Thursday, December 15, 2011

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1964 Volkswagen Type 3 1500 Notchback

I've never understood Volkswagen tuners. It seems like most VeeDubs have one or two preferred "looks" with little variation among them. Most modern customized VWs I see are slammed to the ground, rolling on BBS lace wheels with stretched tires, negative camber and smoked light lenses. Many are debadged, sporting roof racks and fart can mufflers. For some reason a recent trend seems to be a rusted hood on an otherwise shiny car.

Vintage VWs also get dropped down low, but they offer a little more variation. This mid-1960s (identified by the former owner as an early 1964 with the 'push button' dashboard - thanks for stopping by!) Type 3 Notchback is a refreshing change from your average Beetle. It doesn't stray far from the classic VW tuner's rule book: EMPI 5-spoke wheels, low stance, a clean body and some accessory lamps. However, the trunk badges are missing (possibly soon to have their mounting holes filled and painted over for a smoother look) and the hood appears to be on its way toward the rusted look. However, it's entirely possible the owner bought a replacement hood and hadn't gotten it painted yet at the time I found it. According to the former owner's comments, he was actually in the process of restoring the car to more original condition from its modified state.

What really made this car stand out to me was the fact that the Type 3 Notchback was never part of Volkswagen's US lineup. We got the Squareback and the lesser-known Fastback (the car whose engine Dustin Hoffman famously couldn't find in the TV ads), but the Notchback wasn't offered here. So the only way to get one is to import one from Canada or Europe or some other market where the Notchback was originally sold. Being the same basic car as the other Type 3s, and old enough to be exempt from emissions testing, it shouldn't be too hard to certify in the States.
I've always liked Type 3s, and despite my love for station wagons, the Fastback and Notchback are my favorite body styles. The Notch has an airy greenhouse design with good visibility, and the engine's air vents beneath the rear window are subtle enough that it doesn't scream, "I'm a rear-engined, air cooled car!" If you took the badges off, I bet a lot of people would never know it was a Volkswagen. I like the EMPI wheels on this one, and the stance is fine. I'd keep the trunk badging and paint the hood. A car this clean and straight really should be one color and complete. Amusingly, the owner has made an effort to enhance the vintage look of his car by painting the mid 2000s-issue license plate to look like a California "black plate" issued between 1963 and 1969. It's a nice touch, but black plates were six digits with "ABC 123" pattern. The current plate numbering system ("1ABC123") is similar except for the seventh prefix digit, 5 in the case of this car. To a casual observer unfamiliar with California plates of 45 years ago, it's convincing enough. And now, California actually has a Legacy License Plate program that's re-issuing vintage styled plates painted in the correct color for the era of manufacture.
Nice car, Volks tuner. Keep it clean.


  1. nice post :) Well said. I never would've given the plate a second glance :)

  2. The owner has also done away with the front door vent windows. All-red tail lights look odd to foreign eyes - custom or US-spec?.

  3. dude you are an idiot.. that is a 1964 pushbutton dash notchback. I was getting the hood repainted because the builder of this car got too trigger happy and drove the car unfinished with no latch on the hood.. I bought this car for $5000. A steal for such a rare car. I had little money as I was parked out front of my first real job after college and couldnt afford half the things "you" would do.. My plan before I lost my job at the time was to restore this to a more original state.. Those are real DMV issued plates in that color that you could order online if you were in the know.. now in 2014 the cats out of the bag and all the rich fucks are rocking black plates on their landrovers.. as far as the emblems/license plate frame goes.. holes had to be drilled in the body.. as you can see i driled two so far.. i was waiting on a wether stripping gasket before i mounted the fucking emblems.. so quite the contrary of doing the insane amount of body work and painting to cover up those holes.. fuck that.. Those wheels fuck those wheels.. I was getting orginal smoothies painted at the same shop the hood was getting done at.. and with white wall tires.. the stance.. well the builder of this car fucking ruined the suspension.. he put a type 1 beetle front end on there that was narrowed 5 inches.. then shorter axles in the rear.. ruined.. I hated the suspension and it was one of the main reasons why I decided to let it go when i was broke for a few months.. looking back now I should of kept it and worked out the suspension woes that bothered me... it wasnt really that bad, but I wanted a more original feel to the ride.. btw I am no tuner and the PO was no tuner himself.. this car was build by a dude with little clue about restoring a vw correctly.. and yes I was also in the process of changing the windows back to wing windows.. fuck.. this entire write up had me so wrong soo wrong.. its funny seeing how someone else saw this car.. god i miss it though

    1. I'm no expert on these cars, so I appreciate your corrections and will change the year accordingly. No need to take my words personally; most of the time I never meet the owners of cars I photograph, so I call it like I see it and guess at the vehicle's history. In the case of a customized vehicle that's apparently a work in progress, I try to figure out the owner's plans for it. As for the things "I" would do, I'm not in any financial situation to do them either; I was an unemployed student when I wrote this post. In fact, I'm happy to hear that you were restoring the car to a more original condition. Hope things improve for you soon. Maybe someday you can track your Notchback down and buy it back.

    2. Well Fuck the fuckin Fuck. This car has the look no matter what. You are an idiot for making it worse, losing your fast food job, and just being. No Offence!!