Secretly developed in late 1959 and kept under wraps, despite rumours at the Geneva Motor Show in 1960, the Type 3 Volkswagens were launched in 1961 and continued, with improvements, until production ceased to make way for the front-engine Passats and first Golfs in 1973. The early cars were 1500cc and shared much with the original Beetles, including 6-volt electrics!
Three body styles were offered: the two door Fastback (shown in green on both the model and the 1970 sales brochure), the notchback, in dark red and a two door station wagon sold as the Variant in Europe and the Squareback in the US.
For 1968, engines were upped to 1600cc and the Type 3 ‘super-Beetles’ were the first cars in series production to be offered with electronic fuel injection as standard equipment. Though popular, given increased interior and luggage space, better performance, quieter cruising and more modern looks, the Type 3s never surpassed the popularity of the original Beetles.
Type 3? The original Beetles were designated Type 1, the vans, pickups and ubiquitous Samba passenger vans (probably the first true people carrier!) were Type 2: with Teutonic logic firing on all four air-cooled cylinders, Type 3 was the obvious next step.
More than two and a half million units were sold, excluding prototypes, with build being carried out in Germany, Australia and Brazil.