Type 3 Comes Back to the Family After 38 Years Away

Volkswagen fan Lynn Pfenning wanted his dad’s Type 3 Fastback. It only took him 38 years to find it and four more to get it back on the road.

We remember far too well the cars our parents had when we were growing up, but few of them were as cool as the 1967 Volkswagen Type 3, and Pfenning’s car was more special to him than most. The family bought it new in 1967 after totaling their 1965 Beetle after hitting a cow in rural North Dakota. The Type 3 stayed in the family for eight years before being sold to a local for a friend of Pfenning’s to drive. Which has to be hard when it’s a car that, as Pfenning said, “my job every Saturday was to wash and detail the family car before church.”

Life went on and Pfenning went to trade school to become a construction electrician, working at an auto plant for 20 years. During that time he acquired a 1936 Beetle as a collector car, but never forgot about the Type 3.

“Over the years, we may have gone our separate ways, but I always kept track of that car,” said Pfenning. “I would check in every five or some years to see if he was willing to sell me it.” The owner wouldn’t budge.

In 2013, he decided to call one last time, and thanks to some haggling, the car’s history, and, as VW says “a small nudge from the owner’s wife,” Pfenning bought the car for a fraction the asking price.

It had spent years as a farm car, meaning loads of dents, damage, and plenty of body fill. The engine was damaged thanks to a hidden mouse nest that caught fire, and the floors had seen too much water for too long on the inside. “It was like peeling back an onion – once I started pulling back the layers the car told a very different story,” Pfenning said.

But this was the car that got away. So he worked long hours, overtimes, and covered vacations to make up for the $40,000 restoration job. “I cut out all the rust and replaced it with new metal. All the nuts and bolts were replaced or refurbished,” said Pfenning.

In 2018, the car was done, and Pfenning entered it in the North Dakota State Fair, winning first place for best antique car. So he took his now 83-year old father for a ride as part of the fair’s parade.

“He couldn’t believe it was the same car,” Pfenning said. “He smiled the entire parade – which lasted nearly two hours – yelling, in his distinct German dialect, ‘It’s a Volkswagen, and I bought it brand new!’ He was so excited.” “Sharing this experience with him … has made every penny worth it,” Pfenning added.