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VW 411 - one car, two stories: Type 4 as the culmination of the Beetle concept

Frank Herzog
VW 411 - one car, two stories
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Manfred Jantke tested the VW 411 LE for a uto motor und sport , his short test was published in issue 20/1067: 'The Volkswagen factory drew conclusions from the sales success of the Type 411, which was miserable by VW standards. The mid-range car has not yet been replaced with a new one Type replaced, but drastic changes were made after a year of construction. '

Shy cosmetic surgery on the VW 411

Naturally, they were aimed at that Pooh The poor performance and the annoying noise of the engine of the VW 411. On the unhappily shaped front of the car, attempts were also made to save what could be saved, but here it remained with rather shy cosmetic operations.

80 HP instead of 68 HP is shown in the vehicle registration document for the new VW 411 models, and this is the same for all versions of this type. The basic structure of the new electric motor corresponds to the previous 1.7-liter engine, but the details have been turned inside out. In the engine compartment you can see it at first glance: The two-gasoline engine has become an injection engine.

Good fuel utilization through precise mixture preparation, favoring of the engine elasticity, automatic adjustment of the injection quantity to different pressure conditions (thus less power loss in large Altitude) and less toxic exhaust fumes speak for this system. With the Type 411, VW was primarily concerned with an increase in performance, because the big Volkswagen kept an unsympathetic distance to common mid-range competitors in terms of performance, but not in terms of price. -headline__article - beta '> Injection system of the VW 1600 and other measures lift the output to 80 HP

With the help of new pistons, modified cylinder heads with larger inlet valves, modified camshafts and higher compression, the boxer engine was given additional wind . The fuel injection of the VW 411 is the electronically controlled D-Jetronic from Bosch known from the VW 1600. Your control part is located in the 411 in the left paneling of the engine compartment.

After starting the VW 411 electric motor, when idling, it initially makes the same noise as its predecessor. When driving at higher engine speed, however, there are differences: The engine noise is not only quieter, it has also become more buzzing.In fact, the injection engine runs smoother than the carburettor engine due to the even distribution of fuel to all four cylinders. The machine also appears livelier in the upper speed range, 6,000 rpm. are reached quite quickly in the corridors, a very respectable brand for VW engines. When the speedometer needle often reached a magical 160 km /h on a flat road surface, we were ready to emotionally certify a noticeable increase in performance for the VW 411 E.

E - like disappointment

How much feelings can be deceptive was of course shown in the moment of truth that struck the VW 411 E on a measuring section in Lower Saxony that was often used by VW technicians: The performance measurements showed only a small, barely noteworthy plus compared to the previous 411 for the injector.

The difference averaged only 0.8 to 1.3 seconds. Zero to 100 km /h were now reached in 17.9 instead of 17.0 seconds. Because the values ​​were well below the factory specifications (0 - 100 km /h in 15 seconds, top speed 155 km /h), auto motor und sport took the trouble to take the measurements a week later on the usual one To repeat the measuring section in Hockenheim. The Volkswagen factory believed they had found the fault in the injection control and sent another car.

But the result was the same, the values ​​almost exactly matched those determined in Northern Germany. An analysis of the measured values ​​revealed that the machine has become livelier in the upper speed range, but has hardly gained any elasticity over the entire speed range. A well-run-in VW 411 E, the test car only had 2,500 km on the counter, could certainly come closer to the factory specifications.

Increased performance must be questioned

Nevertheless, the nominal power difference of 12 HP between the old and the new VW 411 engine must be questioned, probably in favor of the old and to the disadvantage of the new model. According to initial consumption figures, the injection engine is by no means more economical than its predecessor.

The minimal extra power even has to be bought at the cost of higher gasoline consumption, which is also accompanied by the extra price for premium gasoline. The noise dampening measures on the VW 411 were more successful than the performance cure. This includes a new, more elastic mounting of the drive block in four (instead of three previously) rubber-metal bearings, which have also been redesigned. VW also parted with the magnesium casting for the engine block and oil pan, which is now made of die-cast aluminum, and finally additional insulating material is also being built into the body.

