Being a Type 3 owner, I am hurt when I hear people discuss my little car. Most of the time people write off Type 3s, like my Squareback. They relegate Type 3s to the realm of Volkswagen failures, along with the Volkswagen Type 4 and the Volkswagen Caddy. But my little blue Squareback isn't a failure, it's just a misunderstood sibling, overshadowed by its older brothers, the Beetle and the Bus.
The Volkswagen Type 3 came in the three basic models as well as the beautiful VW Type 34 Karmann Ghia. Although there orignally was to be a cabriolet model, the chassis were not rigid enough and the model was scratched. The Type 3 was introduced to the world in early 1961, in the form of the 1500/1600 Notchback sedan. This was followed by the station wagon-like 1500/1600 Squareback/Variant in 1962. In 1965, the Fastback 1600TL was released. Volkswagen began development of the VW Type 34 Karmann Ghia alongside the Notchback in 1961. All Type 3s have 2 doors, except for the 3 door Squareback which has a large rear hatch. Type 3 production ended in 1973/1974 with a total production around 2 million cars.
The Volkswagen Type 3 shares many of its design features with the VW Type I/ Beetle, but also adds several features and enhancements which make the Type 3 feel like a more expensive car. The Type 3 is based on a pan-chassis which has front and rear torsion beams. These torsion beams are improved over those of the Beetle, giving the Type 3 a smoother ride, better handling and less tendancy for oversteer. Early Type 3s came with drum brakes front and rear, but Volkswagen switched over to disc brakes in front in 1966. Attached to this chassis is a four speed manual transmission located in the rear of the car. An extremly efficent three speed automatic transmission could be found in later models. The transmissions were connected to the wheels through swing axles until 1968 on manual transmissions. In 1968 Volkswagen introduced their automatic transmission and with it came independent rear suspension with CV joints. Independent rear suspension was carried over to manual transmissions in 1969. Attached to the transmissions is a aircooled engine (more info on Volkswagen Type 3 Motor). This motor was designed to have a very low profile, allowing it to sit under the cargo area of the Squareback, and under the trunks of the other Type 3s.
The Type 3 has a very large amount of cargo space for a car of its size, regardless of its configuration. This is due to the fact the there is a trunk in front, and a trunk or cargo space in the rear, under which the engine sits.