The illustration is of one of the last model 3s. It is, after the beetle and the transporter, the first serious attempt to move away from offerring exclusively a saloon-car. In addition, it should appeal to those clients who desire more comfort, space and performance, and also have an eye on the mid-range products of the competition.
The assignment of tasks for the designers is not simple. Due to the fact that the garages have standardised hoists for wheelbase and wheel track, these measurements may not be changed in a new model. Of course the air-cooled rear engine should also be maintained. At least professor Porsche had calculated the beetle so generously, that even for a mid-range car of that time, just enough space remained between the two axles.
Of course one could no longer offer, as with the beetle, a rear boot which could be loaded from the inside. Therefore the engine compartment had to shrink, and this it did, extensively. It's here that the boxer engine shows its strong points. The air now flows around the cylinders (heads) in an axial direction, driven by a fan-wheel directly mounted on the crankshaft. The rest of the unit is subject to the low construction height.
In the beginning there were still versions with a (horizontal draft) carburettor, but that had a hard job bringing a sufficient air-flow through the winding pipe to the two outside cylinder heads. Because, at the same time, more performance was also desired, different from the other two, twin carburettors dominate in the model 3.
The engine owes its unusually good responding behaviour to a sensible synchronisation of both sides. However, if the garage cannot service correctly, the fuel consumption, which is high anyway, rises distinctly. The first twin-carburettor equipment appeared in the 1500 S. It had a higher compression, which not only increased its performance, but it was hoped that it would lower the consumption, even if this time - for VW unusual - super petrol had to be fueled.
As, however, various tuners of the VW boxer had earlier grievously discovered, the, in itself, not always completely stable engine, reacted to increased compression with engine-stress or overheating causing various breakdowns. Even Porsche itself, had first increased the oil supply efficiency and had, at the same time, provided for better filtering, before drastically increasing the performance.
Larger oil-channels would, at some time, appear in the 1600, but never a main-line oil filter. Therefore, fast driven 1500 S engines were sometimes discredited, which could be taken care of by increasing the cubic capacity and thus reducing the compression. The performance remained and also the carburettor equipment with its ball-head leverage. The garages had no choice, other than to get used to it.
The engines now cause no further problems, except for the roadworthy check every two years, not only the exhaust, but also the accompanying heat exchangers for the interior heating, are given close attention by the examiners. Particularly Porsche owners can sing a sad-song about how such an article can be so expensive. The VW organisation, with its moderate prices, was much more reasonable.
To sum up, one can say that if in the, apart from the engine and some strengthening, almost unchanged beetle chassis, the result is a not much larger interior, at least the luggage compartment had profited. Although neither the fastback- nor the notchback version was able to accommodate, neither in front nor in the back, the famous case of beer, not even after later enlargement actions, the estate car (Variant), however, fulfilled most transport requirements quite well.
Thus the VW customer continued, for at first, just a little more, then later, for much more money, to drive a "Beetle". Even the scanty instrumentation was preserved, of the three dashboard cut-outs, in the basic version, only two were equipped, one of them however, only with four indicator lights and the fuel gauge. At least, the heating control had found its way up to the dash board.
At least, the model 3 had been given the long-life qualities of the model 1. The reason why not many of them have survived, particularly the fastback variations, called the touring saloon? Well, the answer lies in the crude, boring design from Wolfsburg at that time. The still remaining cars have probably not survived because one considers them to be stylishly pretty.
Later still, the first series of an electronic fuel injection appeared. This enforced, slowly but surely, the export to the USA with its exhaust gas regulations. Although for Germany, without increased performance, it was expensive, at just under 600 DM, it did definitely not however, recap the development expenses. The driving habits of the Americans even presented the vehicle, from 1967 onwards, with a much praised, VW-in-house, automatic transmission, which unfortunately robbed the engine of its last remaining temperament.
The conception was fairly successful. At least, the model 3 sold, in 12 years, more than 2.5 million vehicles. In the beginning, even a convertible was planned, (see above) which was dropped however, due to the lack of sufficient stability. Open-air fans had to reach out for one of the few Karmann-Convertibles built on the same basis.
Later it was attempted once again with the VW 411 which was also available as a 4-door model. However, it was too late, the competition with front engines had already asserted itself. The true successor was the lighter, faster, more spacious and more economical Passat, a 380 litre luggage compartment is simply worth more than two smaller ones with 200- and 180 liters of space. 01/08