It looked like the Porsche 911’s ugly older brother and even though it was a rather polarising car that many just didn’t ‘get’ (was it supposed to be. Sporty? Not really. Luxurious? Well, it had seats and some carpeting...) thousands fell head over heels for the Type 3 Fastback.
There was a gap in Volkswagen’s lineup in the Sixties and although it had the Type 1 Beetle, Type 14 Karmann Ghia and the Type 2 Bus, it didn’t have a proper family car and so the Type 3 Notchback was put into production in 1961 and marketed as an upgrade to the Beetle. It was soon followed by an estate (the Squareback) and in 1965 came the Fastback. All three got the same basic layout as the previous VW models — that being an aircooled four-cylinder engine at the back and rear-wheel drive.
The trio generated massive interest both at home in Germany and abroad but it was the Fastback that buyers rushed to because it looked like it’d be the most fun to drive of the three. Looks can be deceptive; it could be had with a 1.5 or 1.6-litre motor and mated to either a four-speed manual or automatic but with just 65bhp it sure wasn’t a powerhouse. In 1967 it became the world’s first mass-produced car feature electronic fuel injection. This gave it a whopping... 75bhp. It had disc brakes up front, beefy torsion arms, and the engine and transaxle was mounted on a dampened sub-frame which helped keep noise and vibration under control. In in 1970 it underwent a facelift and grew bigger and tad more practical. Three years later it would be the end of the road for the Type 3.
Why did Wolfsburg halt production when around 2 million had found happy homes? It wanted to launch a new model called the Golf. That turned out to be a pretty good move by VW...