VW Type-3 - Also called Volkswagen 1500 and Volkswagen 1600. Production 1961–1973 - Number built - 2,542,382 More
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  •   Martyn Goddard reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    A NOTCH ABOVE THE REST / #VW-Type-3 / #VW-Type-3-Notchback / #VW / #Volkswagen-Type-3 / #Volkswagen / #1965

    ‘I had no idea what I was getting myself into’ concedes James Harris, the owner of this ‘S’-trimmed 1965 Notchback. The road to building this project car proved quite arduous indeed, especially since he elected unusual options such as a custom airbag suspension kit. The result is a gorgeous, well-thought out ride, which became one of the main attractions of the #2015 Bug-In! Words & Photos: Stephan Szantai

    Though many Californian enthusiasts prefer unveiling their new project cars during the VW Clasic Weekend in June, you can bet a handful of fresh Vee Dubs will show up about a month earlier at Bug-In. This year was no exception, with a couple of Type 3s coming to mind in particular. One of them, the Notchback S you see here, immediately got our attention due to its fit, finish and overall attitude, being slammed to the ground thanks to an airbag suspension kit.

    The vehicle belongs to James Harris, who grew up in a muscle and classic car family. ‘My first car was a ’70 Beetle that was given to me by a friend – it hadn’t been running for years. After pushing it five city blocks to my parents’ house, we worked our way around extracting all the critter nests and troubleshooting the engine and electrical. The issue wound up being a bad starter. So 35 dollars later, plus a day or so cleaning and tuning the stock 1600, I was driving that Bug to school. I was 16!’

    Fast forward two decades and seven air-cooled VWs gone through... Ready for a new challenge, James set to wrench on a model never officially imported in the U.S. and therefore rather rare: the Notchback. He reached out to the popular community, eventually locating a ’65 ‘S’ located in Oregon. At 800 Dollars, the price was right, although the car showed plenty of rust, having sat in a field for years. ‘It had seen better days’, he admits. ‘But it had never been hit. And along with the deal came an extra floor pan, four extra fenders and miscellaneous parts to complete the rebirth.’

    HerrKooled VW Club president Seb Schmidt came to the rescue to help dismantle the hulk. What they discovered wasn’t pretty, with seats in particular being only held up by the tracks mounted to the tunnel and rocker panels. James continues: ‘At this point, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, given I knew absolutely nothing about Type 3s – let alone had never even ridden in one! I didn’t realize that sourcing parts for these cars is almost impossible, because they are not remanufactured, unlike Beetles.’ He did not give up, spending countless hours trying to identify parts all over the world and corresponding with folks in many different time zones; it prompted the ‘NSOMNYA’ personalized license plates.

    For the chassis work, James entrusted Pete at Airkewld, an Arizona-based company known for its quality work, which has translated into several groundbreaking project cars. The team had never done an airbag suspension conversion (their specialty) on a Type 3, but enthusiastically dove into the build. ‘All of us didn’t realize what we were getting into’, continues James. ‘This job took the combination of three full pans worth of donor parts and countless hours of fabrication to finally complete the order.’

    Eighteen months and plenty of obstacles later, the chassis – now powder-coated Silver Vein – was finally done. It utilizes new Gearson Type 3 pan halves, a reinforced tunnel with an inspection plate for easy access to the cables, in addition to a CADdesigned rear sub-frame to accommodate the air ride suspension, with 2500-Lbs bags. Up front, a 4-inch narrowed beam based on a Type 1 unit welcomes dropped spindles, all new steering components, stainless hardware and air shocks. Adjustments of the ride height come courtesy of an Accuair 4-valve electric system with remote. The driver won’t have issues stopping the vehicle, thanks to an Airkewld Stage 3 disc brake kit, utilizing Wilwood calipers in the front.

    Buggy World supplied the ‘Freeway Flyer’ gearbox with a .82 fourth gear, fitted with shortened axles to make sure the rear tyres would fit under the stock fenders without interference. The Nitto rubber in question, measuring 205/40 and 215/40, fit around unusual yet cool 7Jx17 and 7Jx18 Schott Mod-5 rims.

