Volkswagen introduced their 1600TL “Fastback” model in 1966 and it went on to be a very popular and successful model in their overall product range. Within the Type 3 production numbers, however, was a limited production model which is now popularly known simply as the “Volkswagen Pigalle”, so named after the red colour of the interior.
Type 3 Volkswagen
The Type 3 VW1500 sedan was introduced to the world at the Frankfurt Automotive Show in September 1961, featuring a newly designed 1500 cc engine and chassis, although both were still based on the popular VW1200 Beetle. The VW1500 was not intended to replace the Beetle, but to offer a larger companion car to the Beetle, and an upgrade path within the VW product range. The new style engine meant that Volkswagen could introduce a storage area on top of the engine at the rear, in addition to the larger storage area under the bonnet. The interior was substantially redesigned, with a padded dash and new triple binnacle arrangement featuring speedo, clock, and fuel gauge and tell-tales for lights etc. There were “panic” straps on the door pillars, plus plenty of ash trays, door pockets, etc. The VW1500 was described as a five seater passenger vehicle and much was made of the wide opening doors, and other “creature comforts”.
In 1962 Volkswagen introduced the VW1500 station wagon. Both the VW1500 sedan (often referred to as a Notchback) and station-wagon (or Squareback) were introduced into Australia in 1963. Initially fully imported, both models were soon integrated into the VW production line at the Clayton plant as a combination of CKD components and local pressings, trim, etc.
In 1965 Volkswagen introduced the 1600TL Fastback model, with a 1600 cc engine, as well as a panel van version of the VW1500. From the front, and interior wise, the Fastback was almost identical to the earlier VW1500 sedans and station wagons, although it featured a larger 1600 cc engine with twin carburettors producing 65 bhp. Volkswagen boasted a top speed of 84 mph. The 1600TL Fastback also featured 4 stud wheels, disk brakes, a clever seat locking mechanism, and much more.
Wheels magazine (May 1966) carried a review of a privately imported 1600TL and was very impressed with the car, from the new style dash, impressive ventilation for cooling and heating, plus the creature comforts such as arm rests, door pockets, upholstery materials, and so on. Quality was regarded as being excellent in all areas.
VW Australia introduced the 1600 Fastback in April 1966, but it wore a 1600TS badge instead of the 1600TL of the European models. The locally made 1600TS was obviously designed to meet Australian design and safety regulations and included a range of features, chrome bumper over-riders, lap sash seatbelts, etc. They also featured full carpeting, but had hinged rear windows instead of the European “Flexiglass” style. The 1600TS also had the older style 5 stud wheels and drivers had to make do with drum brakes all around.
Volkswagen Pigalle Fastback
As far as the owners could discover, this car was manufactured in Germany on 24th September 1965, and arrived in Melbourne in November that year. It is believed that the car was ordered by VW Australia to feature on the VW stand at the 1966 Melbourne International Motor Show to help promote the imminent launch of the 1600TS Fastback into the local market in April 1966. As for the colour, this car features Pearl White paintwork and an interior trim colour known as “Pigalle”. This particular colour combination was only produced from August to December 1965, after which all Pearl White cars had the more common black trim. The later Fastbacks were available with red seats and trim, but the dash, seat bases, etc were standard black.
It is generally regarded that only 1,500 Volkswagen Pigalle cars were ever produced; 500 each of the notchback, squareback and fastback, although this has not been absolutely confirmed one way or the other. However, only 2 right hand drive models are known to exist world-wide. Further more, this particular car features the optional steel sun-roof, rear centre arm rest and pop-out Flexiglass windows. The supposition is that when choosing a car to help launch the 1600 Fastback in Australia, VW Australia ordered “one with the lot” as a “super” display car. It’s not known whether they knew at the time whether or not the Pigalle colour scheme would be continued, but displaying a fully optioned new model car is not exactly unheard of.
After the 1966 Melbourne Motor Show, the car was purchased by VW dealer Pound Motors in Carlton, where it stood duty on the showroom floor and also as a demonstrator, executive driven vehicle, etc. In 1968 it was sold as an ex-demonstrator and has had several owners since.
This Volkswagen Pigalle Fastback is considered to be the oldest Volkswagen Type 3 1600 Fastback in Australia, and the first air cooled Volkswagen to arrive in this country with four stud wheels and disk brakes.