VW type 3 - Nigel Boothman
Prices (standard) Mint: £6000 Average: £2750 Rough: £1250
built ((all variants)
last Type 3
VW Type 3
The Beetle’s big brother – air-cooled, quirky and with extra practicality
Words: Nigel Boothman Photo: www.magiccarpics.co.uk
*Specifiations and prices based on 1600 fastback
Why you want one
It’s a rarer, roomier, funkier Beetle. It’s
similar enough to benefit from a wealth
of shared mechanical parts but you get
a boot both front and rear and a choice
of three bodyshells: the ‘notchback’ is a
two-door saloon, the Variant or
‘squareback’ (from 1962) is a two-door
estate while the ‘fastback’ arrived in
1965 when the option of a 1600cc
engine came in too. They’re all
economical to run and they make a headturning passport to the huge and varied
air-cooled Vee-Dub scene.
The rust comes in two flavours: obvious
and much less so. The former looks ugly
– front wings, door bottoms – but the
latter is more serious. Check the
floorpans by lifting the carpets, the body
flange where it mounts on the floorpan
edges, inner sills, rear lower seatbelt
mounts, front axle tubes behind rubber
mountings, rear suspension cross-tube
side mounts and upper body mounts.
You won’t find a UK car without rust, so
seek a well-repaired one or get jiggy with
the MIG. Beware of recent re-sprays and
fresh underseal unless you’re looking at
a top-notch restoration.
This was the world’s first series
production car with electronic injection;
Bosch D-Jetronic optional from 1968.
Before that, both 1500 and later 1600
came in single and twin-carb form, while
the 1600A actually used a base-model
1500cc lump. As standard, these
engines go on and on with regular oil
changes – if modified, you’re less sure.
Consistent blue smoke is a worry but
nothing is too hard or costly to sort.
brake hoses. The front suspension is not
the same as a Beetle, using full-width
torsion bars, while at the rear you’ll find a
conventional VW swing axle up to 1968
and then the CV-jointed semi-trailing arm
type. Lowering is common – ensure it’s
been done using uprated shocks and
within the tolerances of the balljoints; a
harsh ride is the giveaway.
trim & interior
An original, smart interior is a major plus
and pretty rare as it wasn’t superdurable and often gets altered by
customisers. Replacement is expensive
but most parts can be found, as is true
with the vast majority of Type 3 spares.
Just decide what you want – standard, or
something else. n
Play in the front axle means worn trailing
arms or bushes and probably a trip to a
specialist for an overhauled axle.
Ineffectual brakes are usually the result
of seized front calipers or 40 year-old
Buying or selling? Go to www.classiccarsforsale.co.uk
■ VW Type 3&4 Club:
■ Type 3 Detectives (spares):
PRACTICAL CLASSICS // JULY 2012