    Although he’s owned his share of fast cars, James wanted the Notch to be a reliable cruiser; so he asked Pete to assemble a mild 1776cc with a compression ratio of 8-to-1. It utilizes a CB Performance aluminium case, along with a 69mm VW counterweighted crank and 90.5mm AA pistons/cylinders. An Engle W-110 camshaft activates stock-size valves installed in VW 041 heads, whilst ignition relies on a Pertronix coil and a Bosch 009 distributor with a Pertronix Ignitor. A pair of short CB manifolds supports the #Weber 40IDFs, set in motion thanks to a modified 48IDA throttle linkage. Fumes exit via a ceramic-coated A-1 header and stainless A-1 muffler. Other well-known engine goodies include a CB oil breather, a CPR ‘Smallternator’ alternator, plus a full-flow oil system with a #K&N remote filter.

    While Airkewld doctored up the floor pan, James called on the assistance of a fellow member, RJ, to handle some of the body’s repairs: sunroof channel, rear quarter panel, headlight buckets etc. The two enthusiasts agreed on a handful of alterations, from the shaved rocker mouldings and rear decklid emblems, to the notched inner front wheel wells to accommodate the Type 1 beam. The paint came next, but the unexpected happened... James requested to have the car sprayed with a first coat of VW Strato Silver (a popular Oval Window metallic colour), but the mix wound up being incorrect and closer to a blue hue.

    Thankfully, he ended up liking the final result! The shell then moved from RJ’s shop to JM Designs where Jim McKay shot additional coats of paint, followed by clear coats, wet sanding and buffing down to a mirror shine. Once Type 3 guru Brian Hicks installed a fresh ISP West wiring harness, the body could finally be reunited with the floor pan... somewhat reluctantly as the owner jokingly points out: ‘The chassis was so clean that I didn’t want to cover all of Airkewld’s outstanding work with a shell!’ Audio Addiction later took delivery of the car for – you guessed it – a killer stereo featuring custom speaker enclosures for the nine speakers – the system also relies on Alpine and Memphis Audio components.

    The next step involved Tito’s Auto Upholstery, a respected shop that handled the rest of the interior. Powdercoated Dove Blue, the 1958 seat frames were dressed with Midnight Blue vinyl and Steel Blue suede, while the dash lost its distinctive pad to welcome more vinyl. High-quality German Square Weave carpet covers the floor and (both!) trunks, after using plenty of Dynamat sound damping material. Other interior amenities include a Nardi-style steering wheel by ISP West, a Black Mamba shifter from Vintage Speed, together with a couple of Autometer Cobaltseries gauges mounted under the dash.

    The fun resumed with the final assembly, with all metal parts being either re-chromed (‘S’ badge, headlight rings, handles, bumpers...) or powdercoated (latches/catches, locks...). New weather stripping, seals, trim and polished window frames followed, in addition to the factory VW glass – note the one-off trim in front of the bonnet as well. James, Seb and other friends spent endless nights on the assembly of all the tedious parts. It was worth it... ‘The car came together better than I had imagined’, reveals James. ‘Had I known then how challenging this project would be, I can’t necessarily say I’d have the energy or drive to do it all over again. Out of all the VWs I’ve built over the years, I can truly say this one is a ‘Notch’ above the rest’!

    It took James three years to complete his project – undoubtedly one of the highlights of the 2015 Bug-In.

    Below left: Built as a dependable cruiser, the Notch relies on a mild 1776cc motor with an.

    Engle W-110 cam

    Below: Part of the 9-speaker #Alpine and #Memphis audio system hides in the (front) trunk.

    Left: By using a modified Type 1 beam, 205/40-17 nicely fit in the front.

    Below: Vintage Speed supplied the efficient and precise Black Mamba shifter.

