Home » Which Face Do You Choose?: Cold Start

Which Face Do You Choose?: Cold Start

Cs K701
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This is kind of a tough choice, but I think it’s important, and important that we figure this out. I have here two Volkswagen K70s, VW’s first front-engined, liquid-cooled car, in its two primary front-end variants: the L version on the left, with its quad round headlamps, and the original K70 look with those big, rectangular headlights. Which do I like better? It’s actually kind of tricky to decide here, which surprises me: usually in these lighting situations, one version just hits me on a gut level, and I just know. This time, I’m really not sure.

I like the quad round lamp look a lot; it’s a classic, and looks great on many cars. But those big rectangular lamps aren’t just rectangular sealed beams, they’re bigger and have a more clear lens and overall have more depth and inner detail. They’re also not set all the way to the outer edges of the grille, which is a strange but interesting choice.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Man, I’m kinda stumped. I keep thinking I’ll choose quad round, but something about the rectangular ones makes me hesitate!

Well, I encourage all of you to take a solid 45 minutes to stare at this page and meditate on it, intently.

Cs K70 2

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While you’re doing that, it’s worth reflecting on the K70, because it’s a really interesting car. The crisp and airy design may feel a bit familiar, and if it does, that’s because you may be sensing the influence of the NSU Ro80, because the VW K70’s not-so-secret secret is that it started life as the NSU K70.

Cs K70 Nsu

The K in K70 stands for kolben, the German word for “piston.” They have a different word for everything, don’t they? Piston is noted to differentiate the car from the Ro in Ro80, which referred to the rotary Wankel engine in that car. This was supposed to be NSU’s little, more conventional sibling to the exotic Ro80. But, before that could really happen, VW bought NSU in 1969, and only about 23 NSU-badged K70s were built.

Cs K70 3

VW made a few tweaks so they could use a few parts-bin parts on the K70 and stuck VW badges on it and sold it from 1970 to 1975, introducing the world to the strange and perverse idea of a front-wheel drive, front-engine VW cooled by strange liquids like “water.” And maybe antifreeze.

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It’s funny looking at VW’s ads and brochures for the K70 because they do note that it’s “different” and unusual, even though by the standards of the rest of the world, this was the “normal” car, and VW’s air-cooled, horizontally-opposed, rear-mounted cars were the weird ones.

The K70 competed with VW’s own Type 4 line, their unibody, premium development of the old Beetle-inspired DNA. The K70 is generally considered a flop, but they did make over 200,000 of them, so it’s not really that much of a flop, because those are decent numbers, just not by ’70s VW standards, I guess.

Even though VW bought NSU, in terms of technical DNA, NSU and Auto Union (bought by VW in 1964) took over VW, and modern VW is really more of an NSU/Auto Union than it is original VW, since all the cars are front engined/FWD and not the core VW rear-engine/air-cooled. Sure, the K70’s longitudinal engine and exciting weirdness like inboard front brakes didn’t define the transverse engine orthodoxy to come, but as VW’s first liquid-cooled, front-driver, it was a fascinating harbinger of what was to come.

But I’m still not sure what face I’d pick.

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Church
Church
4 months ago

more lights = more better. Aesthetically, anyway.

John Beef
John Beef
4 months ago

I picked the quad round because it reminds me of my parents’ ’80 Dasher, which was the biggest piece of junk they ever owned. Still, nostalgia for something 3 year old me rode around in for a bit.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
4 months ago

My answer would be whatever is cheaper, then hide it under plastic doors that blend into the grille, extend that chrome strip all the way across.

Clubwagon Chateau
Clubwagon Chateau
4 months ago

I like the quad rounds, even though I generally feel a little put off by round pegs in square holes. Once Jason mentioned how the rectangular lights were set in from the edges just a bit, I couldn’t look back. I love that.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
4 months ago

I agree with you that it is a tighter decision than I was expecting, but in the end I think the quad round front end is the way to go. The decider for me is that the round headlight front end looks alert and happy, while the square lights make the car look intent and serious. Back when this car was new I might have had a different opinion, but with today’s carscape dominated by overly aggressive styling, the wide-eyed, eager ‘all right, let’s go!’ expression the quad round light facia seems to have appeals to me.

Schrödinger's Catbox
Schrödinger's Catbox
4 months ago

Quad round. The rectangular lamps look to have been swapped into the same space as the quads without changing the grille or stamping/moulding a new part. That would have been costly for a lame duck vehicle that did not sell in large numbers.

The K70 had a reputation for great sightlines and decent build but anemic performance. Those inboard brakes are pretty awesome.

TriangleRAD
TriangleRAD
4 months ago

I’m going to go with the square lights. To my American eyes they evoke a more ’80s aesthetic as opposed to the ’70s feel of the quad rounds. I know the Euros were rocking rectangular and composite lights much earlier than we were.

AssMatt
AssMatt
4 months ago
Reply to  TriangleRAD

Agreed. It’s an angular car, so it should have angular lights. Plus the squares are purposeful, whereas all the moon-eyes look overwhelmed. I want my headlights to peer forward seeking danger; the rounds look like the car caught itself by surprise in a mirror.

