History

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Pre-production

Collaboration with Porsche for a replacement to the beetle occurred in the late 50's. Search this [| Porsche Engineering Magazine] for the Porsche 728, created in 1960 as Notchback and Fastback models that would become the Type 3.

Production Years

Initially the Type 3 line started in 1961 at Volkswagen, and produced Notchbacks, Squarebacks and the Type 34 Karmann Ghia. The Ghia was not produced after 1969, with a total production run of about 42,500. It is estimated about 2,500 survive today in some fashion.[1]
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Type 3 Body Styles

In 1966 the Fastback model was introduced. This had the same Type 31 designation as the Notchback, and there are apparently no records of production numbers that separate the two, so it's hard to say how many of each were produced. Numbers in the Type 3 Registry indicate that approximately equal numbers of Fastbacks and Notchbacks were made, at about 24% each. Notchback production was apparently noticeably reduced when the Fastback was introduced.

Caveats:

  • The Type 3 Registry is heavily weighted to North America, and fastbacks were reportedly sold more in the U.S. than in Europe, so this estimate of fastbacks might be high.
  • Ghias are over-represented in the current registry - either more of the Type 34 Ghia survived, or more likely, the owners are forced into a couple internet sites to get parts and advice since so few are left, compared to other Type 3's.
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Type 3 Production and U.S. Sales

Historically probably Fastbacks and Notches were 26% each. It is known that of the total production, the Squareback was 46% and there was a little less than 2% for the Type 34 Ghia. Most records indicate that a total of 2.588 million Type 3's were produced over 13 years. (Some sources imply that that number is for German production, and Brazilian production is separate).

Approximately 460 thousand Type 3 vehicles, mostly with variations of the body styles known elsewhere in the world, were built in Brazil for the South American market. Brazilian production ran from 1969-1982, bolstering the idea that Brazilian production numbers are not included in the 2.588 million number, as that only counts the German production years, 1961-1973.

For comparison, over 21 million Beetles were produced, 5.1 million buses, and almost half a million Type 1 Ghias.

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Comparing all ACVW production

U.S. Sales

Sales in the United States, which started in 1965, accounted for about a quarter of all Type 3's produced. While only Squarebacks and Fastbacks were officially imported, all four body styles can be found today in the U.S. Servicemen stationed in Europe were allowed to ship a car home when they returned, so some Type 3's came over this way; Notchbacks were imported to Canada and some made their way into the U.S. and others were imported after production ended and they became collectible.

End of Production

  • Not as successful as desired - market conditions? Other manufacturers updated body styles significantly between 1961 and the 70's. It was originally intended as a replacement for the bug, but people were apparently buying bugs because they were bugs, not because they were VWs.
  • VW moving to water-cooled Golf/Rabbit in 1974, etc. because of emissions regulations, safety? There was also new water-cooled engineering expertise from the purchase of Audi.
    • While emissions and safety standards were increased during this time, the air-cooled beetle and bus were sold in the U.S. until 1979, and the Type 3 was undoubtedly safer than both, with the padded dash, 3-point seat belts and something of a crumple zone.

Whatever the reason, the decision to move to water-cooled vehicles, while unfortunate for Type-3 fans, was a good business decision for Volkswagen, as the Golf/Rabbit soon sold in the millions.