More on VWs, Good and Bad

vwgolfvi

The esteemed tgriffith (we’re trading compliments these days) wrote yesterday about Volkswagen’s ambitious rise to seek the top spot among world automakers. In these days when fortunes turn fast in the car world, maybe that’s not so amazing after all. The Golf VI was just named 2009 World Car of the Year at the New York Auto Show.

By all accounts, the Golf VI is a great car, the latest in a remarkably successful line. First the Golf, then the Rabbit, now the Golf again. “Since 1974 VW has sold more than 26 million Golfs in 120 countries around the world,” says Road & Track. The new GTI, based on the Golf, but a quite different car, has also gained kudos.

VW is clearly on a roll, but it was not always thus. From the 1970s through the early ‘90s, the company produced some generally lousy cars, and their fortunes didn’t really turn until the New Beetle and the fifth-generation Passat arrived. There’s a rather complete history here.

vwsquarebackI’ve always been a Volkswagen fan, though never a fanatic. The quality issues in the ‘70s cars were terrible, in my experience. I’ve owned a 2003 GTI, a New Beetle Turbo, a Passat, a Porsche 914-2.0 and a 1600 Squareback wagon, also known as the Type 3. The latter probably drew more foul language from my lips than any other car I’ve owned.

Technically, the Squareback was interesting, and that’s why I bought it. With a noisy, no-heat, 1.6-liter air-cooled flat four-cylinder under the rear-most floor, the car (a ’68, I think) was one of the first in the U.S. to have electronic fuel injection (Bosch, I think), which often malfunctioned. The torsion bar suspension was cool, but the shocks and engine overheating were not. Nor were the rust spots that appeared in unusual and dangerous places.

Certainly we could all name cars that gave us heartburn and cost a bundle to maintain. But there are few companies that have turned the corner and come out as strong as Volkswagen.

Have any of you dear readers had experience with the Squareback? Tell us your VW story.

—jgoods

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