Automotive History: VW’s Stillborn Big Wide Car For America – The AmiWagen, or 911 Sedan

VW EA 128 fq

(first posted 7/20/2014)    VW’s current strategy to design larger cars specifically for the US market isn’t exactly new. In the early sixties, VW gave serious thought to a six-seater rear-engine sedan to take on the Americans on their own (big) terms. The EA 128 was a fair chunk bigger and wider than the Corvair, right into US mid-size territory. And with bench seats no less, to seat six big Amerikaner. Even a wagon version (Kountry Knecht?) was built. But where to get the underpinnings and six-cylinder engine for the AmiWagen? Where else:

VW EA128 fq.jpg (courtesy

Those wheels are the give-away: Porsche, of course; that wellspring of VW prototypes and engineering for decades. And how convenient; the timing in 1962 was perfect for Porsche, since their own new six-cylinder 901 (911) was just in gestation. The result: a (US) mid-sized sedan version of the 911, from the suspension right up to the steering wheel.

VW EA 128 rqimage:

Stretching 4.7 meters (185 inches) long, the EA128 was a half-foot longer than the Corvair, and from the looks of it, substantially wider.

VW EA 128 intimage:

The front seat was clearly designed for three-across seating, with a 40/60 split bench. The dash is decidedly un-American; needs to have a long horizontal speedometer and just a gas gauge. This is way too Porsche-like.

VW EA128 engine.jpg (courtesy

The 2 liter 911 air-cooled boxer six engine was detuned to 90 hp, which was respectable for European standards of the time, but the engine’s torque curve would have been anything but familiar with the typical American driver. Never mind the cost to build it, which presumably was at least one of the EA 128′s downfall.

VW EA 128.jpg (courtesy’s the fake wood?

The Corvair’s own downward trajectory probably didn’t help. And even if VW could rationalize its production, it would have still come out way more expensive than a Fairlane. But VW had it all wrong: this should have been sold as a Porsche, with a zippy new name, say…Panamera.


Related reading: VW 411/412: VW’s Deadly Sin