One of our German Cohorts, Hannes, has posted shots of a vanishing species of VW, the Type 4 412, a Variant in this case. Which is not surprising, since if one is going to be attached to a car I called VW’s Deadly Sin, the Variant is the one to have. In fact, I’d rather like one myself.
The 411 and its post nose-job 412 successor was a big disappointment for both VW and most of its buyers. The market was ready for something really new, as Air-cooled Boxer Fatigue Syndrome had become an epidemic, especially in Germany. VW soon found that, and its replacement, the Passat, turned out to be exactly what folks had been waiting for.
The 411/412 were too slow, thirsty, space-inefficient, and suffered from various maladies. But they were fundamentally robustly built, in the old-school German VW way. Which means that folks who like them and know how to mitigate their quirks can be quite passionate about them.
The Variant is a practical car, with both a rear load area as well as a quite decently roomy front trunk. And it has superb traction. It was the end of the road for format that first saw the light of day in the 1930s, and forty years is a good, long run. But just like the Corvair didn’t cut it against the competition in the US, so did the similar-sized Type 4.