The VW Type 3 is a very compact vehicle that was manufactured between 1961 and 1973. The Type 3 was introduced in 1961 during the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany. The Type 3, also marketed as the Volkswagen 1500 and later as the Volkswagen 1600, came in three body styles: two-door Notchback, Fastback and Squareback, 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 VW Beetle (also called VW Bug), Type 14 Karmann Ghia and the VW Bus – while retaining several of the Beetle’s key engineering principles, notably the air-cooled rear-engine, rear-wheel drive layout and all-round torsion bar suspension on the same 2,400 mm (94.5 in) wheelbase.
Table of contents
VW Type 3 models
As mentioned before, the Type 3 has three well known models: the Squareback, the Notchback and the Fastback.
VW Type 3 Squareback
The Type 3 Squareback or Variant was launched in 1962. The Squareback was introduced as a highly practical family car. The Variant is very spacious, a mix between the VW Beetle and Bus.
- Model: VW Squareback or Variant
- Manufactured: from 1961 to 1973
- Fuel type: petrol
- Engine size: 1500cc and 1600cc
- Engine type: air-cooled
- Drive configurations: LHD (left-hand drive), RHD (right-hand drive)
VW Type 3 Notchback
The Type 3 Notchback was introduced in 1961, generating huge interest and paving the way for the incredibly popular Type 34 Ghia, which used the Type 3’s bodypan. The Notchback has a top speed of 125 km/h, which is 78 mph.
VW Type 3 Fastback
The Type 3 Fastback was launched in 1965 as the sporty model of the three with the 1600cc engine, which was then made available for Variants and Notchbacks from that year onwards.
Chassis and engine numbers
If you are looking for the correct VW Type 3 models, chassis and engine numbers, you can find them here: type 3 chassis and engine numbers.
Type 3 Engine
The VW Type 3 engine was initially 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 Bus. 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 VW Beetle but with higher ratios (4.125 R&P v 4.375 R&P) and longer axles. Unlike the VW Bug (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 floor pan and body, thereby isolating vibration and road noise from the passenger space.
The original Volkswagen 1500 engine 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 VW 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 1800E/ES, 142E, and certain 1972-75 140 and 164 series cars (see Volvo P1800). Also introduced for 1968 was a fully automatic transmission.
A notable advance from the VW Beetle 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. The complete front suspension unit is rubber-mounted to the car’s floor pan. 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 ( IRS ) swing-axle type), a design feature that previously appeared on the VW Type 2 in 1967.
The Type 3 offered both front and rear enclosed luggage areas, with greater volume and cargo accessibility via both the boot (trunk) and the bonnet (hood). In each of the 3 variants (Notchback, Squareback, and Fastback) as well as the Type 2’s from 1968 on, the engine was located under a panel in the rear trunk.
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.
VW Type 3 history
The VW Type 3 1500 Notchback, ‘Station Car’ and Convertible were announced during the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany (convertible never entered production). The vehicle had a 1493 cc engine, 7.2:1 CR, 53 bhp at 4,000 rpm with side-draft 32 PHN carb; torque exceeds 80 ft.lbs between 1,500 and 2,800 rpm. 6-volt electrics, side parking lamps, variable speed wipers. Swing-axle half-shafts; twin lower full-width torsion bars on front; two brake cylinders per front wheel; opening rear side windows, central rear armrest on Notchback.
Notchback and Variant (Squareback) available with either 1500N (54 bhp at 4,200 rpm, 7.8:1 CR, torque 83.2 ft.lbs. at 2,800 rpm, 33.5 mpg, max. speed 78 mph) or 1500S (twin carbs 32-PDSIT2/3 66 bhp at 4,800 rpm, 8.5:1 CR, torque 83.9 ft.lbs. at 3,000 rpm, 36 mpg, max. speed 84 mph). Brake lining area increased. ‘N’ models have single-speed wipers, no parking lights, small front indicator ‘bullets’, pre-heated intake air, opening quarter lights optional extra. ‘S’ models have extra chrome trim on side front and rear, wheel trims, passenger outside door-lock, larger rear lights and chromed reflector housing, opening rear side windows, clock, door pockets, side arm-rests and two rear ashtrays, push-button control switch panel, headlamp flashers, second sun-visor, rear interior light, passenger door mirror (Variant or Squareback). No intake air pre-heater.
Models as in Aug 1963, except torque quoted as “over 72.3 ft.lbs. in range 1500-2800 rpm”.
Fastback introduced as 1600TL, and Variant (Squareback) 1600. New 1600 engine (1584 cc, 65 bhp, 7.7:1 CR, 86.8 ft.lbs. at 2,800 rpm, 84 mph max, 34 mpg). Front disc brakes fitted. Weighted flap pre-heater for intake air. Exhaust muffler has detachable upper heat exchangers. Trim as 1500S.
Models now 1600A and 1600L Notchback, 1600TL Fastback, 1600A and 1600L Variant (Squareback). 1600 twin carb engine now quoted as 31.5 mpg. ‘L’ models have the automatic option, which includes the double-joint rear axle (max speed 81 mph, 29 mpg). ‘1600A’ models have the 54 bhp 1500 engine (!), and less trim. All models gain dual circuit brake system, 12-volt electrics, safety steering column, two-speed wipers with 15″ blades, flexible plastic knobs on switches and vent-wing catches, front-seat backrest release knobs, trigger door handles, larger outside mirror, external fuel filler flap with finger-hole (non-lockable). As ‘L’ extras:- head restraints, HRW, hazard flashers, reversing lights.
Electronic Fuel Injection introduced; double-joint rear axle, internal filler release, hazard flashers. FI Automatic 30 mpg. Radial tires and petrol heater as extras.
Long-fronted models introduced; extra luggage space, Europa bumpers, larger front flashers, and rear light units, fresh air box and dashboard modified, bonnet springs replace torsion bar mechanism, inner wings gain external reinforcement panels. 1600T, TA and TL Fastback, 1600A and L Variant (Squareback).
1600TA and TE Fastback, 1600A and E Variant (Squareback); now with rear ventilation slots. ‘E’ models have FI, HRW, side trim, carpeting, passenger sun-visor, clock. Thermostatic intake pre-heater for twin carbs.
Increased brake pad area with early 411 calipers, ‘Computer Diagnosis’ socket, larger bore single-piece damper/tailpipe, longer outside door-lock triggers (wiggly) and deeper door recess, black-faced instruments, four-spoke steering wheel, wash-wipe lever on column with single wipe option, anti-burst lock on Variant (Squareback) tailgate, aluminium painted indicators, cut-away corners on front bumpers.
Centre rail seats; front footwell heater outlets controlled from the tunnel. Black wiper arms and blade holders, late May 1972. Bonnet (hood) and boot-lid (trunk) badge simplified with a brushed finish. No further changes in August 1972 for 1973 models.
VW Type 3 parts
Are you looking for parts for your Type 3 (exhaust, floor pans, body panels, bumpers, roof racks,…? On this page you can submit a parts request that is send to multiple VW Type 3 parts sellers (Paruzzi & VW Heritage). They will provide you with their price (without obligation to buy the parts AND there are no hidden charges).
Are you selling used VW Type 3 parts? You can list them in this forum topic. Other Aircooled Community members might be interested.
Type 3 for sale
Interested in a VW type 3 for sale? Visit our forum thread VW Type 3 for sale and have a look at all the ads submitted by other members of the Aircooled Community. If you are interested in a Type 3 for sale, you can always contact the owner by sending him / her a private message or by reacting on the ad itself.
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