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Tuesday, 20 April, 2004

The classic “air-cooled” VWs are found with four basic chassis. These are “Types” I (one) through IV (four). VW built only one vehicle from it’s establishment as a commercial enterprise in 1946 until 1950 with the introduction of the “Type II” or Transporter (unofficially Microbus or Pickup in North America). Upon the advent of Type II, the original vehicle was thereafter referred as “Type I”, and the naming convention proceeded through the air-cooled line until 1974 when the “waterboxers” debuted. The following is not intended to be illustrative, but not exhaustive. Types I, II, and IV chassis were sold to other manufacturers for the production of vehicles, usually sport types and especially in Brazil. These cars are not rightfully considered, and are usually not registered, as VWs. “Kit cars” are a separate but related phenomenon which will not be covered here. Each of these vehicles was produced and marketed through the auspices of Volkswagen A.G.

Type I, the original and still legendary
Type 1, 111, 112, 116 (last two digits are displacement cc/1000) Volkswagen, 1100 or 1200, Beetle, KDF-wagen, Kupla, Coccinelle, Kaefer, Brezelfenster. Bogár, Vocho, Kever, Volks-fiets, Escarabajo, Carocha, Pulguita. Placzek, Bubbla, Folkvagn, Sedan, et al 1946-2003 prototype, 1932-1974, Última Edición 2003. Manufactured in West Germany (1946-1977), South Africa(1950-198?), Australia, U.K. (both 1952-197?)(tkd), Brazil (196?-199?) and Mexico (1978-2003), licensed to Czechoslovakia (Tatra).
Type 113 Super Beetle 1969-1972 “Super” became std in 1973. Features McPherson Struts, lower first and second gear and body modifications.
Type 82/166 Kübelwagen, Schwimmwagen 1938-1948 info, military “jeep”. Production halted in 1944 due to heavy bombing damage to plant. Was first vehicle assembled under U.K. management.
Type 181/182 Thing, Safari, Trekker, Pescaccia, Mehrzweckwagen 1969-1980 based on the 82, but primarily for civilian purposes, Manufactured in W. Germany (1968-1972), Mexico (1973-1980) and Indonesia (197?-1980), photo
Type 141, 143 for Cabriolet Karmann Ghia 1956-1975 Designed by Ghia of Italy 1950-53, body by Karmann Coach. photo
Type 15 Cabriolet, Convertible 1953-1979 KG and Cab are essentially the “Beetle” with a different body. 1980 started production of the Golf-based Cabriolet. 49-53 Cabs “Hebmüller” were poorly designed, overpriced and sold poorly.
Type II

T1, Type 21 for bus and pickups, 22 for passenger, 23 for camper Kombi, Rugbrød, Microbus, Junakeula, Samba, Bulli. Papuga, Transporter 1949-1967 VW’s second-ever model. Built in W. Germany and Brazil
T2, Type 21 for bus and pickups, 22 for passenger, 23 for camper add: Hector, Klaippari, Bussie, Hipisowka 1968-1979 still produced in Brazil for Latin America, Eurovan is also sold. formerly built in S. Africa, Mexico and W. Germany
T3, Type 24 all variants Vanagon 1980-1983 The last of the air-cooled VWs in the U.S. The almost identical-looking 84-89 Vanagons were waterboxers which must have bothered the hell out of the service dept.

Type III see also, and related fun toy

Type 31 Fastback, TL 1966-1973 photo
Type 36 Squareback, Variant, Station-wagen 1962-1973 photo Can you find the engine? Dustin Hoffman couldn’t either.
Type 33 Notchback, Berline, Sedan, 1500 or 1600 1961-1973 photo, this is the only photo distributed in a stark press release about VW’s rumored new car (1960)
Type 335, 345 Cabriolet or KG Cab 1960-1970 or thereabout Cabriolet based on 31 or 34, never proceeded beyond prototype.
Unknown Variant Delivery mid-60′s Known in Australia and may be in Europe, like a tall 36 but no rear seats or windows.
Type 34 Karmann Ghia 1961-1969 photo. info.
The below vehicles are Types 1 and 3 mutants. I classify them as 3s because the Type 3 fans are interested in them most. Designed and built in Brazil for regional consumption with some exports to Africa, Philippines, the Middle East and other places where more rugged cars are required. For a time these were built in Puebla.
Type 145 sic Karmann Ghia TC 1970-1975 for Latin America. photo. back Yep, it’s the same car underneath.
N/A Berline 1970-1974 for Latin America photo
N/A Brasilia Variant 1970-1982 for Latin America, photo. Two are known to exist in the U.S.
N/A Brasilia Fastback 1970-1982 for Latin America. Mechanically similar, the LA-product are stylistically distinct from any other AC VW. photo.
N/A SP-2 1972-1976 VW’s first true sports car, almost no exports from Brazil. back
Type IV

VW’s most colossal failure before building that Rabbit plant in Pennsylvania. From type4.org:

The Type 4 began its life as Nordhoff’s attempt to penetrate the luxury-car market and expand VW’s image to include upscale and highly developed products. It was to follow the typical VW layout with a rear air-cooled engine and rear-wheel drive, but on a far grander scale than previously done.

