50 years after, a look back at the first modern Volkswagen

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50 years after, a look back at the first modern Volkswagen

Volkswagen K70 – a classic from Salzgitter

From the launch of the Beetle through the Bus, the 411 and other models, Volkswagen built all of its cars around air-cooled engines mounted at the rear. This approach had tremendous benefits, but it was clear by 1970 that the future would require a different approach – and in October of that year, Volkswagen unveiled the model that set the tone for decades to come.

Mit klarer Kante aus Salzgitter: Der Volkswagen K70 (1970 bis 1975)

While not imported to the United States, the Volkswagen K70 notchback sedan marked a dramatic change in the company’s direction. Developed by NSU, a small German automaker that Volkswagen had bought in 1969, the K70 featured a clean, classic design with a water-cooled four-cylinder engine powering the front wheels.

At the time, NSU and other automakers had been experimenting with other engine types and layouts, including rotary, Wankel-style engines that might offer the best combination of power and efficiency. In the K70, the result was a smaller sedan that offered ample interior and cargo space for its time, along with a well-tuned independent suspension. The 1.8-liter engine’s 70-hp output was adequate for its era, but less than sporty.

One of the main emphases of the K70 was on active and passive safety. Features such as a reinforced passenger compartment, crumple zones at front and rear, a fuel tank at the rear in the protected area and preparation for safety belts on all seats as a standard feature set new standards.

Clear lines and generous space form Claus Luthes design

Built in a new factory in Salzgitter, the K70 was announced as “a new Volkswagen, different to all the others made to date.” Although it was groundbreaking, the K70 wasn’t a huge seller, but it laid the groundwork for Volkswagen to develop the Golf and Passat. And 50 years later, its design has aged gracefully into a true classic for collectors worldwide.

Clear lines and generous space form Claus Luthes design

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