Interior noise significantly quieter

This oneMeasures had noticeable success. The noise levels fell by four to six decibels, especially in the range above 80 km /h. With these phon numbers, the E-Type is not exactly one of the quiet middle-class cars, but the noise is quieter and less annoying than before. The absolutely vibration-free running at high speeds has a pleasant effect on the VW. By the way, the gas station attendant's criticism of the poor accessibility of the oil service in Wolfsburg did not go unheard. In the VW 411 E, the dipstick and oil filler opening are now on the top of the engine.

The obvious external hallmark of the VW 411 E are twin headlights, which make it look a little less boring than its goggle-eyed predecessor. They contain halogen H1 lights that provide excellent light. The excellent workmanship of the VW cars is always impressive.

Modern chassis and unfavorable axle load distribution

After nearly After a year of construction, the VW 411 also achieved the high Wolfsburg standard, because first-class workmanship is a Wolfsburg specialty, but of course the 5,000th car is better than the 500th.

As is well known, the large VW 411 has a modern, highly developed chassis, but its driving characteristics are not without problems because of the unfavorable axle load distribution. When cornering, the car has both a pronounced tendency to understeer and a tendency to oversteer, which can occur abruptly when cornering extremely. The transition was not easy for the driver, and it was not always easy to identify in time.

Better cornering on the new VW 411

Here a small chassis correction in the form of an additional torsion bar stabilizer on the rear axle improved the situation : The transition to oversteering is now smoother and easier to perceive, the VW 411 E oversteering a little more willingly, but better controllable than its predecessor. The real strength of this chassis is still in the suspension comfort, because the car swallows small and large bumps in the floor better than many of its class competitors.

Now that the seats are right, you drive really comfortably in the big VW. In terms of space, the VW 411 can keep up quite well in the mid-range. Even the front trunk, although quite jagged, has a satisfactory capacity. The E didn't make the 411 a new car, but it certainly made a better one. After clearing up obvious defects, the car looks more rounded, and you wish it had appeared like this a year ago.

Since the improved 411 has not become more expensive, it is a more attractive offer than a year ago, but not one that shines in the middle class. VW has understood how to box other, not very successful models with the Type 3. In the long run, however, the 411 can hardly do thison which the Volkswagenwerk is placing its mid-range future.

The ingredients of the VW Type 4 were the finest. The front axle based on the recipe of the Porsche 911, at the rear an elaborate semi-trailing arm construction that animated the mid-engine sports car VW-Porsche 914 to top cornering speeds. In matters of style, none other than Pininfarina advised, plus the much-vaunted VW quality in material and workmanship. But the self-supporting total work of art flopped, even as a lifted 412, the VW 411 remained rather an unknown being even for VW fanatics.

Despite weak points, the VW 411 was very popular with buyers

Die auto motor und sport advertisement (19/1971) has great symbolic value. It bears witness to a formal and technical diversity of species that would hardly be conceivable under today's platform dictates. The VW program at that time is shown under the cryptic slogan 'On the one hand, on the other hand and also'.

In addition to typical Volkswagen standards like that Beetle and the pontoon-shaped VW 1600, Bus T2, K 70, VW 181, VW-Porsche 914, Karmann-Ghia and of course the VW 411 delight the eye of the beholder. Only the postman Fridolin is missing. The always controversial Type 4, built from August 1968 to May 1974, still managed 355,200 copies despite mediocre measurements, skeptical test reports and booming round table mockery. Thanks to the very successful Variant, the 411 clearly outperformed the mid-range stepbrother VW K 70 from NSU.

