VW Squareback – The Stylish VW Station Wagon
The VW Squareback holds a special place in automotive history as an exceptionally sleek and practical evolution of the venerable VW Beetle. Introduced for the 1962 model year, the Squareback paired the Beetle’s rear-engine layout with an expansive yet stylish station wagon body. Its airy greenhouse, fold-down rear seats, and large rear hatch brought enhanced utility without sacrificing the Beetle’s fun spirit. The Squareback offered a unique combination of versatility, economy and panache still appealing today.
Unconventional Station VW Squareback Styling
The Squareback exterior branched dramatically from the Beetle norm with its wide, flat roofline and near-vertical tail. Glass area increased significantly, culminating in a massive rear window that opened via a tailgate. Full roof racks added carrying capacity. Yet the Squareback retained the recognizable Beetle front fascia with its rounded shape and sloping nose. This blending of sleek European wagon and quirky economical roots created an endearing look still coveted today.
Roomy, Flexible Interior
The Squareback interior maximized perceived spaciousness thanks to the airy thin-pillar greenhouse and fold-flat rear seats. The rear bench could accommodate three passengers or substantial cargo with its partition folded down. Front seats reclined fully to facilitate napping during road trips. Standard roof rails enabled additional carrying capacity. Campers appreciated built-in conveniences like interior grab handles. The Squareback delivered comfort for extended journeys along with ample versatility.
Trusted Rear-Engine Design
Motivation came from VW’s venerable air-cooled flat-4 rear-mounted engine, displacing either 40 or 50 horsepower initially. This rearward placement optimized the interior room and afforded well-balanced handling. Models equipped with fuel injection and larger 1.6-liter motors became available starting in 1968. While not fast by modern standards, these durable, torquey engines enabled relaxed highway cruising and efficient motoring – traditional Beetle strengths.
Nimble Handling and Ride Comfort
The Squareback’s rear weight bias imparted nimble reflexes belying its utilitarian role. Independent front suspension handled road imperfections adeptly. Light steering afforded maneuverability in tight quarters. Engine vibration was subdued through new fluid-filled engine mounts. While basic, the Squareback’s chassis delivered comfort, economy, and surprising agility thanks to thoughtful engineering. This unexpected verve complemented its impressive practicality.
Upscale Beetle Alternative
The Squareback offered a more premium experience compared to the sparsely equipped Beetle. An optional automatic transmission reduced the hassle. Heated rear window, AM radio, and interior electrics helped justify its higher cost over a basic Beetle. Range-topping models like the Panamericana even boasted air conditioning, roof rack, and special two-tone paint – posh features for thrifty VWs. For buyers desiring enhanced refinement, the Squareback is delivered.
VW Squareback Lasting Versatility and Style
The Squareback remained in VW’s US lineup through the 1973 model year, by which time over 260,000 had been produced. More than just curiosity, its winning formula of space, economy, style, and panache retains broad appeal today. The Squareback’s flowing yet upright styling stands out as a high point of mid-century wagon design. For VW collectors and enthusiasts, the innovative Squareback holds special status for its blend of personality and functionality.