The Type 4 Marked the Beginning of the End of the Air-Cooled Volkswagens

Colin
By Colin Wood
Oct 8, 2020 | Volkswagen, Type 4

About 52 years ago this month at the 1968 Paris Motor Show, Volkswagen unveiled a newer, bigger car built to better suit the needs of families: the Type 4.

Based on a new unibody construction, the Type 4—also known as the 411 and, later, as the 412—borrowed its rear-mounted flat-four engine from the Beetle, though enlarged to 1379cc and capable of 76 horsepower and 63 lb.-ft. of torque.

"The big one from Wolfsburg. The new VW 411."

Depending on your specific needs, the Type 4 could be had as a two- or four-door sedan, as well as a wagon that was added later in production.

VW points out, however, that "while the 411 shared much of its DNA with the Beetle, it didn’t benefit from that car’s iconic place in pop-culture or its beloved aesthetic. Initial sales were slow; with production beginning late in 1968, just over 20,000 were sold."

In total, 367,728 copies of the Type 4 were said to have been built, but that number could  be seen as low when compared to the Beetle, which, at the time, was "still being produced at the staggering rate of over one million per year."

In fact, the Type 4 would mark the beginning of the end for the air-cooled, rear-engined VWs, with water-cooled, front-engined cars like the Golf, Passat and Scirocco soon taking its place.

For more information about the Type 4, read the full press release below:

Oct 8, 2020

Herndon, VA — In 1968, the iconic Beetle had been selling by the millions every year, establishing Volkswagen as one of the world’s largest exporter of automobiles. Still, continued success demanded an ever-evolving portfolio, with evolutionary adaptations alongside entirely new platforms. VW looked to the future with the Type 4 (better known as the 411)—a car sprung from the Beetle platform but larger, to better suit families around the world.

Production started in September of 1968, with the 411 offered as a two-door or, in a first for Volkswagen, four-door sedan. In all cases, the 411’s unibody construction was a first for Volkswagen, offering an independent suspension with struts at the front with trailing wishbones and a swing axle in the rear. The 411’s uncommon powertrain layout was borrowed from the Beetle: a rear-mounted horizontally-opposed flat-four engine with twin-carburetors was enlarged to 1679cc, producing 76 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 93 lb-ft of torque at 3,300 rpm, paired to either a four-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmission.

The Type 4 was introduced to the world with a publicity campaign focusing on the vehicle’s size and features. One of the first ads for the car, in bold letters up top, announced "Der Grosße aus Wolfsburg” (the big one from Wolfsburg), with another proclaiming “some things are quite simply the best.” Sales brochures emphasized this idea, highlighting upscale features like draft-free air circulation, a thermostat-controlled auxiliary heat system, and six-way adjustable front seats that were able to fully recline. Built with safety in mind, the 411 had front and rear crumple zones, a padded instrument panel, a collapsible steering column and steering wheel with padded spokes.  Brochures touted the 411’s suspension as being similar to that of the Porsche 911, but with a focus on stability rather than speed.

While the 411 shared much of its DNA with the Beetle, it didn’t benefit from that car’s iconic place in pop-culture or its beloved aesthetic. Initial sales were slow; with production beginning late in 1968, just over 20,000 were sold. More than 48,000 411s were produced in 1969, and a three-door wagon was added to the lineup, but the numbers were still a drop in the bucket compared to the Beetle, which was still being produced at the staggering rate of over one million per year.

In 1970, the introduction of Volkswagen’s K70—precursor to the Passat and other models to follow—ushered in the era of water-cooled, front-engined Volkswagens.  The 411 was exported to America the following year, followed by a model refresh in 1972 renamed the 412, and a higher-output engine in 1973, but it never gained traction. Type 4 production never eclipsed 80,000 units, while the K70 was produced in the hundreds of thousands, and the Beetle maintained a brisk 1.2-million-per-year pace. The last 412s were built in 1974 as the Passat, Scirocco, and Golf emerged as the next generation of Volkswagen mainstays.

