Volkswagen Type 3

This article is about the Volkswagen Type 3 car. For the van/bus known as Volkswagen T3, see Volkswagen Type 2 (T3).
Volkswagen Type 3
Manufacturer Volkswagen
Also called Volkswagen 1500
Volkswagen 1600
Production 19611973
2,542,382 built [1]
Assembly Wolfsburg, Germany later Emden, Germany
São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil (VW Brasil)
Clayton, Australia [2]
Body and chassis
Class Family car
Body style 2-door notchback sedan
2-door fastback sedan
2-door station wagon
2-door sedan delivery (panel van)
4-door notchback and fastback sedans made only in Brazil
Layout RR layout
Engine 1.5 or 1.6L H4
Transmission 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 kg (1,940 lb)
Successor Volkswagen Passat/Dasher

The Volkswagen Type 3 is a compact car manufactured and marketed by Volkswagen from 1961 to 1973. Introduced at the 1961 Frankfurt Motor Show, Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (IAA), the Type 3 was marketed as the Volkswagen 1500 and later the Volkswagen 1600, in three body styles: two-door Notchback, Fastback and station wagon, the latter marketed as the 'Variant' in most markets, and 'Squareback' in the United States.

The Type 3 diversified Volkswagen's product range beyond the existing models – the Type 1 (Beetle), Type 14 Karmann Ghia, Type 2 (Bus) – while retaining their engineering principles, notably the air-cooled engine, all round torsion bar suspension, and the rear-engine, rear-wheel drive layout.


The Type 3 followed the Type 1, utilizing a low-profile version of Volkswagen's rear-engined, 4-cylinder air-cooled engine, as well as body-on-chassis construction while featuring ponton styling in contrast to the Type 1's articulated fender and running board. VW finalized the design by 1959 with prototypes ready for testing by 1960. Secrecy was such that even at the 1960 Geneva Auto Show, VW denied they were readying a new design. In 1961 VW announced the new line as the "VW 1500".

Volkswagen 1500 (Notchback)
Volkswagen 1600 Variant ("Squareback")
1970 Volkswagen 1600 TL (Fastback)

Production began in August 1961, a month before launch, of the Volkswagen 1500 Notchback, encompassing three-box styling in a notchback saloon body.[3] Production of the Karmann Ghia 1500 (also known as the Type 34 Karmann Ghia) with a coupé body commenced in November 1961 and deliveries started in January 1962.[3] The estate bodied Variant (marketed as the Squareback in the USA) followed, with the first cars produced in February 1962.[3] Two convertibles based on the 1500 Notchback were also announced with the original models, but did not enter production.[4]

The Fastback, or TL version, a fastback coupé, arrived in August 1965, at the same time the 1600 engine was introduced. Volkswagen's intention was that this model should replace the Notchback, which is what happened in the UK market, but in other markets, including the German domestic market, the number of customers preferring the older Notchback shaped car was higher than foreseen, and in the end both Notchback and Fastback body shapes remained in production until July 1973.[5]

Volkswagen of America began importing the Type 3 in 1966 in the "Squareback" ('Variant' badges were not used in the US market) and "Fastback" but not the Notchback configurations. The Type 3 was competing in the market with the Chevrolet Corvair that had been previously introduced in the United States in 1960, which incorporated a 6-cylinder rear-mounted air-cooled engine in notchback and station wagon body style, as well as a compact van derived from the platform.

In 1968, the Type 3 'E' (Einspritzung) became the first German automobile in series production with electronic fuel injection (Bosch D-Jetronic) as standard equipment. The larger Volkswagen Type 4 was introduced in 1969 which had a similar mechanical layout with further engineering refinements.

For the 1968 model year, 1969 in the USA, a three-speed fully automatic transaxle became available, noted for extremely low internal friction. With the automatic came completely independent rear suspension (IRS), replacing the swing axle set-up. For 1969, the IRS rear axle was standard with both automatic and manual transmissions.

1973 VW Squareback (facelift model, USA)

The model received a facelift in 1970, when a 115 mm (4.5 in) nose-lengthening added 1.5 cu ft (42 L) to the luggage capacity.[6]

Volkswagen offered the Type 3 in a lower trim level in Europe, marketed as the 1600A trim level. In the US, and for 1973 only, Volkswagen offered two trim levels of the Type 3 Fastback in the USA, marketed as the Type 3 Sedan and Type 3 Basic Compact. The Basic Compact featured reduced content, including limited color and upholstery availability and without belt line chrome, clock, electric rear window defogger  and with painted frames around the vent windows, a black cardboard front trunk liner over the gas tank without a liner on the sides of the trunk or over the firewall, plain vinyl door panels without door pockets and rubber mats in lieu of interior carpet.

While the Type 3 was a more modern design, it never reached the same level of popularity as the Beetle. As Volkswagen started to produce front-wheel-drive water-cooled designs, 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 first generation Passat (marketed variously, also as the "Dasher"). The Wolfsburg plant was retooled to build the Golf, which eventually replaced the Type 1 as Volkswagen's best selling sedan.

Engine and drivetrain

The Type 3 was initially equipped with a 1.5 L (1493 cc) engine based on the air-cooled 1192 cc flat-4 found in the Type 1, but given a 69 mm stroke it became the basis for the 1300 cc and 1600 cc engines that followed in the later Beetle (Type 1) and Volkswagen Type 2 T1 and T2. While the long block remained the same as the Type 1, the engine cooling was redesigned by putting the fan on the end of the crankshaft instead of on the generator. This reduced the height of the engine profile, allowed greater cargo volume, and earned the nicknames of "Pancake" or "Suitcase" engine. The engine's displacement would eventually increase to 1.6 L (1584 cc).

