Volkswagen Type 4

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Volkswagen Type 4

1968 - 1974
Flat 4.
1.7 - 1.8 liter
4 spd man / 3 spd auto
Top Speed:
Number Built:
1 star
Introduced on the 12th of August, 1968,  the Volkswagen Type 4 represented Volkswagen’s first attempt to enter the larger car market.

While 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 larger capacity.

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 Golf.

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 were vacuum-actuated).

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.

The 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.

The Wasserboxer, VW speak for a water-cooled, opposed-cylinder (flat or boxer 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.

In contemporary 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.

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Also see:

Volkswagen Heritage
Volkswagen Car Commercials
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