The VW412 Project
I had often entertained the idea of building a 5-door Variant – long before I learned that VW had apparently designed one. I started thinking a few years ago about how it might be done and when I mentioned it to Bryan and Jane Terry, they told me they had thought about the idea too. So we decided to give it a go – we would build the car VW should have built 25 or 30 years ago.
The knowledge that Wolfsburg engineers designed a five-door Variant is far from common, even among the most ardent Type 4 enthusiasts. As far as is known, the only public reference to this project was made by Klaus Morhammer in the September/October 1997 issue of the German Volkswagen-dedicated magazine VW Speed (Delius Klasing Verlag, Bielefeld, FGR). The VW 411 five-door Variant project was given a special design code number: EA 240 (EA = Entwicklungsauftrag or Design Assignment). No drawings or photographs of this have been seen and, apparently, the EA 240 project was cancelled because of low sales expectations.
The Type 4 was the largest air-cooled car that Volkswagen made. It started life as the 411 with a 1700cc carburettor engine, became fuel-injected, a restyled body earned the renaming to the 412, this in turn acquired an 1800cc twin-carburettor engine for the final year of production, which ceased in the late summer of 1975.
I wanted to use the original VW body pressings wherever I could to keep it as authentic as possible. I considered various alternatives and eventually decided to transplant the doors from a 4-door Fastback into the sides of a Variant. Easier said than done, but a challenge that had to be met!
I started work on the project in October 1999 and, although the overall plan was clear, had to work out the finer details as we went along. Nobody has ever done this before! However, the conversion work was substantially complete by May 2000 and work then continued on general patching to repair the ravages of the tin-worm. The photographs tell the story.
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