the Karmann Ghia, and was based on the Type 3 platform.

Brazilian Type 3 (TL / Variant / Variant II)

Brazilian Volkswagen Variant II

The three box Type 3 was launched in Brazil in 1968 with unique styling (similar to the Brasilia) and four doors and was met with little success, being nicknamed Zé do Caixão (after Coffin Joe, a popular Brazilian movie character) for its boxy shape.

A fastback/hatchback version, the Volkswagen TL, fared somewhat better, being produced from 1970 to 1976, originally as a 2-door and later as a 4-door version.

As in Germany, the original Karmann Ghia was replaced by a Type 3-based model called Karmann Ghia TC (Touring Coupé), but with a distinct look from the German Karmann Ghia Type 34.

Neither enjoyed as much success as its estate-bodied sibling, the Variant. The 3-door Variant was produced from 1969 to 1977 and then followed by an updated successor with squarer body, the Variant II which was produced from 1977 to 1980.

Unrelated Argentinian Volkswagen 1500

Argentinian Volkswagen 1500

In 1980 Volkswagen bought the Argentinian Chrysler Ferve Argentina SAIC. With the takeover came a new name, Volkswagen Argentina SA, and the company inherited some Dodge / Chrysler vehicles. One of them was the Dodge 1500 (also the Dodge 1800) which the newly taken-over company re-badged as Volkswagen 1500 for the Argentinian market. The estate was known as the Volkswagen 1500 Rural. Both variants continued to be sold until 1988.

The car, which was based on Chrysler Avenger, had also been sold in Brazil, where it was known as the Dodge Polara — this version ceased in 1981, shortly after Volkswagen's purchase of the tooling in Argentina. Note also that this is the car which was available earlier in the 1970s in North America as the Plymouth Cricket.

These cars have no parts related to any other vehicles in the Volkswagen range, including the Volkswagen Type 3 known by the same Volkswagen 1500 name.


The placement of the engine under the rear trunk of the Type 3 was highlighted in a famous American television commercial for Volkswagen in the 1960s that shows a very young Dustin Hoffman showing the interior of the Fastback model and explaining the car's technical features. After showing the trunk up front, he opens the rear hood to reveal another trunk. Hoffman, looking befuddled as to the location of the engine, walks away, and the commercial closes with a title reading, "Your VW dealer will show you where the motor is."


  1. ^ a b Oswald, Werner (2003). Deutsche Autos 1945-1990, Band 3. Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. pp. 53. ISBN 3-613-02116-1. 
  2. ^ a b Daily Express Motor Show Review 1969 on 1970 Cars (London: Daily Express Newspaper): Page 25 (Honda 1300). October 1969. 
  3. ^ VW

External links


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