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TYPE III FEVER
Story by Lois Grace


What is happening to me?  The older I get the more I end up amazing myself.  First it was Vernon's restoration ('A TRUCK?' they said. 'Why do you want to do that?'), then the GTi came home with me (after I'd said that nothing VW made with a radiator would ever interest me).  Now, I find myself longing for another project, another challenge, another goal.  But not just ANY goal:  I want a Type III. I want a Fastback or Squareback.  (My longing hasn't narrowed itself down to just one yet)

I don't understand this:  when I bought the GTi it seemed like a normal, sane thing to do.  I wanted to save my '69 Bug from the perils of traffic here in California, and I wanted something with a bit more punch.  It didn't hurt that the car was brilliant red, had A/C, and more horsepower than all three of my air-cooled VW's put together.   It was a natural purchase - since I am not planning on ever being middle aged (I plan to go right from the bloom of youth to incredible old age, like redwood trees, cheese, and fine wine), I couldn't even call it a Mid-life Crisis. It just WAS. But this sudden urge for the much-maligned Fastback (or Square, don't forget) has taken me by surprise.

It all started innocently enough.  I was driving to work and a white Fastback pulled out in front of me, being driven by one of those baseball-hat-backwards Teenage Persons.  The car looked original (in other words, not waxed or necessarily painted) and lowered, and had a huge stinger out the back end. And, catching a glimpse of that car and its stinger, I was in love again.  Why? I have no idea, who knows why these things happen?  It bleated noisily off into the distance ahead of me while my mind wandered.  My chance encounter with the Fastback had jerked some long-forgotten, primal memory back into my brain.  I had always had a soft spot for these two models but when the time came for a VW of my own, I thought a Bug would be a more practical purchase.  So I bought Bogie, my '69 Beetle and put my Type III dreams away.  The years in between then and now were filled with single cab restorations, Beetle convertible restorations, engine rebuilds, valve jobs, and Saab maintenance.  There just wasn't a lot of time left over for nourishing secret dreams.  But the white Fastback with the stinger awakened them all.

I have always thought of the Type III as the 'forgotten child' in the VW family.  It seemed to me that these cars just appeared on the scene when new, and then when no one bought them they faded gently away, never to reach true collectible status among the VW hobbyists.  They were driven by little old ladies with blue hair (who had bought them new), or Teenage Types similar to the one I had seen that day (because they were cheap to buy).  Just exactly why they weren't that popular remains a mystery to many others and me:  they seem so practical.  Who wouldn't love a tiny station wagon?  OK, if you are snorting over that, who wouldn't love a sporty-looking little fastback?  Maybe it was the flattened 'pancake engine' or the fact that this car looked nothing like the beloved Beetle who had taken the world by storm.  It was also not as spacious as the venerable Kombi or Deluxe Bus, so those who wanted room passed the Type III over when shopping for a new family car. Who knows?  But they hold a special place with me, in large part because no one else seems to want them.

I had always been a bit guilty about wanting a Type III.  I think it had to do with the fact that it was hard to admit that I really wanted something no one else did.  But I'm beyond that now.  When my GTi arrived it opened new vistas for me.  It wasn't air-cooled, but that was all right!  It had air conditioning, but that was OK too!  And, I could actually feel OK about wanting a Type III!  I didn't have to make excuses any more.  'JUST DO IT', screamed my Brain. So, just for fun, I found one in our paper here for what I considered a very reasonable price.  In fact, the seller's asking price was less than one of the last repairs I had done on my Saab.  Gee, that's strange:  Type III owners don't seem to think their cars are worth very much.  There was still the very sticky question of getting my idea past The Boss.  I very hesitantly threw the idea out to my better half, Rob, one evening:

ME: 'Dear, wouldn't it be fun to hear the pitter-patter of little radials on the driveway again?'

HIM: 'HUH?'

ME (pressing on): 'I said, I need something to do. It's been a whole year since I bought the GTi, and...'

HIM (glaring): 'OH NO. You ARE kidding, right?'

ME: 'Kidding?  No, I wouldn't joke about something like this. I'm serious! Listen to this ad...'

HIM (with hands over his ears): 'BLAH BLAH BLAH!! I CAN'T HEAR YOU, NAH NAH.  CAN'T HEAR YOU, BLAH BLAH BLAH!'

And it went on for a bit like this. Once I actually  got him to hear what I wanted, he did what I expected him to do:  he gave me that OH MY GOSH SHE'S DOING IT AGAIN look.

Never mind that I don't know a thing about Type III's, not even what years they were made!  But I didn't know much about convertibles either when I bought Oscar. Being the vintage enthusiast I am (and having a late model VW to play with when I get crazy), I would probably try to find an early Type III, not the later versions.  Didn't these cars morph into that 411 somewhere down the line?  Don't Type III's have that notorious 'pancake engine' - hard to work on and known for overheating due to its poor air circulation?  Don't you think I should know a little bit MORE about these things if I'm going to lust after one?  I have since been enlightened about Type III's, courtesy of fellow VVWCA club member Larry Edson.  I found out that the early Type III's were blessed with carburetors (I did know that I didn't want to have to deal with the infamous fuel injection), and that disk brakes were standard on most Type III's.  While I have a long way to go to even be slightly knowledgeable about these cars, this is a start.  I no longer feel guilty about liking them either.   I think it's because I always seem to be hooked on something a bit 'offbeat'.   I've always wanted what others didn't  - and if you talk to any VW fan, they will probably tell you that the Type III is low on their list, unless of course you were giving away a Notchback (sold only in Canada and Europe), which, for some reason, is a Type III that everyone wants.  I also have no problem in being 'different' and don't much enjoy going along with the crowd.  I'm sure I get this from being my father's daughter:  Dad sure loved the oddball vehicles (when we were kids he'd buy 'different' cars, just because he'd 'never had one').  After all, it was my dad that bought Vernon instead of a 'normal-looking' pickup!

What surprised me about wanting one of these for myself was the fact that I can now actually visualize it happening.  I think it's great, but Rob is doing what he usually does when I tell him about these fantasies of mine:  he's wishing I'd just visualize owning a Ferrari 599 GTO instead.

VolksWoman

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