Prototypes

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Volkswagen.

Developing, improving, discarding, starting again, testing, challenging, being bold, thinking differently, daring to break new ground: the development division at Volkswagen has always had to be at the top of its game to drive the marque forward and establish a basis for long-term success. Evidence of this commitment can be seen in the countless prototypes, test vehicles and concept cars, only a few of which ever made it to the mass production stage. The world of ‘Prototypes’ at the Volkswagen AutoMuseum focuses on one particular question which occupied the developers many decades ago: how do you find a successor to a global success like the Beetle?

As a little foretaste, here is a small selection of our prototypes:



Volkswagen EA 47-12, 1955/56

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Year of manufacture

1955/56

Engine

four-cylinder boxer, air-cooled

Power

30 hp / 22 kW

Engine size

1192 cc

Top speed

80 km/h

The EA 47-12 is the twelfth of 15 prototypes produced in the period between mid-1953 and the end of 1956. EA stands for Entwicklungsauftrag – which means ‘development assignment’ – and it was an initial reaction to the demands for a modern successor to the Beetle. The Turin-based automobile design company Ghia conceived and produced a total of 15 bodies, the styling of which was heavily reminiscent of the Karmann Ghia. The prototype was also at the cutting edge of its time from a technical perspective, with a transverse link on the front axle, torsion bar suspension on the rear wheels and fully synchronised four-speed gearbox.

Volkswagen EA 47-12 01

Volkswagen EA 97, 1960

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Year of manufacture

1960

Engine

four-cylinder boxer, air-cooled

Power

30 hp / 22 kW

Engine size

1192 cc

Top speed

145 km/h

The original aim of the EA 97 was also to find a successor to the Beetle. In the course of its development, which began in 1957, the stylists in Wolfsburg broke away from the Beetle form and were drawn towards a purely pontoon body like the one found on the Type 3 being developed at the same time, which was due to be mass-produced in 1961 as the Volkswagen 1500. After a pilot run of 200 cars, however, the project was abandoned: the EA 97 was positioned too close to the Beetle and the Type 3. In 1969 it provided the basis for the ‘Brasilia’ – the Brazilian VW subsidiary VW do Brasil produced the compact car until 1982.

Volkswagen EA 97 01

Volkswagen EA 142, 1966

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Year of manufacture

1966

Engine

four-cylinder boxer, air-cooled

Power

68 hp / 50 kW

Engine size

1679 cc

Top speed

145 km/h

The road which led to the Volkswagen Type 4, which made its debut in 1968 as the 411, was long and varied. In its developmental phase, the Volkswagen designers experimented with a number of different technologies. The model on display here – a 1966 EA 142 prototype – represents the final technical concept, if not the final bodywork design. Volkswagen also remained faithful to the rear-mounted engine in the mid-range vehicles, but switched from a notchback to a fastback. The monocoque design was new. In terms of style, the EA 142 was influenced by Pininfarina.

Volkswagen EA 142 01

Volkswagen EA 276, 1969

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Year of manufacture

1969

Engine

four-cylinder boxer, air-cooled

Power

44 hp / 32 kW

Engine size

1493 cc

Top speed

130 km/h

Many different roads led to the new Volkswagen Golf – the EA 276 was one of them. Its concept bore some of the features found on the later successful model, such as the front-mounted engine with front-wheel drive and the hatchback with large tailgate. Under the bonnet, however, was the familiar air-cooled boxer engine from the Beetle instead of the four-cylinder, water-cooled in-line engine found on the Golf later on – primarily to save on development costs. It remained a one-off and not fully functional concept car.

Volkswagen EA 276 01

Volkswagen EA 272, 1972

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Year of manufacture

1972

Engine

four-cylinder in-line, water-cooled

Power

55 hp / 42 kW

Engine size

1297 cc

Top speed

147 km/h

To replace the rear-mounted 1600 engine (Type 3) the development division at Volkswagen devised the EA 272 front-wheel-drive concept at the beginning of the 1970s, on which the engine was mounted transversely between the front wheels to save space. In favour of rational production within the Volkswagen Group, the management board opted to adopt the Audi 80 concept: the Passat on which it was based appeared in 1973 with a longitudinal engine.

Volkswagen EA 272 01