R.A-S.H: The Volkswagen K70 (LS)


Good evening, and welcome back to the series that gets more attention than Scarlett Johannson driving a transparent AMC Pacer in the nude. It’s part twelve.

We’re notching the dial o’ intrigue up a couple of clicks, here, to take a look at what the Germans were up to in the early seventies, namely VW who were moving away from air-cooled tradition for the first time.

It’s the K70. LS, to be precise.


“See it, Drive it, Choose it, Own it, Love it, Buy it”

Gotta admire their confidence. Indeed, with the absorption of NSU Volkswagen were either feeling pretty sure of themselves, or wanted to look that way. The NSU-developed K70 was intended to herald a new beginning; to distance VW from the popular-as-breathing Beetle, and move upmarket. They summed things up rather piquantly;

“We made the VW K70 LS for the people who liked everything about Volkswagen. Except the cars.”

Brilliant. And true, because the package here was virtually the mirror-opposite of the Beetle. Front engined, front-drive, water cooled, four door. And on this LS model, actual power from the 100hp 1.8 litre four. And all the way through this publication VW extol the features of this exciting new offering with their typical sense of humour.

“There are large, easy to see rear light clusters, and the wrap round rear bumper is rubber faced. Just in case things go bump in the night.”


It’s a sharp looking thing, the K70, clearly of NSU stock, the centre hull is very similar (but not the same) as on the car’s more advanced (and more controversial) sister, the RO80 which was also a Claus Luthe masterpiece.

“The K70 LS is progressive for a family saloon and revolutionary for a Volkswagen. It’s crammed with advanced engineering and design features. That’s why it goes, stops and handles as well as it does.”

Which was to say, far better than a Beetle. VMax was quoted as a hundred, and it took 8.5 seconds to reach half that velocity, which put it in direct contention with the competition. But more important for the cause of VWs ongoing success and reputation-building exercise, was quality. You get the feeling that this was the copy-writer’s favourite subject.


The poet behind the typewriter explained:

“….because it’s one of the latest additions to the Volkswagen  family, our inspectors are really keen to do a good job of inspecting. And more importantly, the inspectors who inspect the inspectors feel the same way. It seems no matter how different a car we make, we can’t make it any differently.”


The K70’s broadly successful mission ended in ’75, with the launch of the first Passat; a car which, though good, wasn’t nearly as interesting as this one. Remaining ’70s are popular among the VeeDub posse, so I’m unlikely to ever drive, let alone own one. But, hey, A.L.I.O.T.B.

<Disclaimer:- All photos were taken by the author on his bathroom floor and are of genuine original manufacturer publicity material. All copyright rights remain in the possession of the manufacturer, who nowadays don’t really care whether you love their cars or not. As long as you buy them . On finance, preferably>

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19 responses to “R.A-S.H: The Volkswagen K70 (LS)”

  1. Number_Six Avatar

    Tumblehome? Nein, nein, nein!! Body roll? Ja!!!!!!!

  2. Gooberpeaz Avatar

    I've always wanted to see a transparent AMC Pacer in the nude.

  3. Vavon Avatar

    The K70′s broadly successful mission??? Volkswagen only sold 210.000 of these in 5 years…
    The car also gained a reputation for rampant body corrosion from which it never recovered.
    That's probably the second most important reason why they are so rare!
    <img src="http://volkswagen-photo.v.o.pic.centerblog.net/129fa09a.jpg"&gt;

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      Yeah, you're right, broadly successful is only accurate if you put aside issues like reputation and, er, sucess. I maintain though that the leap from Beetle and Type 4 to Passat was easier with something else "normal" in between.

  4. From_a_Buick_6 Avatar

    Were these ever sold in the U.S.?

    1. dead_elvis Avatar

      No. First watercooled VW we got in the States was the Dasher (Passat everywhere else, I think), shortly before the Rabbit.

  5. mallthus Avatar

    I've been so bitter about VW's takeover of NSU for so long, that I've never really given these cars a fair shake. When I see them, I see the car (and company) that killed the Ro80.
    The realities of NSU's and the Ro80's failures that led to the VW takeover rarely get in my way.
    Still, looking at the brochure, I'm reminded that these are attractive cars in their own right.

    1. AteUpWithMotor Avatar

      Well, VW did work fairly seriously on a second-generation Ro80, and the Audi 200 came pretty close to getting the 1,493 cc KKM871 engine. Ferdinand Piëch said he finally killed the project because he felt the Wankel's poor thermal efficiency and heavy fuel consumption were not solvable; he concluded that diesel was a better bet for the European market, which turned out to be true.

  6. JayP2112 Avatar

    Squint your eyes, take a shot of Jager and you'll see the RO80.
    <img src="http://www.curbsideclassic.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/NSU-Ro80-fq.jpg&quot; width="450">
    The NSU kickn' it with the Wankel while the K70 used a conventional engine. Interesting stuff- VW bought NSU and wanted to get into the 'real' car market. They used the NSU, gave it a conventional body and engine. Kinda like the Audi A4 vs the Passat but in reverse and not the engine thing.
    Lane Motor has an NSU RO80 on display. Check it out if you're ever in Nashville.

    1. Devin Avatar

      Claus Luthe has slowly become one of my favorite designers as I realize how many things I adore he designed – these included. A shame about how his career ended.

      1. JayP2112 Avatar

        Wow. I had no idea.
        The B5 A4 has hints of the RO80 in it. 25 years heads of its time.

      2. Rover1 Avatar

        Yes, the Audi 50 (VW Polo),Audi 100 (5000) interior and BMWs,E28, E30, E32, E36 (all variants), E31 (although the 8 series always came across to me, as a bit lumpen,as if someone else had fiddled with the design.) and the E34. He was involved in ,or responsible for, some of the best looking, cleanest detailed,aerodynamic, and rational car designs ever made. He was rated highly by his peers, Paul Frere ,and Bruno Sacco and Ercole Spada. The E36 & E32 ranges in particular are two of my favorites, and as time passes ,will I think be recognised as masterpieces of modern industrial design -as well as car styling, like the RO80 is now acknowledged.

    2. AteUpWithMotor Avatar

      Had the Typ 70 actually been built as an NSU, the piston engine would have been standard, but they planned to do a more expensive rotary version, probably sharing the same KKM613 engine as the Ro80 — sort of a rotary BMW 2002. VW didn't do that because the deal they eventually made with NSU's minority shareholders (who had objected strenuously to the terms of the Audi merger) would have meant paying royalties on any rotary-powered, VW-badged car.

  7. Alff Avatar

    Nice Audi Fox.

  8. schigleymischke Avatar

    Are the pictures sideways for anybody else?

  9. Kris_01 Avatar

    VMax? Someone a Soundtraxx DCC fan?

  10. Rover1 Avatar

    Can anyone imagine any car appearing now with this airy glass to metal ratio. All that lovely visibility is apparently not wanted, nowadays while we hunker down in our little mobile bunkers which have to keep the nasty, threatening,scary, outside world out-or look like they do.

  11. racer139 Avatar

    Where all the Today material at.