Popular among the air-cooled models VW scene

Today the Type 4 is coveted in the air-cooled VW club scene because of its rarity. The former outsider is transforming into a reliable figure of sympathy, which was also shown by the current intensive encounter with him, which for me was the second in my life. I almost bought a 412 LE once - a 73 two-door in Iberian red, original 38,000 km on the odometer, car condition, 3,200 marks.

That was 1985, it was already an exotic one back then, a VW seldom like one Glas or Borgward, which worried me a little: Complex D-Jetronic, difficult spare parts situation - Type 4, a car without a future around 30 years ago?

Late sympathy

Today the question no longer arises, we are grateful for every survivor. Especially when it looks as gorgeous as Robert Lopp's colorado red VW 411 LE. The two-door car from the VW enthusiast from Friedberg near Augsburg is part of a larger collection. Only for the highly effective nominal fee of 15,680 euros would he part with it due to time constraints that only allow occasional movement therapy trips.

Much of what Manfred Jantke once criticized in the test now contributes to the unconditional character formation of a classic . Have ever been a Triumph TR 6 or MG BTest winner? The loud grumbling of the boxer currently sounds pleasantly musical and stimulating. The interior dimensions, which are modest for a mid-range car, make the car cozy and underline the comfort of the wood decor and velor seats. What is astonishing for the VW 411 novice is the completely flat floor of the car without a transmission tunnel and center console, from which only the pedals, the handbrake, the gear stick and the regulating levers for heating and auxiliary heating grow out.

VW 411 with restrained temperament but precise handling

The restrained temperament of the injected, 1.7 liter flat engine goes wonderfully with relaxed driving behind the distinctive three-spoke Steering wheel. Even the design of the VW 411, scolded as clumsy, currently looks more skillful than it did back then. Today a notchback is the exception, even a Porsche Panamera has a dynamic fastback as a sedan.

Our test subject walked around 60,000 kilometers; by VW standards, the four-cylinder boxer engine with a central camshaft and long push rods is straight run in well once. The low-vibration and cultivated engine of the VW 411 hangs well on the gas, suddenly appears liberated after a long warm-up phase and revs up willingly.

It has lost the throttle engine character that is usual at VW, with a nominal speed of 4,900 /min it is already on the level of a 75 hp Porsche 356 C. In general, a Porsche, a recently driven 911 T also seems to accompany me mentally and emotionally during the 411 test drive: The light front end, the precise, playful steering , the pronounced greed for corners with easily provocative but gentle onset of oversteer - that feels so similar, and it is no coincidence.

VW 411 chassis is related to the Porsche 911

The McPherson front axle of the VW 411 is almost identical to the 911, the semi-trailing arm axle dispenses with the mandatory torsion bar springs and now finds its counterpart to the VW-Porsche 914 with coil springs. It shares as harmless Vie r-cylinder variant initially also the 1.7-liter boxer with the mid-range sedan from Wolfsburg.

Only the gearshift of the VW 411 is significantly more precise than that of the sports car, it operates with little effort and comfortably short Because of. The center shift lever functions as a joystick, and depending on the mood, the driver can use the boxer's considerable turning ability or its pleasant elasticity by bubbling along on lonely country roads at low speed in fourth Peugeot 404 does not create the feeling of spontaneous joy and immediate familiarity, as can cars with a coherent, all-round successful technical concept. The strange VW 411 wants to be conquered, its talents only develop for a long timeAcquaintance.

Coronation of the Beetle concept

Then it is reversed, the obvious disadvantages of the small car-typical rear engine concept recede into the background, its velvety driving comfort, the high quality and the unmistakable The boxer sound of the revving engine is fun. The mild age of today's view certainly also contributes to the positive view of the VW 411. The car no longer has to assert itself in the competitive environment, with classics being different is rewarded, weaknesses become strengths, which is called charisma.

This also benefits his worst rival, step brother and model boy in the group test, the VW K 70. But as the crowning glory of the Beetle concept, the VW 411 enjoys a much higher reputation in the VW scene.


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