Low Mileage Survivor: 1968 VW Squareback

Now, this brings back memories. Back in the 70s, I knew a guy with longish hair who loved his VW Beetle and all of the counterculture stuff that driving one stood for. But when he and the wife had their first baby and needed more cargo space, the solution was simple: trade in the Beetle for a VW Squareback; a roomier, more practical “counterculturemobile.” Here’s a rare survivor for sale with 65,862 miles on the odometer and, based on the 24 photographs the seller shares, it appears to be in solid condition. There’s not much history given other than it’s just out of “lengthy storage.” This Rip Van Winkle Squareback is located in Henniker, New Hampshire and is for sale here on eBay. Bidding has been brisk with 46 bids pushing the price up to $8,010 as of this writing, but the reserve had not been met.

Volkswagen’s Type 3 series was introduced in 1961 to complement their existing Beetle, Karmann Ghia, and Bus lineup. Although three body styles were available, including a Notchback, only the Squareback and Fastback models were imported and sold in America starting with the 1966 models. The Type 3’s were marketed as more “family-friendly” and more stylish than the super-successful Beetle, with slab sides and increased passenger space, luggage space, and larger 1600-cc engines. The Cobalt Blue paint (a color that replaced VW Blue in August of ’68) appears to be original and looks pretty decent except for some fading on the hood. The trim and glass also look good and the seller states that “all body panels including floor pan appear to be original and rust-free. There is rust on the bumpers as can be seen in the pictures.” Plus, check out that “luggage” rack on the top that would be appropriate for skis, kayaks, Aunt Edna, or whatever.

Inside, the original interior looks to be in well-above-average condition considering the seats, door, and cargo panels are in Cream White and 53 years old. The highback front seats look like they could stand a cleaning, but I couldn’t spot any rips or tears. There aren’t any photos of the backbench seat but one could probably assume it’s in good shape as well. The black dash looks great and houses a radio, clock, fuel gauge, and a 100-mph speedometer and the 68s still had the cool, old-school VW steering wheel.

The Squareback has 6.5-cubic feet of storage under the front hood, plus 24.7-cubic feet of storage in the cargo area (which increases to an impressive 42.4-cubic feet with the rear bench seat folded flat). The rubber mat is stained and the weatherstripping has seen better days, but the white side panels aren’t beat up and there’s no rust in sight.

The clean-looking 1600-cc four-cylinder air-cooled engine, engineered to be horizontal and to fit in an insulated compartment, is cleverly housed under a panel in the cargo floor. This rear-wheel-drive Squareback is also equipped with a four-speed manual transmission (which many would prefer over the optional automatic transmission). And although the 1968 models came from the factory with electronic fuel injection, the seller shares that an “empi carb kit was just installed and the original fuel injection components that were removed are included with the car.” 

Yes, Beetles and Buses (and Ghia’s) get most of the spotlight these days, but these Type 3’s make a great alternative collectible. They’re cool, rather modern looking, still have that ’60s VW mojo, and are reasonably priced cars. And kinda rare. Although 2.6 million Type 3’s were produced in their 12-year run, only 600,000 1966-1973 Type 3’s were imported and sold in the U.S. And 50+ years later, you just don’t see many original low-mileage survivors like this one.

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Comments

  1. alphasud Member

    Compared to the Beetle these didn’t hold up to salted roads in the northeast. I still remember the first time I worked on one at my first automotive shop. The owner handed me a fire extinguisher and gave me strict instructions to immediately push the car outside if it caught fire. We used to get them in the shop only to find just about every rubber fuel line to the injectors was a ticking time bomb. I’m amazed more didn’t burn. Time consuming process to cut the fuel line crimps and install all new rubber hoses. That being said I’m sure that was one of the reasons for the carb conversion. Neat car though and I’m surprised is survived New Hampshire all these years.

    Like 1
    • alphasud Member

      I just looked that the picture of the engine compartment. This engine is missing all of its cooling tin with exposed cylinders and the oil cooler just hanging out in the open! Don’t drive this car until that gets fixed!

      Like 17
      • DavidC

        Wow you are correct! That thing is destined for a melt down without the cooling tins. I would say that the engine is probably toast already.

        Like 2
    • doone

      i had a 66 a 67 and a 70 fast back the 70 was the best of the bunch. Also had a 64 and a 66 squareback. The 66 burned when it spit out a spark plug and the gas caught fire. By the time the FD got there it was ash. Hated that car.

