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The Volkswagen Americans Were Never Supposed to Have

Road & Track logo Road & Track 2017-05-16 Máté Petrány
The Volkswagen Americans Were Never Supposed to Have © Jay Leno's Garage / YouTube The Volkswagen Americans Were Never Supposed to Have

Just six years after the original, Beetle-based Karmann Ghia came on the US market, Volkswagen introduced the bigger, more powerful Type 3, with three body styles: Notchback, Fastback and Squareback. With it, VW also launched a new luxury coupe, the 1500cc Type 34 Karmann Ghia, also known as the "Große Karmann." Being a Type 3-based car, the new Karmann had more space, power and comfort than the Beetle. But it cost twice as much as the Volkswagens that Americans had been buying, so the Germans decided not to import it to the US.

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Luckily, both servicemen and dealers brought thousands of them into the country unofficially (something that was much easier in the 1960s than it is today), which is how Facebook's Head of Market Development and massive air-cooled enthusiast Matt Jacobson could find this perfect example. The most Instagram-friendly Type 34 of them all has a larger, more powerful engine, front disc brakes, an early Porsche 914 steering wheel, French Marchal headlamps and a tachometer that doesn't work, as well as such standard features as the totally offset seating position, a nose-high stance, push-button controls and an AM/FM radio. It may not have been intended for the US market, but it sure looks good on California roads.

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