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1973 Volkswagen 412: Black Sheep


When most folks think of air-cooled VWs, the Beetle and Bus come quickly to mind. But there’s also the Type 4, or 412, that sported distinctive looks that unfortunately, didn’t catch fire in the U.S. market. This example is non-running but in decent shape otherwise, listed here on eBay for $2,500. The Type 4 introduced unibody construction, coil springs, trailing wishbone rear suspension, hydraulic clutch manual transmission, making it a feature-packed economy car. The seller notes that this example remains largely original, complete with the owner’s manual and notebook charting fuel fill-ups and oil changes included as well. This level of attention to detail makes me think this 412 at one time was loved enough to keep it operational, so hopefully whatever fix it needs is minor. Remember – the engine is in the back!


  1. Avatar photo JohnT

    What do you mean they didn’t catch fire in the USA. I saw several that caught fire, usually when the D-Jetronic cold start injector dumped fuel all over the engine…..

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  2. Avatar photo Mark E

    Did not catch on is an understatement. The last one I remember seeing is in college where the dorm mom had one. This was in ’75-76!

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  3. Avatar photo JW454

    I like these. I wouldn’t mind adding it to my driveway. I also like the record keeping history however, something seems to be amiss with these figures. In the 3 months shown in the booklet, the car traveled only 242 miles but yet consumed 85.8 gallons of fuel. That works out to 2.8 miles per gallon. It should be 10 times that. Even with that fuel costing between 62 to 73 cents per gallon, it would still be a costly car to drive. LOL

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  4. Avatar photo Will

    I bought a gold 1973 412 wagon in Tucson in 1982. They didn’t catch on in the U.S. I believe because they were not as you say. “an economy car” they were VWs first attempt at an upscale car. It was not cheap and Americans could not fathom an expensive VW. The fuel injection was poor . Mine came with a carburetor conversion done by the previous owner. It had a small plastic box over the carb inside the cabin , as it didn’t fit below the load bed in the back. The box acted like a speaker inside the passenger compartment. It sounded completely bad ass inside the car. I could totally silence my, now ex, wife with just a little pressure on my right foot. Outside it sounded normal. I drove that car to Florida and shipped it to England where I drove it till the trans went out. On the way to Florida somewhere in Texas it developed an oil leak in the oil fill neck. The oil fill was inside the lift gate and could be accessed without opening up the engine compartment. I had to add a quart every hundred miles the rest of the way. That was the cleanest engine ever by the time we got there. A complete oil change every 400 miles for 2500 miles. I have been looking for another one for years. I have never found one during a time I had the cash to make a deal happen. I would only want the wagon version. The sedans just don’t look right to me. Great cars though. I also loved the gas powered cabin heater. Just click the knob on the dash and go back in the house. without starting the engine the entire car was defrosted in just a few minutes. I heard at the time that most of them didn’t work. Mine was great.

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  5. Avatar photo shiro1303 Member

    These were great driving cars only comparable to the type 3 which was miles ahead of the beetle and bus. I had two 1974 412 wagons in highschool first one rotted out from under me (New England is not nice to cars in the winter) however the replacement was picked up off the back lot of our local ford dealer who took it as trade in and didn’t know what to do with it got it for $500 in 1985 needed the brakes adjusted but other than that was a fun car even with an automatic.
    This seems to be a good one looks like someone was messing with the engine and the D-Jet was and still is a fairly easy system to get right a lot of European brands used it and you can still get parts or even upgrade with a megasuirt or similar. Would like to get my hands on one but they were never sold in Japan like the type 1, 2 and 3 and when they do show up they are pricey

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  6. Avatar photo Joe Howell

    Wow, a two door. Most were 4 doors or wagons. They were expensive cars back then. I worked at a VW dealership while going to school and remember these well. A new one fell off the lift during an oil change as the owner watched. The computer (brain box as we called them) for these and Type 3 models were jaw dropping expensive to replace.

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  7. Avatar photo Gary

    Have a rebuildable motor from ’71? Also a ’72? 914-4; should anyone have the need for speed? Right!

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  8. Avatar photo Gary

    Have a rebuildable motor from a ’71?
    Also a ” ” ” a ’72? 914-4; should anyone have the need for speed? Right!

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  9. Avatar photo krash

    Does anyone know what the 412 model designation signified?.

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    • Avatar photo Andy Frobig

      The 4 was for the chassis family: 1 was for the Beetle, Super Beetle, Thing and original Karmann Ghia, 2 was for all the variants of the Microbus, or Transporter, 3 was for the various Type 3 cars–Notchback, Fastback, Squareback and Type 3 Karmann Ghia, and 4 was for the 411 and 412. Each air cooled VW model had a 3-digit designation that set it apart from its chassis mates, but the 411 and 412 were the only ones marketed by this number rather than by a name.

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