The new product, however, suffered from negative reviews, if not disdain. At the time the Type 4 was introduced the world was waiting for rumors about front wheel-drive and water-cooled cars from VW to come true. As Car and Driver in its April 1969 Preview Test of the VW 411L writes:

“That ‘sure thing’ rumor probably has been going around since 1938 when the first VWs were produced, and we hoped that with the introduction of the VW 411 it would have died a natural -and unlamented- death. Instead, VW has made sure that the rumor will be perpetuated by introducing an ‘all new’ car that is more evolutionary than revolutionary. Wolfsburg seems to have decided that all it has to do is build a bigger Beetle and the world will continue to beat a path to its door – we’re wondering if that path might not be detouring to the Far East.”

Even the German press, usually more loyal to Volkswagen’s offerings, did not hide their disappointment. Auto, Motor und Sport, one of the leading automobile magazines, tested the 411L in their February ’69-issue against five competitors (Fiat 125, Renault 16, Audi 80L, Ford 17M and Opel Rekord 1700L). The Volkswagen ended dead last, even though it was the most expensive in the group. The authors complained that instead of looking at their competition VW clung to their own traditions and became blind for what was going on in the automotive world.

History proved the detractors right. Fueled by the disappointment over the technology, design and steep price of the “all new” car sales never really took off. In Europe the VW 411 was introduced in August 1968 as a ’69 model. Barely a year later it received an update, along with the introduction of the VW 411 wagon, in the hope of making the design more agreeable, something unheard of from Wolfsburg before. This redesigned 411 was introduced in the US in 1971. Still, the cars would not move out of dealer showrooms. Another attempt at “saving” the Type 4 was made in 1972, it received a major face lift and a new name – VW 412. Nothing could stop the inevitable, though, and production was finally halted in July 1974 after one of the shortest production runs VW ever had on any model it produced.

411 411 1969-1972 Built in Brazil and W. Germany
412 412 1973-1974 Built in Brazil and W. Germany
Trivia and common misconceptions about Volkswagen A.G., or VAG as it is now known.

  • The worlds largest industrial complex, and the world’s largest industrial complex under one roof is the Volkswagenwerk in Wolfsburg, Germany. Formerly Wolfsburg, West Germany and before that KDFstadt, Germany and before that the undeveloped, unincorporated estate of Baron Von Wolfsburg. Das Werk is much larger than Wolfsburg, itself. The Wolfsburg Crest is the product of an advertising agency.
  • In July 1945, a group of British officers happened upon the plant which was not fully completed during war time and had suffered heavy bombing. The management were all either dead or missing, and a group (sources differ) of between a dozen and fifty men were futilely attempting to fix whatever they could. This lead to a massive U.K.-led operation to restore the plant, the town and establish some kind of industry in the region. They had enough surviving parts to supply the Allies with vehicles, and that’s how it all started. Baron Wolfsburg and his heirs were killed in the bombing of Berlin.
  • Firmly held beliefs that the modern VAG was somehow connected in any way with the Third Reich are simply not true. The modern VAG, shares only the majority of the building of the original Volkswagenwerk and established itself by bringing to life a vehicle designed and developed during that era. It is within the realm of possibility that some, perhaps most, of the original employees who rebuilt and established the plant in 1945 were connected with the national government or served in the military. This is the only plausible connection which could be made. Heinz Nordoff sat out the war, assisting his employer, GM, in Detroit.
  • The name of the company comes from the name given to the plant, which was not inappropriate even after the war. The vehicle was supposed to be marketed after the war as the KDF-wagen. “strength through joy”-car.
  • A conspicuous space exists between the V and the W in their logo. I think you already know what was once in that space.
  • Porsche, the sports car company, is no longer directly connected with VAG. Although they use VW-built components and the production is on a site adjacent to the Werk. This company is not named after the designer of the KDFwagen, but rather his son, also a vehicle designer, who happened to find employment with VW in the fifties. It was his company. He was also Ferdinand Porsche.
  • The last VW-built Porsche was the 914 from the 80′s. In fact, the 914 was a VW Type 3 that happened to be sold through Porsche dealers. It was an amazing success, and an amazing scam.
  • The Auto Union 1000 is not a badge-engineered Beetle. It is an amazingly similar vehicle actually built by Mercedes who had surplus capacity until the 60′s. The actual Auto Union’s plants were almost all in “the Russian zone”. VW was forced to acquire Auto Union in 1964 and the brands were discontinued in 1966.
  • Audi was originally one of the Auto Union brands. The Four Rings are the original AU logo.
  • Auto Union built the most sophisticated 2-cycle engines in the world at that time. VW put them to rest.
  • This is the product of another company (NSU) which inadvertently became the first water-cooled VW. Their products formed the basis of Audi in the 70′s.

This kind of thing keeps me from thinking about what I should be thinking about.

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