Air-cooled-era Volkswagen was a company that revolved around a strange contradiction: it built cars that were fundamentally different from most other carmakers, but they were surprisingly conservative, technically. Any change to their core products was incremental and carefully considered. I think VW’s unwillingness to try radical changes prevented them from making what could have been one of the most important and beneficial changes to the iconic Beetle. Too bad I’m 50 years too late for this to matter at all. Sure, it doesn’t matter now at all, but just on the off chance one of you out there is on the brink of a time-travel breakthrough or perhaps this is being read by someone fiddling with the knobs on the Large Hadron Collider, here’s my point: the Volkswagen Beetle should have become a hatchback around, oh, 1966 or so. The more I think about this the more I wonder why Volkswagen never seemed to consider this idea at all, as far as I can tell. I’ve yet to see a prototype or even a drawing that’s close to what I’m suggesting, which is strange because VW actually was already producing just about everything they’d need to make it actually happen. In fact, Volkswagen was producing three cars in this era that had, essentially, the same sort of rear-engined hatchback design that I’m suggesting: the Type 2 Microbus, the Type 3 Squareback, and (in low volumes, admittedly) the Type 147 Fridolin. Not only did they already have the technical solution, there… [Read full story]
Jalopnik is a news and opinion website about cars, the automotive industry, racing, transportation, airplanes, technology, motorcycles and much more. We aim to cover these things with an honesty, transparency and cheerful belligerence that can’t be found anywhere else.