I love Squarebacks, you love Squarebacks, everybody loves Squarebacks. And that term certainly sounds better than “Variant” in our present pandemic-plagued predicament. I don’t wish to sound alarmist, but there’s been something of an epidemic of Squarebacks in Tokyo: three sightings over a very short period of time. Type 3 indeed!
CC has had more than its fair share of VW Type 3 posts (listed at the end of this one); I even wrote a couple of them. So there’s no point in reiterating the model’s history here. This post is just going to be a visual celebration of the cornucopia of Type 3 wagons that have crossed my path this year so far.
As can be plainly seen, we have two of the “old” generation (1962-69) and one later model, which given its lack of C-pillar air vents, would be a MY 1970. Not sure what the deal is with the blue one’s massive muffler…
I found the blue one and that absolute minter of a white one on the same day, which was about a week after I had caught that slightly ripe beige 1970 wagon. So you can see why I thought the Variant had reached epidemic proportions in Japan.
I love the interior of these cars. That triple dial set-up is just perfect. Interesting to see the variety of aftermarket items used by VW enthusiasts on their Type 3s: the trigger gear lever, the different kinds of wood-rimmed steering wheels… The blue car’s original steering wheel is far more appropriate (to my eyes) than anything else, though the later cars’ all-black-plastic items were rather ugly.
The 1970 facelift, with that squared-up hood line, chunky bumpers and large amber turn signals, really transforms the Type 3’s look into something more modern, but also less happy. They literally wiped that chrome smile off the Type 3’s face.
We have all three types of rear lights (and front turn signals) in this Variant triad. There seems to be an issue, though. The flat type and pointy type on the early cars are supposed to correspond to the N (base model) and S (deluxe trim) respectively. Similarly, bullet-type turn signals are supposed to be found on N cars, and S cars should have the wraparound kind. Of course, the white car here has S-type turn signals and N-type rear lights and the blue car is the exact opposite. And I’m kind of puzzled. But I may have misinterpreted something or just got bad info on the Samba forums I’ve been reading to make sense of all these minutiae. Surely someone at CC will set the record straight!
Of all the Type 3 body styles, the Squareback is undoubtedly the one that gets my vote. The very notion of a rear-engined wagon excites the contrarian in me. The only real downside is that it’s missing two doors, which makes it less practical than it could have been. A cardinal sin for a wagon. But hey, these VWs look great, which is more than can be said about the Type 4, and are big enough to haul a small family, which is much more than the Type 1 could realistically achieve.
Could this be the best air-cooled VW then? That’s a triple yes from me. Three cheers for the Type 3 Squareback, the most catchy Variant of them all!
Curbside Classic: 1969 VW Type 3 Fastback – In Good Company, by Actually Mike