Buying a Type 3
Following some recent tales of woe, it seems worth emphasising some of the problems which are discovered after buying one of our favourite cars. Although written about Type 3s, much will apply equally to Type 4s.
Firstly, RUST. You must appreciate that no British Type 3 is totally free of rust. Even the best are rusting between spot-welded joints, and inside box-sections. It depends on storage, usage and maintenance just how long it will remain hidden. Much lurks behind factory underseal, and bodged repairs. Be suspicious of any recent underseal, or unevenness, bulges etc.
Chief areas of concern (because they are less obvious) are:-
1) Front axle tubes behind rubber mountings, bump-stop arms and shock-absorber supports.
2) Floor-pan edges, around bolts and their load-spreading plates.
3) Inner sills and floorpan; lift carpets - clean and dry, or damp and rusty?
4) Body flange where it mounts on floorpan edges.
5) Rear lower seat-belt mounting area.
6) Rear suspension cross-tube, side mounts and particularly upper body mounts.
7) Rear bumper mounts, and wheel arches.
More obvious problems may well include the front inner wings, bumper mounts, and spare wheel well, plus the bottoms of all the removable panels and almost anywhere on the front wings. Don't assume you've found it all, even after a good look. If you can't weld, and/or money's tight, look even more carefully!
A tired paint job won't be hiding many faults (they will be obvious), but look for signs of a recent respray where bonnet and boot openings meet the outside paint; it's unlikely to have been painted inside as well. Peel back window rubbers to check. It's surprising how much a respray hides (for a time).
While interior condition doesn't affect the drive or MoT, unless seats or certain other things are insecure or broken, it can be quite pricey to repair to original appearance. Don't forget the mechanicals either, particularly if you will be paying for any work. That includes blue smoke from the engine, graunching gears, steering that pulls to one side, brakes that do the same or nothing at all.
If the car isn't cheap, it's even more vital it's a good one, so you need a good look in daylight! Better still, arrange for an MoT where you can watch and discuss it with the tester; it's cheaper and quicker than the AA or RAC inspection, but you'll still get a professional opinion, a full MoT if it's good, and a negotiating lever if anything doubtful is found. After all, £45 to check if it's a good car could save a lot more if it isn't!
© VW Type 3 & 4 Club; 1998 - 2019