      Like 1
      • David Frank

        YIKES! Good spot! If it was run like that the cylinder bores are likely scored. I have all five of these square backs and loved everyone. As for rust, I recently sold a 1972 Squareback that was also parked years. It was a California car that looked pristine. There was not a sign of rust on the bottom, in the spare tire well or anywhere else you would think likely. Unfortunately the new owner still found lots of rust. Unfortunately this car between the engine and rust is likely to be a disaster.

    • Fordfan

      I bought a 71 fastback used in 1975 at a v w dealer
      Parked it at work and noticed gas leaking under the engine
      Brought it back and they replaced the cloth covered rubber fuel lines
      No power lousy heater had to disconnect the battery overnight or it would kill the battery. Easy i just lifted the back seat and un hooked the negative terminal

    • Jim Williams

      The biggest problem with these was the plastic (Nylon?) spacers at the intake ports. They cracked, leaked fuel, and then caught fire. Probably why you don’t see more of them on the road…

  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    These are good, solid cars. Owned two notchbacks and loved both of them. The front and rear trunks would hold a huge amount of whatever you wanted to put in them. It was easy to over load the wagons with all that space back there. Nice to see one in good condition.

    Like 2
    • Dickie F.

      Had a worn notchback, back in 75.
      Paid $10 for a running car.
      Only problem was a slow starter, a problem quickly fixed by hot wiring from the battery to the ignition.
      I drove it reliably for a year and then sold it for $15.

      Like 2
  3. bobhess bobhess Member

    Good catch Alphasud.

    Like 2
  4. That Guy

    I briefly owned a Squareback and a Fastback which I bought from a neighbor as non-runners. I had too many projects at the time and ended up reselling them. I did get the Fastback running and drove it around a little bit. It had the rather rare automatic transmission, and it was surprisingly peppy in around-town driving. I liked the driving dynamics and would have kept it if it didn’t need significant body work after having been apparently sandwiched in a multi-car fender bender sometime in the past.

    As always, I sold them too soon. I think both would be worth a lot more today than they were ten years ago when I sold them both for $500 each or so.

    Like 1
  5. Steve Weiman

    Perfect example of what I love to find here. Like most car guys I have a list in my head of the stuff I have loved for a lifetime, but then something like this comes along….. I remember these wagons as a pretty common site as a kid. Probably even rode in a couple. loved the quality of VWs of this era. While I never would’ve considered it before this barn find appeared , This article puts it on my radar. My guess is: if I could find a quality original car to start with the current aftermarket could address the list of shortcomings easily. Maybe somebody can comment on that?

    Like 3
  6. Fred W

    In the 70’s I had a ’63 “Notchback”, the rarest version of this platform (looks like a sedan). All back then were carbureted. Had fun fooling people who wanted to know where the engine was. Popped the trunk in front, no engine. Popped the trunk in back, no engine. You had to lift the cover to find it.

    Like 7
  7. Howard A Member

    I always thought this was the nicest , most practical VW for the time. Too bad it always lived in the shadow of the Bug, and saw very few. Funny how people sterotype a car, and when someone said VW, a Bug was what came to mind. If I remember, these were mostly city cars, and ran hot, puking the motor. It’s a great find, for sure.

  8. Sam

    Dad had a 411 fastback. Auto tranny. Fun little car. Only caught on fire 2 times, as far as I can remember. Smell of fuel was part of everyday driving. As a kid, I assumed all cars were that way. Too funny.

    Like 5
  9. Tennis Tim

    I had my 1969 jacked up in the back,Put Michelin’s and Astro mags on all four corners.Topped off with the emerald green metal flake paint job. One sharp looking car

  10. Steve Clinton

    I’ve always thought these “squareback sedans” (VW’s definition) were cool and came close to purchasing one in the mid-1970s. I bought a new 1976 914 instead and never regretted it. I wish I still had it.

  11. Armstrongpsyd Armstrongpsyd Member

    I had a 71 Square back, and it was as good as any car I’ve ever owned, and like many of us, I’ve owned a lot of cars. It was great in the snow and fast on the curves. It never caught fire or had any problems at all. I drove a brand new Q5 last night; how boring, like driving my iPhone.

    Like 5
    • Robt

      Ha ha ha
      Like driving my iphone. I love it.

      Like 1
  12. Car Nut Tacoma

    Beautiful looking car. I’ve always loved original survivors. The lower the mileage, the better. This has always been my favourite of the Volkswagen rear-engined cars, along with the (Transporter) Bus. I’d prefer this any day over the Beetle. Given its condition and originality, I’d be willing to pay close to the asking price of $8,000, provided parts are available to keep it on the road.