    1. Under the dash, the Autometer oil temp and voltmeter gauge complement the factory instruments.
    2. Alpine head unit and USB port have been cleverly concealed in the glovebox.
    3. The car stops efficiently thanks to an Airkewld disc brake kit with Wilwood calipers.
    4. Blue handcrafted vinyl replaces the stock dash pad. ISP steering wheel is reminiscent of an old Nardi.
    5. Schott rims measure 7Jx17 in front and a whopping 7Jx18 in the back.

    “James requested to have the car sprayed with a first coat of #VW-Strato-Silver

    Above: James chose a ‘road less travelled’ by adapting large diameter rims coupled with an airbag suspension kit.

    Below left: German Square Weave carpet can be found throughout the car.

    Note three speakers, too Below: You’ve got to love the bench, still featuring its distinctive Type 3 armrest!

    Above: Suede and vinyl nicely match the colour of the vehicle, a custom blend metallic blue.
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  • THREE SQUARED #VW-Type-3-Squareback

    Matthias Krenzer may have only made three modifications to his air-cooled Type 3 Squareback yet if you spotted it at a show we bet it would be the car you’d most want to drive home in… Words: Neil Hunt Photos: Patrick Hille.

    It won’t surprise you that Matthias Krenzer has form when it comes to properly stanced #VAG metal, both air and water-cooled. The 40-yearold Bavarian has laid claim – and laid frame – for more years than a lot of us have been driving and he has an enviable list of past projects. He’s dropped the lot – from Beetles to Splits, Ghias to a string of classic Passats, and a few big Audis, too. In fact, this Type 3 shares his garage with a tubbed and body-dropped T2 Deluxe Bay window that’s so low Matthias has had to raise the fuel tank and the 1700cc motor. But hinting at his love for water-cooled, too, he’s running the Bay on 18” three-piece Artec Turbos. He describes his other project – a 1964 Karmann Ghia – as a slammed “deluxe ratlook”. What he means by that is it’s laid right out and isn’t so rusty you can see inside from outside. To hell with the paint, plant it.

    The skilled toolmaker (and now part-time wheel builder) has a lot of love for simple builds that involve some serious lowering, a wellthought- out set of rims placed millimetreperfectly in the arches, and a narrowed front end. Three really simple, and affordable, steps. So, not surprisingly then, that was the plan for the Type 3, as Matthias tells us: “Next to the Bus and the Ghia, I wanted something I could use with a bit of space in it and I’d always loved the shape of the Squareback. The look of the car when it’s lowered is just so cool but only when a narrowed front end is matched with a mad cambered rear. But I knew if I was going to do it, the wheels would have to be 17s instead of the usual 15s most people run. I wanted to make sure I had a decent engine in there, too. Nothing too crazy, just enough to make sure I could make trips to Wörthersee and across Europe.”

    With the seemingly endless supply of vintage German #VW s still popping up from across Europe you’d think Matthias would have found it easy to find a suitable base car but this one turned up in the least likely place. “The guys at Cult Classic Ellgau imported this #1965 car for me from Hawaii! Because of that, though, it was pretty much rust- and weld-free. I’m really proud to say that this is still true today. So, with a car this good it really helped my plan to just keep things nice and simple and not get involved with painting and trimming it. Although, even if I had, I would have still kept it this period faded white with the plain old beige and grey interior. I love the fact that everyone can see the car has lived for 50 years and so it won’t be brand-new.”

    With the Squareback landing in Germany in April 2013, the first stop was Cult Classics for a wiring refresh and a freshen up of the old motor, as Matthias tells us: “I got the guys to strip and rebuild the standard 1500cc engine to give it a new life and then to overhaul the electrics so I knew everything would be reliable. Sure, it’s only 45bhp but who needs more?”

    After only a month in the shop, Matthias started to think it might be possible to make it to Wörthersee the following year and after only another month or two, had already sourced a narrowed front beam to pull the front wheels in nice and tight to the front bay walls (we can’t really call it an engine bay, can we?). The beam would be static dropped for now and it narrowed the front track by a good three inches on each side for that classic air-cooled stance. The back was even easier. It’s simply a case of removing the rear suspension arms, turning them up by a measured amount and bolting them back onto the car. Voilà, lowered. It’s actually more of an art than that, but you get the idea. For any airheads, Matthias had turned the torsion bars three outer splines.

