liter boxer 4
hp per liter
Press Release) Wolfsburg, 19 September 2008 - Forty years
have passed since Volkswagen presented the VW 411, at that time the
companys largest and most powerful model yet, to some 200
journalists in Wolfsburg. The journalists had earlier put the VW 411
through its paces on the new Volkswagen proving ground in
Ehra-Lessien, testing the vehicles equipment and performance.
Volkswagen built 367,728 units until production ceased in July 1974,
and 416 of these are currently registered as old-timers.
The ads claimed there had never been a VW like this before. And they
were quite right. This was the very first model with a unibody, a
four-door option, more space than any other Volkswagen and a longer
wheelbase than the Beetle. A newly-designed, powerful, 68 bhp
air-cooled 1.6 liter boxer engine mounted in the rear of the VW 411
was robust enough even for long journeys at a maximum speed of 145
km/h. The innovative sporty chassis with MacPherson strut front
suspension and rear suspension with double joint axles also used in
the Porsche 911 made sure the car held the road well. The midsize
saloon featured the luxury of a luxury car. Available with either
a Normal or an L equipment line, Wolfsburgs biggie offered
customers space and ride comfort, enhanced safety, a total 570
liters of luggage space in front and rear and an optional automatic
The history of what was known as the Type 4 began in 1962 as
development project EA 142. The economics of series production,
which began in February 1967, were based on the sale of 822,500
vehicles over a four year period with daily production of 1,000
units. The price of the VW 411 ranged from 7,770 to 9,285 DM.
Compared to the VW 1500/1600 launched in 1961, the VW 411 was
noticeably larger and better equipped. Volkswagen aimed to establish
the new vehicle in the upper midsize segment which was beyond the
reach of the Beetle and the Type 3, and to expand the market
position in the long term by broadening the model range. For this
reason, the publicity concentrated on technical innovations and the
high level of comfort as well as highlighting typical Volkswagen
characteristics such as quality, economic efficiency and service.
In the run-up to the market launch on October 5, 1968, dealers, the
press and customers responded positively to the VW 411. Once the car
had come to market, problems with the clutch on the first models
delivered and an increasingly negative press curbed sales prospects.
The most common complaints from customers related to engine and
driving noise, the engines limited output and what was perceived as
an unaesthetic front end. Since over 80% of VW 411 buyers were
already Volkswagen customers, the vehicle failed to win new customer
groups. As a result of these marketing problems, which could not be
remedied by sales incentives either, Volkswagen sporadically lowered
production to 75 vehicles per day.
The company introduced an improved version, the VW 411 E, for the
1970 model year. Electronic fuel injection boosted engine output to
80 bhp and the front end, which had given the model the nickname of
Nasenbr (coati), received a facelift. The VW 411 E Variant,
provided even more space for luggage, and this estate version was
soon selling twice as well as the hatchback saloon. Type 4 exports
to the USA began in 1971, and the car sold better than expected
there, soon accounting for roughly 40% of total sales. A further new
and improved model called the VW 412 followed in 1972. Production of
the Type 4 at the Wolfsburg plant continued until 1973, when the
production line was relocated to Salzgitter, and production at
Volkswagen of South Africa commenced in 1969.
Even though the VW 411/412 did not break any sales records, the
model nevertheless has an important role to play in Volkswagens
automobile history as the last large series model with air cooling
and a rear-mounted engine. A 1966 prototype is on display at the
Automuseum Wolfsburg. The Type 4 has by no means been forgotten.
Type 4 fan clubs in Germany and abroad have been presenting their
lovingly preserved automotive rarities at a stand at Techno Classica