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Truly terrible cars - Volkswagen 411 (1971 - 1974)

Posted by David Newton at

With the runaway success of the Beetle -- a car Volkswagen had already tried, and failed, to replace with the Type 3 Fastback and Squareback -- the Germans figured the American market was ripe for a luxury-oriented VW.

It was a brilliant plan that might have worked were it not for VW's complete misunderstanding of the US luxury market. Americans associated luxury with size, power, and prestige. Which of these characteristics did the 411 posess? None -- it was small, slow, and came from a brand associated with unwashed hippies. The 411 did, however, have an automatic transmission, which managed to sap what little acceleration the 411's tiny air-cooled engine could muster, along with a complicated fuel-injection system that eliminated the simplicity which had endeared the Beetle to US buyers. The 411 disappeared after a few years.

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