    With the drop nailed, Matthias had to add his signature touch: good wheels. As he explains, there was a lot of pressure on him: “Many years ago, I started messing around with wheels for my own cars, building split-rims and making smaller wheels bigger. Slowly, more and more friends started asking me to make wheels for their cars. Quickly I got the name ‘Gekrenzert’ which translates as ‘built by Krenzer’. I built some cool wheels including some 17” Pirelli slots, 17” Fuchs, 17” Porsche Teledials and so many more. It’s become a second job for me and before big events it’s not unusual for me to work 18-hour days to get things done so people can make it to the show on my wheels. I wanted 17” wheels for the Squareback but in this old PCD bolt pattern (5x205mm – called ‘wide five’), the choice of wheels is very small, especially for 17” wheels. But I didn’t want to make life hard by using adaptors as that would have really ruined my chances of getting the wheels sitting in the right place in the arches. So, after much research I went for these reproduction Escra rims. They’re a copy of the classic Radar wheels and are really hard to get hold of. They’re the best part of £1000, if you can get them that is. They’re ET40 and I’ve used a 185/35 Nankang tyre across the 7” rim for a nice look without making them crazy stretched or a hard ride quality. Rolling it out of the garage on the new wheels was my favourite part of the whole build. That moment will stay with me forever. It was one of those ‘yes, you did it right’ times.”

    That was the end of 2013 and while little touches were added – like the all-red rear clusters and period safety star – Matthias still wanted to just push that bit further towards the look he craved. It nagged him that much that in February 2014, he decided enough was enough and he wanted to make the move from static drop to air-ride to really tuck those 17” Escras right up in the arches.

    A call to JJ Vintage saw the static front beam exchanged for a new air-ride version, which was shortly followed by the rest of the air setup from Wagnair. There are no complicated electronics at work here, just a plain old paddle system controlling up and down with a switch. There isn’t even an electronic display, just a good old-fashioned manual pressure gauge. Matthias’ friends at Cult Classic got stuck in and by April last year, the Type 3 had reached new lows. Major lows. Ready in time for the Wörthersee tour, Matthias was seriously happy. It’s not often we meet an owner that wouldn’t change a thing about their project but Matthias admits he loves the car and wouldn’t have done it any differently.

    Although, he has made one addition since the shoot… an unsurprising one for a man with a reputation for sporting killer rims. When we last spoke to Matthias he revealed he had changed the Escra rims to custom 17” three-piece Porsche Teledial splits. Now that’s a look we’re totally feeling. Matthias has hinted that he wants to try and drop the front even lower but for now, he’s happy. So, you won’t see a colour change, interior retrim or fancy air install over this year’s show season; instead you’ll see Matthias sitting, chilling with a beer and a broad smile. He won’t be worried about winning prizes at shows because he’s too busy enjoying the fruits of his labour.

    Dub Details #VW-Type-3 Squareback #Volkswagen

    ENGINE: Standard 1500cc flat-four rebuilt, with standard four-speed gearbox.

    CHASSIS: 7x17” Escra ‘Radar’-style wheels, ET40. 185/35 Nankang tyres all-round. Factory brakes. JJ Vintage Type 1 Beetle narrowed front air beam narrowed 3” each side. Wagnair manual air-ride system.

    EXTERIOR: Original faded white paint. All-red rear lights. Safety Star. White indicators.

    INTERIOR: Original seats and trim panels. Pop-out windows. Ivory steering wheel.

    ICE: Original period radio.

    SHOUT: I’d like to thank my girl Verena for her patience and massive support. Thanks also to Cult Classic Ellgau, JJ Vintage and Wagnair.

    Matthias’ Type 3 Squareback might not have as many modifications as some cars we’ve featured recently but we love the simple effectiveness of what he’s done.

    Rolling it out of the garage was my favourite part of the build on the new wheels.

    “I love the fact that everyone can see the car has lived for 50 years”
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