There are flat-4 devotees everywhere and Japan is just as crazy about classic Volkswagens as any place. Plenty of Beetles about, running the gamut from older cars to relatively more recent Mexican-made ones. Transporters are so iconic, there is an entire local industry dedicated to turning kei vans into VW-branded T2-lookalikes. Karmann-Ghias are also seen prancing about on occasion. One of the least common rear-engined Volkswagens in these parts is the Type 3.
Well, everything should be put into perspective. I haven’t seen a Thing, a Type 4, a Beetle cabriolet or a Brasilia in Tokyo yet, so there are some Beetle derivatives that are even rarer than the Type 3. But they made 2.5 million Type 3s from 1961 to 1973, so it was quite a popular car in its day. And there are so many Beetle derivatives that it would be difficult to catch ‘em all, Pokémon-style.
No idea if the Type 3 was popular in Japan, but I would guess not. The ‘60s were tough times for small foreign-made family cars in this market. Domestic marques dominated the field, which was far from level-playing. They still do today, but one does encounter smaller foreign cars (e.g. VW, Peugeot, Mini, Fiat) regularly, whereas judging from period photos, this was far from the case half a century ago.
So I’m guessing most of the classic Volkswagens I’m seeing around here were imported at a later stage. It’s probably the case with this 1500 S of the Notchback variety. This one probably came over from Europe, as these weren’t really sold in the US, though Canada did get them, apparently.
The twin-carb 1500 “S” version arrived in late 1963 and lasted only a couple of years, until the 1600 supplanted it. Question is: what does this Tokyo car have in its pointy tail? The stock 54hp flat-4, or some bigger / more recent variation thereof? I have no idea, but the rest of the car looked about as stock as these get. Pity my phone camera was not cooperating that day, but the interior looked just as neat as the rest.
Type 3s are routinely subject to various mods – just like any old VW. The only thing that jumped out at me were these fog lamps, which I was not familiar with. According to a quick bout of web surfing, these appear to be Bosch lamps made specifically for the Type 3, but rarely seen in situ because of the way they are mounted.
According to Paul N., who knows much more about these than I will ever do, something like 95% of Type 3s have been modified with souped up engines, lowered suspensions and the like. Is this one of the 5% that made it to the 21st Century more or less intact?