It used a similar transmission to the Beetle but with higher ratios (4.125 R&P v 4.375 R&P) and longer axles. Unlike the Beetle (Type 1), the Type 3 engine and transmission unit was mounted into a subframe (which contained the complete rear suspension), in turn rubber-mounted to the floorpan and body, thereby isolating vibration and road noise from the passenger space.

The original Volkswagen 1500 used a single side-draught 32 mm Solex PHN carburetor. In August 1963 VW introduced single- and twin-carburetor versions, respectively the Volkswagen 1500 'N' (Normal), rated at 45 PS (33 kW; 44 hp), and the 1500 'S' (Super), 54 PS (40 kW; 53 hp) which had high-compression (8.5:1) domed 83 mm pistons and twin downdraught 32 mm Solex PDSIT carburetors for more power.

The Type 3 engine received a larger displacement (1.6 L) for 1966 (August '65) and in 1968 became the world's first volume production car to feature electronic fuel injection  pioneered by Bosch. The Bosch D-Jetronic system was offered on the Volkswagen 1600 TE & LE version (E designating "Einspritzung" or "injection" in German). A similar Bosch injection system was used in the later Type 4 VW 411, some models of the Porsche 914, Opel Admiral, Diplomat and Commodore, and available for the Volvo P1800. Also introduced for 1968 was a fully automatic transmission.

A 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 front suspension to incorporate transverse round 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 that connects the upper trailing links to each other. In 1968 the rear suspension was upgraded to double jointed CV joint semi trailing arm suspension (sometimes called IRS by VW enthusiasts to differentiate it from the previous swing-axle type), a design feature that previously appeared on the VW Type 2 in 1967.

Like the Type 1, The Type 3 offered both front and rear luggage areas, with greater volume and easier rear cargo accessibility via a rear-opening boot (trunk) lid. In all four variants (Karmann Ghia, Notchback, Squareback and Fastback), the engine was located under a panel in the rear trunk. The Type 3 also featured wall-to-wall carpeting, and was available with air conditioning in the US.

The original Type 3 with 5-stud wheels (5 x 205 mm PCD) used twin leading shoe drum brakes at the front. In August '65 (the '66 model year) these were replaced by disc brakes, coinciding with the introduction of the Fastback and 1600 engine (Australian built models retained drum front brakes until August 1967). These have 4-stud wheels (4 x 130 mm PCD) with 8 cooling slots. Rear brakes were always leading / trailing shoe drums.

Production figures

German production:[1]

Brazilian production:[7]

Australian production

The Type 3 was manufactured at Clayton in Victoria, Australia from 1963 in sedan, station wagon and sedan delivery body styles. In 1965, the Fastback was introduced, fully imported from Germany. [8]

Panel van versions (based on the 1500 'N') feature a marine ply wood loading area with zinc plated steel protector strips, 1 x sun visor (for the driver), a clock delete panel and no side windows. All Australian assembled panel vans were fitted with a metal ID tag behind the spare wheel with a prefix of PV then the number hand stamped in. There are approximately 20 known surviving panel vans from the estimated original production run of 150.

Following the cessation of all local manufacturing by Volkswagen Australasia in 1968, the Type 3 was assembled from CKD kits by Motor Producers Limited at the same Clayton facility through to 1973.[9]

Type 34 Karmann Ghia

Type 34 Karmann Ghia

Launched as the "VW 1500 Karmann Ghia Coupé" but informally known as "Der Große Karmann" ("the big Karmann") in Germany, the Type 34 Karmann Ghia was a larger, restyled development of the original Type 14 Karmann Ghia based on the Type 3 platform.[10]

Brazilian Type 3

1969 Brazilian Volkswagen 1600 4 door
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. It met with little success, nicknamed Zé do Caixão (meaning "Coffin Joe", after a popular Brazilian horror movie maker) for its boxy shape.[11] It was discontinued by 1970.

The fastback version, the Volkswagen TL, fared somewhat better, remaining in production from 1970 to 1976, originally as a two-door and later as a four-door version.

As in Germany, the original Karmann Ghia was replaced with the Type 3-based 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, 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 company Chrysler Ferve Argentina SAIC, inheriting some Dodge / Chrysler models and renaming the company Volkswagen Argentina SA. One of the models 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 the 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. The same car 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 an American television commercial for Volkswagen in the 1960s. The commercial featured Dustin Hoffman showing the interior of the Fastback model and explaining the car's technical features but unable to locate the engine. The commercial closes with a title reading, "Your VW dealer will show you where the motor is."


  1. 1 2 Oswald, Werner (2003). Deutsche Autos 1945-1990, Band 3. Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. p. 53. ISBN 3-613-02116-1.
  2. Phil Matthews, Australian Volkswagen History – 1960–1965 Retrieved on 12 August 2011
  3. 1 2 3 Oswald, p 52
  4. Oswald, p 54
  5. Oswald, pp 52, 53 & 61
  6. Cardew, Basil, ed. (October 1969). "Volkswagen 1600 TL". Daily Express Motor Show Review 1969 on 1970 Cars. London: Daily Express Newspaper: 53.
  7. "Volkswagen no Brasil". Retrieved 2011-07-19.
  8. Volkswagen Cars in Australia Retrieved on 17 October 2013
  9. Phil Matthews, Australian Volkswagen History – 1971–1975 Retrieved on 12 August 2011
  10. Hedges, Lee Thomas. "Type 3 Ghia (Type 34) History". Retrieved 2007-04-15.
  11. Vogel, Jason; Negyesi, Pal. "DKW-Vemag". KTUD Online Automotive Archive.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Volkswagen Type 3.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 12/2/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.