Cheap Project: 1972 Volkswagen Type 3 Squareback
The Volkswagen Squareback is a wagon variant of the popular Type 3 platform, which was a shared floorpan that used Type 1 Beetle (and Type 14 Karmann Ghia and Type 2 Bus) parts to build rear-engine air-cooled Notchback, Fastback, and Squareback. It is funny to think that 50 years ago Volkswagen was this tremendous builder of economy cars that were interesting and different from the mainstream, but today it owns Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, and Porsche — and it mostly sells boring same-as-everybody-else-but-marketed-different junk. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing bad about being the largest seller of vehicles in the world, but where did all the aircooled fun stuff go? Find this 1972 Volkswagen Squareback offered for $2700 in Sacramento, CA via craigslist.
From the seller:
1972 VOLKSWAGEN SQUAREBACK
title status: clean
1972 VW Squareback – DOES NOT RUN
Picked it up wanting to fix the motor but school and work got in the way and I don’t have the time like I wanted to have to work on it.
It’s a complete car and was running and driving for the last owner but it dies on the freeway on them, there could be a couple of things broken on it but i’m thinking the bottom end is seized
There is some damage on the passenger side but it’s a clean title!
I’m kind of firm on the price but shoot me an offer!
See a better way to drive something air cool? firstname.lastname@example.org
This one is of particular interest to me because I currently own a 1972 Squareback that I’m considering putting up for sale later this year. I’ve got a few thoughts here, but I’ll try to keep it brief. (I’ll try, but fail)
First, the info you provide at the beginning is either a little confusing or it’s incorrect. Yes, the Type 3 Squareback (aka Variant) shares the pan and nearly all components with the other Type 3 variations (Notchback sedan and Fastback), but it doesn’t share much, if anything with the Type 1 (Beetle), Ghia, or Type 2 (Transporter, aka Bus). The Type 3 is mostly a whole different animal.
Second, this price on this particular car seems very good, however, there is a lot that is unknown that the ad doesn’t address. Primarily, the condition of the engine and the presence or lack of rust are the two biggest issues. If both are good and just need attention, then this is a decent deal. If there are big problems, this is just full retail for a nice parts car. But to me, it appears that it is better than parts and could be a basis for a driver-quality build, even if an engine rebuild or swap is required. It just won’t be a bargain in that situation.
This car has been converted from fuel injection to carburetors. It’s not necessarily an improvement, it’s just that over the years, a lot of these went through this conversion because not enough owners and mechanics were well versed in the FI systems and found carbs to be the easy solution to problems. Type 3 parts in general, and FI parts in particular, aren’t growing on trees like those for Bugs, so that’s also one of the main reasons for carbs.
My personal ’72 is more original and in significantly better condition than this car, but it’s still driver-quality. It is still running strong with original FI. The key is to keep putting miles on the car on a regular basis, even if it’s not many miles. I’ve owned it for about 15 years now and have enjoyed it, but it’s getting time for me to reduce my car collection and let some go. There’s another Squareback in my family, so I’ll probably let mine go, knowing that I still have access to another when the mood strikes me.
When the time comes, I’ll likely get mine visible on this site, but just to put chum in the water, if anyone is looking for a better example of a ’72 than the yellow car above, feel free to start a conversation with me. Mine is bright orange with a black interior (all original paint, no accidents, just door dings). It’s a mostly stock, blue-plate California car, always in NorCal. I’d prefer to sell it locally and keep it that way, but that’s not always possible. Only mods are a “performance” exhaust and a set of color-matched Porsche “Riviera” wheels.
There was a near-twin to my car that sold in October for $17K+ on BaT. That car is in a bit better shape than mine, but it shows where the market is going. Good ones are over $10K now, and great ones are mid- to high-teens. Restored and modified ones can clear the $20K mark. Like most of you, I prefer good, driver-quality cars I can enjoy and use with low stress levels.
I have to admit that I’m no expert (well, I probably don’t have to admit that, it’s obvious in what I wrote above) on Type 3 Volkswagens. I assumed since they had a similar wheelbase and aircooled engine out back that they would be like a Type 14, just a re-skinned Beetle! But, you are indeed correct, the Type 3 had all sorts of improvements to suspension, engine, transmission, subframes – almost a new car. But the best part is that it is approved by Dustin Hoffman. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGdf9ea2olQ
My roommate had one of these in the ’70s. His regular ride, but used it was the roomiest and best mileage for getting to rugby games. We traveled hundreds of miles packed with 6 rugby players and all our gear. And then back after a game or two and no showers. All I remember was the car stank of sweat, cheap Mexican food and farts. Fun times.
I spent the better part of my teenage drinking years running back and forth between a state where you had to be 21 to drink and a state where you could drink at 18.and ids werent checked. Go figure. My friend the driver only had squarebacks in his family. His mom and dad each drove one,, yellow and one tan. Funny the things you remember. As I recall it strained at high revs but I really like the squareback. The two door sedan is even harder to find these days. I know Monza may be sitting on a pot of gold but I just cant see double digits for these. The price is right on this one but with an engine rebuild etc you’d be heading to Monza-land!