If something never actually happened, and you never actually encountered it, is that something you can miss? Perhaps because that something just seemed like something that should have existed, to the point where your mind is able to easily just fill it into memories where it never even was? I feel that way about the Volkswagen Type 3 convertible. It never actually happened. It came close, though, with about 10 prototypes built and even brochures printed up, but at the last minute it was nixed, never to make it to production. One was kept and daily driven by Johannes Beeskow, the manager of the technical research department at Karmann, which is a pretty badass move and one of the biggest job perks of working at a place that builds prototype cars, if you ask me.
The Type 3 convertible was a pretty straightforward adaptation of the Type 3 Notchback, the sedan variant of the three main Type 3s – Notchback (sedan), Variant (wagon), and Fastback (you know, sloping rear). There was the Type 3 Ghia, too, but that had an entirely different body than the rest of the Type 3 lineup.
I suppose VW thought that having a lavish two convertibles in one family of cars would just be too decadent, since they planned a convertible version of the Type 3 Ghia, too. But guess what! They backed out of that one, too, for some reason, and as a result, their fancier-tier line of cars over the Beetle and other Type 1 VWs would have no convertibles at all, and perhaps there’s a lesson about being so indecisive that you end up doing nothing at all.
Hell, with Type 1s you could have a four seat Beetle convertible or a 2+2 Karmann-Ghia convertible, if you wanted. The Type 3 could have had that as well, with the Type 3 convertible being capable of holding five, if those three people in the back were super into each other, which, in my mind, they definitely are.
These are such tidy and prim little cars, and I think they’d have been such charming and fun convertibles to have. No sporty pretensions it couldn’t back up, just a practical (remember, these had two trunks, one at each end!) and friendly little car that let you enjoy the sun and the world.
Hey, look at this, a video of one of the prototypes!
There seems to be two surviving of the original 10 cars, one of which VW Classic has restored, and is the one you saw up top. Maybe one day they’ll let me drive it? I’ll ask, if they’re not too pissed about the window switch thing.
My dream car is and always will be a Cadillac Sixteen.
A really effective way of venting out the exhaust gasses from the cabin 😀
Besides from that it’s rather lumpy looking. But so were the notchback and the fastback (The squareback is the only good looking one in my eyes), so I guess it would have been OK.
I personally miss the Turbot II from Spirou et Fantasio
There are a few T3 convertibles out there crafted by their owners. There are even some with well crafted convertible tops too. Hats off to those craftspeople.
And in my opinion, some of them equal the original prototypes as they were. But, the shown resto did not do the same justice. Impressive none the less though.
This is the platonic ideal of the car I wanted when I was searching for a classic drop top to daily. Not fast, or even especially sporty, but something a bit eccentric but pleasant to live with, creating a sort of generally life-enhancing experience that brightened people’s days. What I ended up with was a convertible Cold-War Saab, which has certainly fit the brief, but what I *truly* wanted was a Type III (maybe with an N/A Impreza engine swap).
This little buzz bomb would’ve been the preferred ride of college professors and high school teachers everywhere.
I’d like that Type 4 sedan with an opening rear window myself. Gosh, that’d make fetching stuff from the rear shelf so much easier.
You can. I miss the original Air Cooled VW Type 2 Syncro.
I also miss the VW Schwimmwagen but an alternate history one where production continued after the war and they were sold to Resorts in bright colors like the Acapulco Things.
Missing something that never was is easier than hitting something that never was.
Wow! I had no idea they built these. Very cool!
It is the distant relative of the Eos.
Oh my what we’ve missed
In my mind I’ve ginned up a two door convertible version of the first generation Chrysler Valiant / Lancer.
With the top up it’s giving me Nissan Figaro vibes
The best convertible that did exist in the category of tidy and prim was the Triumph Herald which was almost nonexistent on American roads:
Yet a friends dad had one. Along with a few Isetta’s. He was also a pilot.
I have 5 friends with Heralds (and Sports6/Vitesse) here in the US. They even drive them.
Had a friend with one turned out to be a coupe that had the parts bolted on the thing wiggled like a fishing lure
You miss it more when it never was. If Everett’s “Many Worlds” theory is to be believed, there is an interwoven alternate reality in which my first car was a green Smart ForFour rebadged Nissan Micra. I may or may not have hotdog hands in that universe.
It looks like Lt. Columbo’s car.
Just one more thing…
They should have made these…looks like such a fun car
You can definitely miss something that never was. There are so many awesome wagons available in the European market that never make it to North America. They won’t sell enough of them here because we value sitting up higher over driving dynamics. So it makes me sad that we can’t get them, but at the same time I know the manufacturers have good reasons not to bother.
We value sitting up higher and then the first thing enthusiasts do is bag and drop them
The silly thing about sitting up higher is that once everyone is doing it, you aren’t.
The perplexing thing is that the Notchback and Squareback really should’ve been 4-doors. Especially since the Squareback had an extra pillar where there’d be one on a four-door wagon anyway.
Wow, a convertible top with a window that has such compound curves? How common is that? Seems like most such windows tend to be flat or at least flattish?
That’s what I was going to ask about. It looks an awful lot like glass, which leads to more questions.
It is glass! VW always used glass rear windows in convertibles.
Yeah, as you probably already know, VW would proudly tout that in their advertising, oh so fancy! And also they would brag about how Rolls-Royce’s convertible tops would ‘balloon’ at highway speeds but Beetle convertible tops never did so (which must’ve rankled the folks at RR…)
I mean, the window switch thing is understandable Torch. Car reviewers are infamous for *hating* nonstandard ergonomics, a side effect of driving a different car every week.
You’re a classic case of it, being in a life situation fraught with the very real possibility of accidentally turning on the wipers on a sunny day in front of a carload of 12-year-old boys one of whom was kvelling moments before about his dad the car expert.