Introduced on the 12th of August, 1968, the
Volkswagen Type 4 represented Volkswagen’s
first attempt to enter the larger car market.
the Beetle remained extremely popular at the time,
there was little doubt that Volkswagen were losing
sales to those buyers that needed 4 doors and a little
The Type 4 was larger than the Type
3 and boasted a more powerful engine of 1.7 to 1.8
liter capacity. Interestingly, the Type 4 would be
the last of the “air-cooled” Volkswagens
to be manufactured, it preceding the wildly successful
Originally introduced with lovely oval headlights,
in 1969 these would be changed to a more traditional
round headlight configuration.
But the Type 4 should
be remembered for the innovations it brought to the
marque. For the first time, a Volkswagen had 4 doors,
featured unibody construction, MacPherson strut front
suspension, rear suspension with coil springs and
trailing wishbones, a hydraulic clutch (for models
fitted with a manual transmission), and uniquely,
it was one of the very first Volkswagen’s
to feature a fully automatic transmission (Note:
The very first fully automatic transmission could
be optioned in the 1969 Type 3, and previous Volkswagens
did feature an automatic transmission, however these
While the Beetle's battery
was located under the rear seat, the Type 4's battery
was located under the driver's seat. In the rear
of the car was located a gasoline operated heater
(Eberspächer BA4) that was fired by a glow plug
accessible from a hidden rear window deck plate.
Type 4 included the 411 (produced from 1968 to 1972)
and the optimized 412 (produced in 1973 and 1974).
Each model included a sedan (fastback) and a station
wagon version. Both models were fuel injected (except
the 1968 model with 68 bhp), one of the first mass
production vehicles to include this electronic feature
after the Volkswagen Type 3 (which also received
fuel injection in 1968).
The Type 4 was reputedly
a favorite project of Volkswagen head Heinz Nordhoff,
who felt that the larger vehicle would be attractive
to families in North America. However, the Type 4
turned out to be less successful than Volkswagen
had hoped for, most families sticking to the type
of vehicles they had been accustomed to.
Type 4 production
was discontinued in 1974 when sales dropped, the
Type 4 engine becoming the power plant for Volkswagen
Type 2 produced from 1972 to 1979, and continued
in modified form in the Volkswagen Vanagon (air-cooled
from 1980 through mid-1983). The engine that superseded
the Type 4 engine in late 1983 retained Volkswagen
Type I architecture, yet featured water-cooled cylinder
heads and cylinder jackets.
VW speak for a water-cooled, opposed-cylinder (flat
engine), did not enjoy the reputation for longevity
that the original air-cooled design forged. From
the very start, the engine suffered cylinder-to-head
sealing problems, mostly due to galvanic
corrosion, often a result of slack maintenance
schedules. Volkswagen discontinued the engine in
1992, when it introduced the Eurovan.
German vernacular, the 411 was called "Langnase" ("looong
nose") or "Vier Türen elf Jahre zu
spät", meaning "four doors coming
eleven years too late" because it was Volkswagen's
first 4-door sedan.