Type 3 -- Owner's Manual

VW Type III: Features

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Type III identification

The VW Type III has a number of distinct features that make it different from other automobiles of the period, and even help it to stand out among other air-cooled VWs. When identifying a Type III, you'll want to first check out the serial numbers on the body, frame and engine.

How to identify a Type III. (Image of serial number locations)

The body/frame number (these should be identical; if not, the body and pan come from two different vehicles!) is located at the front of the front trunk space where the hood closes and on the frame tunnel under the back seat. From 19XX on, the serial number is also indicated on the dashboard and is visible through the windshield. The engine serial number is stamped into the rear of the top of the crankcase, right where the two halves are joined. Vehicle and engine identification numbers are the best way to identify the construction date of a Type III (Except for early examples from 1961, when there was weak correlation between chassis number and construction date). Note that the new model year for Volkswagens begins in August of the previous year. For example, my "1963" Beetle was built in August of 1962. My "1971" squareback was built in late 1970. Also, beginning with the 1965 model year, the first digit shows the Type number (3 for Type III), the second digit is a 1 for notch/fastbacks or a 6 for squarebacks, and the third digit in the serial number is last digit of the model year. So, my late-1970 built squareback has "361" as the first three digits of its serial number. Got that?

Now, there are even more specific model identification numbers for notchbacks, squarebacks and fastbacks. These numbers indicate things like engine displacement, sunroof and level of trim.

Changes through the years

Type III options & VW part numbers

Volkswagens were shipped with a number of different special options and option packages. Each option had a special code number, often referred to as an "M-code." M-codes identified features such as equipment required for a particular country of destination, special engine or suspension options, or extra items like gas heaters.

Jim Adney has painstakingly entered a detailed list of Type III M-codes from official VW microfiche. Jim has taken care to enter the text precisely as it appears on the microfiche for complete authenticity. (Thanks, Jim!) If anybody has additional M-codes to add to the list, please drop me a line and I'll add them here.

If you're interested in M-codes for Type I and Type II, see Mark Janello's page of M-codes.

Jim has also put together an explanation of the VW part numbering system. Required reading; this material will be on the test. :-)

Evolution of the Type III dash

Internally, the dash went through several iterations. This first image is a dash from a deluxe 1500S version (introduced in 1964). Note the sliding fresh air vent controls to the right of the ash tray.

Mid-1960s dash. (Image of early dashboard)

The three gauges on the Type III dash are (from left to right): the gas gauge (including warning lights), speedometer and clock. Tachometers were available for the space where the clock lives, but if you can find one it seems that they cost more than what I payed for my '71 squareback...

The mid-style dash pictured below also features the air conditioning option. The fresh air vents are now operated by rotating knobs, but still located between the ash tray and glove box. Note the rear window defroster switch and indicator light positioned just below the clock.

196?-1970 style dash with a/c (Image of air conditioned dash)

The final general version of the Type III dash, introduced with the 1971 model year, adds a few more features.

The 1971+ dash (Image of later dashboard)

Most notable are the fresh air vents(labeled "2" in the picture) located below the restyled, trimmer ash tray(23). Numbered 26 in the image, located between the fresh air vents and the defrost switch, is the control for the optional gas heater. A brake check light(6) between the speedo and clock matches that also introduced in the Beetle for the 1971 lineup. On the left, above the headlight and hazard switches, there's a two-speed switch that controls the operation of the new fresh air fan.

VW engineers twiddled with a few more features before the Type III was finally retired after the 1973 model year. The steering wheel lost the metal horn ring (replaced with a "solid" plastic piece) and a gaudy SEATBELT light was thrown onto the dash for safety's sake (certainly not for aesthetics).

Need to take apart bits of your dash board and your instrumentation panel? Here are tips on gauge removal, speaker removal, and dashpad removal.

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