1971 VOLKSWAGEN Type 3 VariantView vehicle description
Estate cars have always been popular with folk who appreciate space and practicality. If it's taking the kids to school, the dogs to the park or that old armchair to the recycling centre, you can’t beat a load hauling wagon. Even better is a classic estate, which means you can look cool whilst doing these chores. Which leads us to this very retro and very cool 1971 Volkswagen Type 3 Variant.
Launched in 1961 at the Frankfurt Motorshow, the Volkswagen Type 3 was a compact family car that was based on the tried and trusted running gear of the Beetle. Debuting as the VW 1500, the Type 3 featured a 3 box body design which was fitted to a separate chassis. It was produced until 1973 and in that time numerous body styles were offered, including a Fastback Sedan and the estate which was known as the Variant.
This particular example is a 1971 Volkswagen Type 3 Variant that was built for the Australian market. It was sold new in Sydney and spent much of its life in Canberra and is believed to be a one owner car, but there is no paperwork to prove this. It was imported to the UK by a VW specialist based in Exeter, when it was purchased in 2007 by the current owner and seller James. A fan of classic air-cooled Volkwagen’s, James wanted a rust free Type 3 Variant and jumped at the chance to acquire one from the more forgiving climate of Australia.
On the Outside
When James acquired the car in 2007, he embarked on a restoration, which found it was very much rust free as a result of living most of its life down under. There was the exception of some pins holes in the rear pillar, which was replaced with fresh metal. However, thanks to living in the hot Australian sun, the paint had suffered and the decision was made to repaint it in its original and rare colour scheme of Shantung Yellow. The VW estate was stripped down and all external panels removed and repainted.
The Type 3 Variant looks very sharp indeed in its yellow paint and wears its original steel wheels, which means it is unmodified and retains its stock look. James states that the paint is in good condition with some minor marks and imperfections as you would expect for an older repaint.
During the restoration, all of the Type 3’s window rubbers were replaced with new items as the originals were perished and cracked from all those years in the sun.
The chrome trim presents very well with some minor marks on the bumpers, which could be rechromed to make them absolutely perfect, but they shine up very well according to the seller.
The front indicator lenses were sun damaged and were replaced with 2nd hand ones and the front headlights have been replaced and upgraded to H4 bulbs. The rear indicator lenses are actually the original ones that came with the car and James has modified them to include a reverse light bulb, which is a useful upgrade.
James notes that the original drivers side chrome wing mirror was loose and a bit broken when he got the car, so he replaced both sides with new ones. The original chrome passenger side wing mirror comes with the car.
He also adds that the cars tyres were newly fitted when he restored it and while they have good thread and have had little use, he recommends replacing them due to their age.
On the Inside
As you might expect, the original interior of the Type 3 Variant was damaged by years of exposure to the Australian sun. So when James got the car he fitted new vinyl seat covers as the originals were faded, torn and beyond repair. The seats stripped down and the frames cleaned and repainted while they were out of the car.
He also picked up a new carpet at a car show, which was an off the peg kit for the Type 3. He states that it looks good but the fit isn’t quite 100% so the new owner may want to neaten it in a few areas.
The dash pad is original and James believes it is an early type. It does have some cracks with the holes around the speakers but the rest is very good and has survived the climate down under very well. The radio is also original to the car and works and a new aerial was fitted by the seller.
The steering wheel was also cracked and sun damaged and that was restored and it still looks great today.
James also replaced the clock in the dash with one that actually works and he states that it does keep time.
Seat belts were also installed for added safety and they are the 3 point front and rear chrome buckle type.
One nice touch is the headliner which is original to the car and has survived very well. The front door cards were also replaced during the restoration but some of the card panels in the rear load area are originals which didn’t need replacing. James confirms that the Type 3 still has that old VW interior smell and he is pleased it hasn’t lost that character.
As this is an air-cooled VW, the 1600 engine is of course at the back and resides under the floor in the boot. When James got the car in 2007 one of the first items he attended to was the engine, which was stripped down and rebuilt. The crank case was align bored, new shells were installed, the crank was polished and new gudgeon pins were fitted. He adds that the conrods are the original ones. A new clutch was also installed during the rebuild. Many of the receipts for the work were unfortunately misplaced but the file does have a receipt for the crank work.
He says "The only receipt I believe I have for the engine work is for a camshaft . As well as the work stated in your listing the cylinder heads, barrels and pistons were also replaced with new items during the rebuild process. The front pads and discs were replaced fairly recently when the calipers were replaced and these were built up with new bearings."
He states that the engine runs well and has been treated to a recent oil change and a new fuel filter. The twin carbs don’t have a choke and James says that they do take a little time to warm up, but once up to temperature they idle well. He adds that it sounds and drives as a Type 3 air-cooled engine should.
The gearbox is of course a 4 speed manual. It does have a whine in 4th gear and the gear linkage is a little sloppy. James states that when coming to a stop in 4th gear, it can be hard to get the car out of gear. However, this can be driven around by shifting down the gears as you slow down.
The rear drive shafts have been replaced but the originals come with the car. The front bearings were also replaced during his ownership and new front calipers were also fitted. The rest of the suspension is stock and has been regularly greased and the original shocks that were fitted to the car on arrival from Australia are still installed. James adds that the right height is correct and the car doesn’t wallow or sag.
Since he bought the Type 3 Variant in 2007, James states it has spent roughly 10 years off the road and about 3/4 years on the road. The cars mileage of over 74,400 miles is possibly genuine and he felt that the condition of the car when he got it suggested it was. But unfortunately no history was passed on from Australia. However it does come with one of the original Australian number plates and the rear hatch glass still has the original dealer sticker from Sydney which is a really nice touch.
Originality was something that attracted James to this car and when he started the restoration, he wanted to preserve as much of the cars original details. For example the boot and engine bay area still has its original paint and stickers which is really nice to see.
Another nice detail is the fact that the Type 3’s Shantung Yellow was only available for one year, making it quite rare indeed.
What We Think
It is actually quite refreshing to find an original and unmodified Volkswagen Type 3 Variant, especially one that hasn’t been slammed or put on banded wheels. We think the seller did the right thing in preserving as much of this cars character as possible. The Type 3 is a rare sight here in the UK, with many UK market cars long gone simply because they rusted away. And with this one being an Australian market car with a one year only colour scheme, it is certainly going to turn heads. The example James is selling has had a lot of the hard work done and now just needs the next owner to sort a few details to take it to the next level. With an estimate of between £10,000 - £15,000 we think this is a lot of retro and practical cool for the money.
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If needed, Footman James classic car insurance and Classic Concierge offer storage options plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping.
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- Location: The Market HQ, Abingdon, United Kingdom
- Seller Type: Private
- Odometer Reading: 74443
- Chassis Number: 3612220366
- Engine: 1600
- Gearbox: manual
- Steering position: RHD
- Colour: Shantung Yellow
- Interior: Brown basket weave vinyl
- Estimated Price: £10,000 - £15,000