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Comments
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Snowdoggie
Snowdoggie HalfDork
10/8/20 1:04 p.m.

Wasn't the Type 4 used in 914s and Buses as well? 

It was also a good swap for dune buggies and VW based kit cars. 

Snowdoggie
Snowdoggie HalfDork
10/8/20 1:18 p.m.

The "Cody Coyote" from Hardcastle and McCormick was the most famous TV car to ever use the Type 4 engine....

 

And most of the 914s are Type 4s...

 

californiamilleghia
californiamilleghia SuperDork
10/8/20 4:20 p.m.

title needs to be "The 411-412 marked......."

The motor kept going to 1979 in VW buses  ( also had 1600cc in many markets) and maybe later other places ......

As far as I know , Type 4 motors were only made in Germany .

iceracer
iceracer MegaDork
10/8/20 5:38 p.m.

There actually were different engines.   The type one  ended at 1600 cc and had the vertical fan.

 The type 2 engine aka Bus was 2000 cc, although some early versions were 1600.  It had the fan on the end of the crankshaft. 

My memory tells me that US 411,s had the type 2 engine.

It's been a long time when I worked for a VW dealer in that time period

02Pilot
02Pilot UltraDork
10/8/20 5:42 p.m.

My parents owned two from new: a green 411 wagon, followed by a gold 412 wagon. Apparently the 411 was dramatically more reliable than the 412. I have little to no recollection, but then I was very young. I would love to get my hands on one of any sort, but ideally a wagon, at some point.

californiamilleghia
californiamilleghia SuperDork
10/8/20 6:19 p.m.
iceracer said:

There actually were different engines.   The type one  ended at 1600 cc and had the vertical fan.

 The type 2 engine aka Bus was 2000 cc, although some early versions were 1600.  It had the fan on the end of the crankshaft. 

My memory tells me that US 411,s had the type 2 engine.

It's been a long time when I worked for a VW dealer in that time period

more info  most probably do not give a pile about , \

Type 4 / 914 engines have basically the same crankcase , 

they came in 1700cc , 1800cc , and 2 liter which was only 1911cc

They also sold a 1600 type 4 that was used in Super V racing , I had a new one in the crate !

USA buses 1972 and later had Type 4 motors , but most of Europe kept the 1600cc bug based motor as gasoline was expensive.

The normal Type one bug motor used the same basic engine case for 1200cc, 1300cc, 1500cc and 1600cc

1200cc was our "40 horse" that started in 1961 thru 1965 in the USA but went up to the 1980s in the Mexican bugs that were sold in Germany , 

1300cc motor used 69mm stroke cranks as did 1500-1600cc , the USA had them in 1966 only but they were sold in Europe later for Countries that taxed cars by engine size ( Italy was one ) , they were even in buses !  (77mm bore)

1500cc motor started in 1962 Type 3  Squarebacks and Notchbacks , and in 1964 -67 buses ,  (83mm bore)

1600s started in 1968 buses and I think 1966 Type 3 Squarebacks and Notchbacks. , and I think 1970 bugs  (85.5 bore)

we could get into cylinder heads but thats as confusing !

I think that is all for now ,  I think I got most of that correct ,  Yes I know too much about VWs , 

Snowdoggie
Snowdoggie HalfDork
10/8/20 6:28 p.m.

In reply to iceracer :

Originally the bus was called the Type 2 as opposed to the beetle that was called the Type 1. 

They also had Type 1, 2 and 3 engines. Then they made the 411s and 412s with bigger engines and called them Type 4s. Type 4s  also went into 4 cylinder 914s. 

In 1972 they started putting Type 4 engines into Type 2 buses. Buses built in 1971 and before had the same Type 1 engines the beetle had. 

 

So you can have a Volkswagen Type 2 (bus) with a Type 4 engine. Confused yet? 

 

bludroptop
bludroptop UltraDork
10/8/20 6:54 p.m.

In reply to californiamilleghia :

Nice summary-well done. 
 

