Friday, May 19, 2017

Lovely little Variant in Oakland

Some cars have languishing in my computer for no particular reason. I snapped these pics in Oakland at least 2 years ago. Look at this sweet freaking face!
This is a 1970-1973 Volkswagen Type 3 Squareback in Yukon Yellow (with the exception of a door and quarter panel that are in the color Amber). I can tell you from experience that this is a great car.
The Beetle was the Type 1 and the Bus Type 2. These were known as Type 3 or Volkswagen 1600 depending on the market. The Type 3 was launched in 1961 and initially consisted of the 1500 Notchback; a 2 door coupe with a front and rear trunk. These were never imported to the U.S. and as a result are very collectible today. The U.S. market first saw the Type 3 in 1966 when both a Fastback and Squareback 1600 were offered.   
These rides have a pancake motor which is essentially a flattened version of the 1600cc VW air-cooled 4 cylinder. It was compact enough that it set underneath the rear cargo floor. You open the rear hatch, lift up the black rubber mat, and there is a metal trapdoor that unlocks and opens to expose the motor.
The '60s Type 3s had smaller front turn signals, taillights, and bumpers as well as a slightly smaller body overall. Of all the myriad cars whose lights and bumpers grew to meet regulations I think the Squareback wears them exceptionally well.
The Squareback was known as the Variant in the rest of the world.
While there was a fully automatic transmission available for these the manual is the way to go. They are outfitted with the Freeway Flyer transmission which benefitted greatly by having taller gears for highway cruising. I once drove 4 people 4 hours at 70mph without issue in one of these.
The louvers along the top of the quarter panel feed air into the engine cooling system which worked very well even in hot climates. By 1969 these rides came with Bosch fuel injection standard. A major percentage of the VW community believes converting those old injection systems to dual carbs is the way to go. I had a 1970 Squareback with F.I. and it was fantastic; always starting in any weather, smoothly accelerating with plenty of power, and never needing adjustment for the 5 years I drove it. The caveat is that our car came with a manila binder full of records and someone had replaced the computer "brain" for the system years earlier for $1,200. In 1990s money that was a lot but it worked a treat!
Well that does it for this charming little daisy.
I was out at Ocean Beach in S.F. with my girlfriend at the time and we saw one of these in Baby Blue with a for sale sign in the window. After admiring it we walked into the Surf Coffee Shop talking about how cool it was. The guy sitting by the door said "wanna test drive it?" and handed us the keys! We didn't know that guy at all but we took him up on it. 5 minutes later we were back negotiating a deal for the car (I think $2,200 down from his asking price of $2,500). The clock didn't work but it was set to 4:20. The ashtray was full of roaches to boot.
We drove that car for 2 years in while living on California St. in S.F., and then trailered it back East to Western Massachusetts. There we continued driving it for another 3 years, parking it only for the few worst winter months. Each Spring she would start right up. After that the Squareback made the move to New York with us and she stayed with my ex as it was always really her car. I heard it was sold to someone in Pennsylvania and hopefully she's driving as I write this.
If you see one in good shape and running condition don't hesitate. These are spectacular, hilariously fun cars to use every day.

No comments:

Post a Comment