NZ Classic Driver
Volkswagen Type 4: The Final Rearengined VW Cars (Veloce)
Marc Cranswick ISBN 978 1 787115 22 4 Review copy supplied by the publisher (veloce.co.uk)
The VW 411 and 412 represented a radical shift from the one-model policy VW advocated under the leadership of Heinz Nordhoff. With these better-equipped and more luxurious models, VW hoped to capture the burgeoning middle class market already being heavily exploited by rival auto-makers. Cranswick, probably quite rightly, concludes that as the 1970s dawned, the Beetle’s main attributes – thrift and dependability – were becoming of less interest to increasingly affluent customers. Instead they were buying the rather more modern offerings from rivals such as BMW and Fiat. Cranswick documents the changes that swept through VW following Nordhoff’s death, and the eventual shift towards a water-cooled future led by an ex-Ford executive, Toni Schmucker. This section of the book makes for informative reading and is well laid out and organised.
However, Cranswick chooses not to include a less than chronological account of the 411 and 412’s development, and at times it all gets a little hard to follow, while an appendix on sporting VWs illustrates the author’s lack of focus as the cars included have little to do with the Type 4 models.
As an aside, I was also intrigued by Cranswick’s inclusion in this book of a number of seemingly random photos showing Japanese actor and model Hidemi Aoki posing alongside various cars (none of them being a 411 or 412). There’s no mention of Aoki in the text, and little information in the captions accompanying the photos. Oddly, she also makes similarly unheralded appearances in Cranswick on Camaro 1967–1981. A quick Google search revealed that Cranswick founded and administers a Facebook fan page for Hidemi Aoki! $70 | Review by Allan Walton