HomePick of the DayPick of the Day: Customized 1969 VW Squareback

Pick of the Day: Customized 1969 VW Squareback

Type 3 model has a restoration with some extreme modifications


The Pick of the Day is no ordinary Volkswagen Squareback station wagon, not that there ever was anything ordinary about such vehicles in the United States, where Beetles and vans were the mainstay of the import fleet. The VW Type 3 was sold in Fastback, Squareback and Notchback styles for only a few years in the late 1960s and early ‘70s.

Known in some markets as the 1600 designation based on the displacement of their 1,585cc engines, were based on the European Type 3 Volkswagen. When the models arrived in the U.S. for the 1966 model year, those engines provided 65 horsepower, 15 more than the 1,285cc powerplants in the Beetle and Karmann-Ghia.

The Pick of the Day is a customized 1969 Volkswagen Squareback advertised on ClassicCars.com by a dealership in St. Louis, Missouri.

Squareback, Pick of the Day: Customized 1969 VW Squareback, ClassicCars.com Journal

According to the advertisement, this custom Squareback wagon has undergone a recent restoration. It rides on Air Ride suspension and its 1600 engine has been upgraded with dual Weber carburetors and a stainless-steel A1 exhaust. The engine links to a 4-speed manual gearbox.

The front track has been narrowed by four inches and front wheels changed from 4- to 5-lug. The dealer notes the car’s “Porsche performance stance” enabled by the use of 15-inch Porsche wheels and front disc brakes.

“Finished in show-winning Olive paint with a black roof, the finish and trim on this wagon are in excellent order overall with only some very minor imperfections,” the dealer notes. “The body panels are straight and solid, the engine bay is extremely tidy and the chrome bumpers are in very good order. The rear cargo area above the engine is well-finished and the rear window has an electric defroster.

“Inside, the red front bucket and rear bench seats are in excellent condition. The black carpet is in very good order while the white headliner is in similar condition and offers great contrast to the carpet and seats. 

“A factory, two-spoke steering wheel faces the driver while the red inner door panels and instrument panel are all in very good shape but the fuel gauge and horn are inoperable. The car has VDO gauges as well but does not have wiper blades. A floor-mounted shift lever resides between the front seats. Controls for the air ride system are hidden in the glovebox.”

Squareback, Pick of the Day: Customized 1969 VW Squareback, ClassicCars.com Journal

The dealer points out that, “Unlike the Beetle (Type 1), the Type 3 engine and transmission unit was mounted into a subframe (which contained the complete rear suspension), in turn rubber-mounted to the floorpan and body, thereby isolating vibration and road noise from the passenger space. 

“A notable advance from the Type 1 to the Type 3 was the front suspension, although similar to the Type 1, it was the first Volkswagen front suspension to incorporate transverse round torsion bars, as opposed to the Type 1’s torsion leaves. The Type 3’s torsion bars are cross-mounted in the lower tube, so that each individual torsion bar spans the full width of the car, the upper tube containing an anti-roll bar that connects the upper trailing links to each other. The complete front suspension unit is rubber-mounted to the car’s floorpan. 

“In 1968, the rear suspension was upgraded to double jointed CV joint semi trailing arm suspension (sometimes called IRS by VW enthusiasts to differentiate it from the previous (IRS) swing-axle type), a design feature that previously appeared on the VW Type 2 in 1967.”

The dealer also points out that the Type 3 had both front and rear luggage areas. 

Squareback, Pick of the Day: Customized 1969 VW Squareback, ClassicCars.com Journal

“The Type 3 was competing in the market with the Chevrolet Corvair that had been previously introduced in the United States in 1960, which incorporated a six-cylinder, rear-mounted, air-cooled engine in notchback and station wagon body style, as well as a compact van derived from the platform,” the dealer reports. 

“In 1968, the Type 3 “E” (Einspritzung) became the first German automobile in series production with electronic fuel injection (Bosch D-Jetronic) as standard equipment.”

The Squareback is being offered for $37,900. To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


  1. I remember a buddies vw “beatle” had no gas gauge but had an auxiliary fuel tank which could be turned on under the dash. Also remember riding in it in the winter on the Sask prairie with no real heater some heat recirc from the rear monted engine
    He ipgraded to a gas heater inthe trunk when he got a girl friend. Good times!

  2. Speaking as an ex mechanic, (10 years, all thru the 70’s) Yep. these were a total POS. Amazing how literally everything is somehow remembered as a great car and……. collectable ! Totally forgetting how Unreliable they were back when people actually had to drive them and depend on them to get to work and school.
    I’m now waiting for the Fiat 850 to come up shortly. That ones also on the list !! Along with Audi and the Volkswagen Vanagone / Westphalia

  3. My boss owned one in the 80’s. He would use for short trips locally. The transmission was rebuilt three times. A bit underpowered even back then.
    The car is a survivor !.

    • I had a similar experience with a ’66 Squareback that I really liked but which didn’t like me back. Lots of issues, including a transmission that blew. I got rid of it when the replacement trans showed signs of succumbing as well.

  4. I bought a ’65 Squareback from Todd @ TopCat VW in Tempe, AZ Back in ’87 for $1500 and I still have it. When I went to register it, the DMV told me that they weren’t even imported in the US until ’66, so mine had to be from Canada. The car is 55+ years old now and could use a little TLC, but it’s getting hard to find spare parts. Todd if you’re still out there please call me!


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