    Like 1
  13. steve

    Yes, you needed good fuel hoses with 38psiof fuel pressure. I owned the same car in red. I find the carb set ups to an admission of ignorance. That FI system was sweet. Tire pressures set, lighty loaded and reasonable speed? 35-38 mpg. Started in any weather and ran well.The heater, when hooked up correctly would keep the car toasty on sub zero days. The heater boxes are longer than the bug/bus AND had real heater boxes for the rear cylinders AND they were insulated to the pont that there are two small hoses/tubes running down the sides of the engine to provide cold air to the thermostatic collection boxes where they connected to the car. When I got my car those small tubes were gone and the guy left his seatbelts hanging to the floor in the rear. The heater had MELTED THEM to the carpet…..

    Like 4
    • Car Nut Tacoma

      I agree. I’ve heard stories of Air-Cooled Volkswagens having the worst heaters, that they barely warm the car, never mind toast the interior of the car. But I reckon that depends on what one does and how everything is serviced.

      Like 2
  14. Cobra Steve

    I have a ’66 Squareback (Variant) which is completely stock and has not only the factory sunroof, but the AM/FM shortwave radio and original platinum off-white interior. With 54,000 original miles on the clock, it is still a tight machine! No, she’s not for sale. She’s actually in my will for my youngest son to inherit.

    These are so practical! You can put your large dog in the back when the seat is folded down and he or she will be comfortable.

    As with any air-cooled car, do not lug the engine. They like to rev and need the air for cooling.

    Like 2
  15. Ken

    My sister got this car ☆☆NEW☆☆ in ’68 as a wedding present in Cleveland, OH. After ~ 1,500 mls, W/easy around town driving, on it W/ a 4-spd, + a new oil change, tune up ‘n new filters, she ‘n her new husband drove out 2 his new job in San Diego. It made it 1/2 way thru the desert until the motor locked up solid! Being a brand new car they had 2 hang out in Ajo, Arizona ’til VW built ‘n shipped another new 1 to them. Thank God it was mostly ALL covered by the warranty.
    The curtain falls ‘n time passes . . . . . . . . .
    On their way back the next summer, from SD, they got ~ 1/2 thru the desert & IT LOCKED UP AGAIN! STILL UNDER WARRENTY! They installed another new 1 then sold it ‘n bought a used ’65 MGB GT W/OD . . . . . . . . . . . FINALLY a car that could get’em across the desert @ least! 🤪

  16. Car Nut Tacoma

    I’ve never owned or driven an air-cooled car, VW or otherwise. So I don’t know how they’re supposed to be run.

    • Howard A Member

      Driving them hard was actually better for them, as the fan put out more air. It was stop and go that killed many.

      Like 3
  17. Glenn C. Schwass Member

    I miss seeing thes. This one is really.nice.

  18. MTBorst

    I got a ,I forget what year 69-70 beetle for the price of the me battery in it. It was the automatic stick shift. The electric clutch connection was bad. I drive it a couple years and sold it for $100.
    This Squareback is awesome and I’d buy it if I was in a position to do so.

  19. bobhess bobhess Member

    Solved the heater problem in my ’55 VW panel truck while in Labrador. Had a fire pit in the middle of the cargo area.

  20. Rinkman

    Had a 67 fastback in high school. It ran quite well until it went airborne one night – stupid me. I now have a 66 fastback – dual factory carbs – all original with 63k on the odometer and a 71 fastback – fuel injected and still learning- with 66 on the odometer.
    Type 3’s are good running cars.

  21. chrlsful

    wrenched the ♀︎frend’s back then (’72) but not 2 carb. Durable cept for the heater boxes rotted out (cold up here in NorEast).

  22. Gary Raymond Member

    OMG I’m in love! Duplicate of the 2nd car I ever owned, right down to the color. Wish it were closer, I’d be all over this! The only VW I’ve ever owned; the heater/defroster sucked but that’s really the only flaw I can recall. Windshield washer pump worked off of the spare tire. 8 track under-dash pullout stereo, speakers in the back deck lid, ‘bug-house’ (?) exhaust system, I was stylin! Loved that car…even after I had to have the engine rebuilt racing someone on I-5 going through downtown Seattle. Yeah, it wasn’t much of a race, but damn……

  23. Tim

    My 1969 type one had a metal flake paint job, emerald green, jacked up in the back with astro mags and Michelin tires. What a good ride.

  24. numskal Member

    My second car (after my 67 bug), was red with a black interior which I drove to college starting 1973. It had 34000 miles on it when I got it. From what I remember that engine (we called it a pancake engine) was thought to be a bad design and the way to solve it was to redo the block (which I did) and install “case savers” (which I couldn’t afford). Blew the motor in 1978 despite babying it the whole time. Sold it for $600 and got a 74 Toyota Celica GT

  25. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Reserve Not Met at a max bid of $10,201.

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