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The VW type 3, new but familiar

VW type 3
ER Classics Desktop 2022

The Volkswagen Type 3 (sold as Volkswagen 1500 and later Volkswagen 1600) was Volkswagen's dream successor to the Beetle and offered more space and luxury than that legendary, but already dated, Beetle.

A VW TL 'Fastback'? That was my first car. I bought it from the garage where my father's Simca 1501 Break was being serviced. The dark green VW would be fine technically. As a conscript, I paid 300 guilders for it. The car was crispy around the headlight rings, wheel rims and at the A columns. Everywhere. actually. I refined that brittleness nicely solid under the motto: “First old newspapers, then fiberglass mat, then polyester, putty and sanding, sanding and sanding and brushes. At the time I was proud of the result. Now I wouldn't be that anymore. I think. And a good driving TL for 150 euros? It won't be him anymore either.


The VW type 3, new but familiar

In terms of technology, this series was still Beetle based, but characteristic differences were the torsion bars that swept over the full car width and the subframe that carried the drive. The Type 3 was built from 1961 to 1973. The Fastback was presented for 1965. This new, large VW was for sale as a sedan, as a fastback and as an estate car. The cars were supplied with 1.500 and 1.600 cc engines. And those engines were naturally air-cooled four-cylinder boxers.

Only now popular again

It took quite a long time for classic enthusiasts to get their hands together for this series of Volkswagen cars sold millions of times. Now that interest is growing, it is noticeable how few Type 3s have remained. The conservative buyers bought the 'Pontons', the sedans. The practical thinkers went for the Variant (called 'squareback' in the US). That station car version was the topper with such an 43, 5% share of sales. It was also delivered behind the driver without side windows. Porsche dreamers and dynamic bon vivants bought Fastbacks.

Tightly budgeted

The 1500 and 1600 were, just like Beetles, driven by cost and experience considerations by a rear-mounted air-cooled four-cylinder boxer engine with 1.493 cc and 1.584 cc, which supplied 45 and 54 hp in carburetor versions respectively. As an injector, he delivered the same power. But did he need less gas for it. From 1967 there was a choice between a manual four-speed or automatic 3 gearbox

The pancake block

Due to the Beetle concept - including the wheelbase - to maintain, Volkswagen with this model with limited development costs a large mid-range in the program, where the Ponton and the TL version both under the front cover and under the tailgate offered luggage space. The luggage spaces were not too high, but still ... The reborn boxers had their fan on the crankshaft. Therefore, the overall height of the engines was very low (approx. 48 cm). The nickname 'pancake block, pancake engine or trunk was soon born after that. By the way, the technicians came up with a well-functioning cooling system for such a 'packed' engine. In terms of cooling, the T3 with its flat oil cooler avoided a notorious Keverk ailment: the third cylinder lost its tendency to overheat.

Other than the beetle


Such a Type 3 drives very differently from a Beetle. The other torsion bar suspension and the angled rear wishbones make the ride in these Volkswagens much smoother. In addition, the VW feels 'big & mature'. For a modern 'full-sized' Dutchman, a Beetle is often a somewhat tight housing. This Fastback really feels like an 'automobile. And you look out over a nice long nose. That is always nice. In September 1968 the T3 got this longer nose. It looks good on him. And that the abbreviation TL (Touren Limousine) became popularly called “Traurige Lösung” or “Traurige Line”. Well, just look at the most recent Opel advertisement: “We Germans have no humor…”. They say so themselves.

4 Comments

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  1. This model was also my 1st car, silver colored!
    There were also some kind of silver threads in the upholstery. I had a lot of fun with it and it was a pleasant car. I'm talking about 1979! Unfortunately everyone doesn't remember what time I arrived or bought it

  2. Consider the following: the beetle sucks the cooling air out of the engine compartment and it is already preheated /
    In type III (and IV), the cooling air is supplied through a rubber sleeve that takes the air directly from the outside - without sucking preheated air from the engine compartment - and that is already an improvement. In addition, the oil cooler of the type III is no longer in the way at cylinder 3, so that it overheats less quickly.

  3. I do not understand that story about cooling: that flat oil cooler cannot be the only reason for the low height: look at the beetles and also Porsches with those giant fans and air conductors and compare that with those few cooling inlet slots on the sides of the 411 or 15001600 cc, and you see how compact and encapsulated the engines look, then you still wonder how those engines didn't get overheated.

    • I do not understand that story about cooling: that flat oil cooler cannot be the only reason for the low height: look at the beetles and also Porsches with those giant fans and air conductors and compare that with those few cooling inlet slots on the sides of the 411 or 15001600 cc, and you see how compact and encapsulated the engines look, then you still wonder how those engines didn't get overheated.

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