You are correct about US market Type 3 we're twin carb 1600 pancake starting in 1966.  Mom had one from new.

californiamilleghia
californiamilleghia SuperDork
10/8/20 7:11 p.m.
bludroptop said:

In reply to californiamilleghia :
 

You are correct about US market Type 3 we're twin carb 1600 pancake starting in 1966.  Mom had one from new.

type 3 also had a single side draft in the standard model ,

I had a real nice 1963 Notchback standard model  with the side draft  and VERY  low mileage

vwfreek
vwfreek Reader
10/10/20 10:30 p.m.
californiamilleghia said:

title needs to be "The 411-412 marked......."

The motor kept going to 1979 in VW buses  ( also had 1600cc in many markets) and maybe later other places ......

As far as I know , Type 4 motors were only made in Germany .

The Type 4 motor was also available in Vanagons until 1983 and the one year only 1976 Porsche 912E.

I've always wanted a 412, but most of them around here rusted out long ago. My parents had a couple of them in the '80s and they were already rusting apart then.

CyberEric
CyberEric Dork
10/10/20 10:47 p.m.

I’m kind of surprised I’ve never heard of these or seen one in person. I’m 38, so obviously I missed their hay day, but still.

HundredDollarCar
HundredDollarCar New Reader
10/11/20 10:57 a.m.

In reply to Snowdoggie :

Sounds like it needs valves adjusted?  Maybe just cold.

iceracer
iceracer MegaDork
10/11/20 12:36 p.m.

Later type 2's had dual carbs with automatic chokes.

One of the reasons for the demise of the type 1 engine was the interstates.   The engine could not sustain long high speed running.

mad_machine (Forum Supporter)
mad_machine (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/11/20 12:39 p.m.

I've always wanted a 412, but most of them around here rusted out long ago. My parents had a couple of them in the '80s and they were already rusting apart then.

same here.  I wanted a Type 4 squareback in the worst way back in the late 80s when the VW crowd was still sticking their nose up in the air over anything that was not a Type1 or 2

Snowdoggie
Snowdoggie HalfDork
10/11/20 1:14 p.m.
mad_machine (Forum Supporter) said:

I've always wanted a 412, but most of them around here rusted out long ago. My parents had a couple of them in the '80s and they were already rusting apart then.

same here.  I wanted a Type 4 squareback in the worst way back in the late 80s when the VW crowd was still sticking their nose up in the air over anything that was not a Type1 or 2

The beetles and buses are getting expensive so now they are going after squarebacks and fastbacks to restore. Kind of like early 911s and 912s getting expensive so the last aircooled sports cars left are 914s and Karmann Ghias.

buzzboy
buzzboy Dork
10/11/20 1:32 p.m.
Snowdoggie said:

In reply to iceracer :

Originally the bus was called the Type 2 as opposed to the beetle that was called the Type 1. 

They also had Type 1, 2 and 3 engines.

There were only Type 1 and Type 4 engines. The engine in the Type 3 was a a Type 1 engine with a different cooling shroud. The Type 2(Transporter) got a Type 1 or Type 4 engine depending on year.

There's also the number code for the cars. For example, a Thing is a Type 181, the first digit implying it was based off the Type 1 chassis. There was also the Type 34 Ghia implying it was based on the Type 3 chassis unlike the regular Ghia which was a Type 14, based on the Type 1(Beelte) chassis.

 

 

DWNSHFT
DWNSHFT Dork
10/11/20 8:20 p.m.
iceracer said:

One of the reasons for the demise of the type 1 engine was the interstates.   The engine could not sustain long high speed running.

My understanding is that the original Beetle was designed to run at top speed until the tank ran dry.  That was 100 KPH.  The cylinder head flow was maxed out at that speed and the engine would not over-rev (in top gear only, of course.)

buzzboy
buzzboy Dork
10/12/20 7:06 a.m.

My beetle seemed pretty happy going 75 for hours at a time. Only problem was the loud exhaust which fatigued me.

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