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
4 months ago

4 > 2. It’s all about the math.

ChefCJ
ChefCJ
4 months ago
Reply to  Doctor Nine

But it’s a Volkswagen, so that’s just twice as many things to go wrong. On a VW, less will always be more

SlowCarFast
SlowCarFast
4 months ago
Reply to  Doctor Nine

4 > 2.

I know of a Countach replica with an exhaust system you might like.

Last edited 4 months ago by SlowCarFast
ChefCJ
ChefCJ
4 months ago
Reply to  SlowCarFast

It’s at least 12 times better than a regular exhaust I bet

MattyD
MattyD
4 months ago

Did anybody else notice that in the quad the passenger seat is crooked, like it was thrown in there in a hurry and not bolted down? Weird.

Dar Khorse
Dar Khorse
4 months ago
Reply to  MattyD

That must be the “not quite so much luxury” they mentioned in the caption.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
4 months ago

I’m going with quads because if the bad guys start shooting at you, there’s a better chance you’ll have at least one functioning headlight left if you start with four rather than two. This happens to me all the time.

Chronometric
Chronometric
4 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Maybe you would be less of a target in a friendly old VW with square headlights.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
4 months ago

Quad rounds. Neither look bad, but quad rounds simply look better to my eyes.

Chronometric
Chronometric
4 months ago

The 3/4 view of the NSU 70 sold me on the squares. It just looks right.

Otherwise, I’m usually a round guy except when the Euro headlights are bespoke and integrated like a Citroen SM or a BMW 2000 Coupe.

Gilbert Wham
Gilbert Wham
4 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Yep. Squares for me too. It looks more purposeful, somehow

Mike
Mike
4 months ago

Quad rounds. It’s easy. Sometimes square is just wrong (see Jeep YJ).

IRegertNothing, Esq.
IRegertNothing, Esq.
4 months ago

My immediate reaction was quad rounds because quad rounds, but I honestly think the rectangular headlights work better with this car. They look like they belong there more. If the round headlights were bigger and fit the space better I would have gone with them.

Gregg Bond
Gregg Bond
4 months ago

+1 for the exact same reasons.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
4 months ago
Reply to  Gregg Bond

I ditto your ditto.

DialMforMiata
DialMforMiata
4 months ago

Begrudgingly I’m going with the quad rounds, but only on the VW version as they complement the VW badge. It’s hard to go wrong on such a handsome little car, though.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
4 months ago

I dunno what it is, but the squares do it for me. I’m not saying the quad rounds are bad, but I like the squares.

LuzifersLicht
LuzifersLicht
4 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

+1 for the square lights. I feel like they have a better balance between headlights and grille and just look kind of clean and neat compared to the quads.

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
4 months ago

I own 5 cars with round headlights, so I guess I’m a ’round man’, but in this case the car is so rectangular itself in it’s styling, that I would go with the square ones!

John Crouch
John Crouch
4 months ago

Quads for me. Shades of my 1972 Datsun 510.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
4 months ago
Reply to  John Crouch

That’s why I went round as well.
And the rectangular ones somehow suggest a Holden—which I did not grow up with, so it’s a bit alien.

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
4 months ago

Took 1 second to look and pick the quads.

Flyingstitch
Flyingstitch
4 months ago

I would normally go for the quads, but I like them recessed just a little more under the leading edge of the hood. These look kind of bulgy and anxious. I vote square by a hair.

A. Barth
A. Barth
4 months ago

Two headlights, both alike in dignity, in fair Autopia where we lay our scene.
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.

Dar Khorse
Dar Khorse
4 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

Nice! You are hereafter to be known as A. Bard.

A. Barth
A. Barth
4 months ago
Reply to  Dar Khorse

Thank you! Ol’ Will might haunt you for that, but I appreciate it. 🙂

Gilbert Wham
Gilbert Wham
4 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

Superb. No notes

A. Barth
A. Barth
4 months ago
Reply to  Gilbert Wham

Thanks! 🙂

Buzz
Buzz
4 months ago

Quad rounds!

Dar Khorse
Dar Khorse
4 months ago

We need a poll!
Quad rounds all day long. They provide a nice contrast to the rectangular snout and look friendlier overall. Also, there’s always just something attractive about quad lamps. I bet the quad rounds will win by a 2:1 margin. Then Adrian will step in and tell us that we’re wrong. 🙂

Mr. Asa
Mr. Asa
4 months ago

The quad headlights are the clear winner. However, they hide a dark secret that many may overlook. They come with an ugly ass bumper.

Give me the quads with the bumper from the squares.

Mr. Frick
Mr. Frick
4 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Asa

Good call

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
4 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Frick

Yes, a good call, but I am removing it from either car regardless.

Cool Dave
Cool Dave
4 months ago

While I typically would prefer the round lights I think the rectangular setup suits the rest of the car better.

05LGT
05LGT
4 months ago
Reply to  Cool Dave

Thanks for saving me the typing.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
4 months ago
Reply to  Cool Dave

And it’s how NSU intended it!

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