The Volkswagen Type 3 was an automobile introduced in 1961 to diversify VW's product range beyond the Type 1 (Beetle) and the Type 2 (Bus). The Type 3, officially the Volkswagen 1500, was designed to allow Volkswagen to make a more sophisticated car while maintaining much of the engineering from the Type 1.
The Type 3 was equipped with a 1.5 L (1498 cc) engine based on the aircooled flat-4 found in the Type 1. While the long block remained the same as the Type 1, the engine cooling was drastically changed to allow for a much lower engine profile. This resulted in increased area for cargo stowage and the so-called 'Pancake' or 'Suitcase' engine. This engine's displacement would later increase.
Originally a single or dual carbureted 1.5 liter engine, (1500 N, 45 hp or 1500S, 54 hp) the Type 3 engine got a larger displacement (1.6l 1600 cc) and modified in 1968 to include fuel injection, making it one of the first mass production consumer cars with such a feature (the first was the Type 4 VW 411).
The type 4 had three models:
- Sedan - or "fastback"(Fastback the VW 1500 and later VW 1600 (nicknamed "Zé do Caixão" in Brazil translating to "Coffin Joe"),
- Hatchback - or "notchback" the VW 1500 TL and later 1600 TL (in Brazil the Volkswagen TL),
- Wagon or "squareback" (Volkswagen Variant).
The Variant had success in this market and even a more modern design successor with square corners, the Variant II, which nevertheless had mechanical problems and was ultimately a failure in the market against more modern designs such as the Renault 12-derived Ford Corcel II Belina.