This Porsche is the Volkswagen Golf mid-engine and rear-wheel drive that Volkswagen did not dare to launch
These days you spoke about a period of history which, without doubt, would mark the future of Volkswagen. There was a time in which the situation of the German mark was certainly delicate, much more even than in the last few months, after uncover the scandal of the TDI. Although the Beetle was still produced at an unstoppable rate, at the end of the sixties, Volkswagen was in need of a replacement for the legendary Beetle, which had to happen since the Second World War. The oil crisis was beginning to be convinced that it was necessary a new paradigm of the car. And in the meantime, Volkswagen was spending huge amounts of money in a glimpse of how the future would be the “car of the German people”, while in its subsidiaries, Porsche, Audi (Auto Union and NSU) did the same with projects that ex-post this may seem hilarious, such as the Projekt EA 266 of Porsche, a draft of the compact central engine at later disposition that could well have been the Volkswagen Golf.
Although the Volkswagen Golf finally was born, following the work of Audi and NSU, there was a time when Volkswagen was on the verge of giving the green light to the Porsche project, with a mid-engine ahead of the rear axle.
While Volkswagen began to experiment with the platform of front-wheel drive NSU and Audi, Porsche had already been working on its own replacement for the Beetle. What Porsche? The amazement that must have felt Rudolf Leiding to assume the leadership of the Volkswagen Group should be very similar to that imagine that you will feel a reader not initiated in the realization that not only Porsche was working on a project away from its sports tradition, but also in the Volkswagen were developing very different products, from various brands and projects completely separate, to achieve the same goal, to create a successor to the Beetle.
To make matters worse, the Project EA 266 was already very advanced, enough to get a green light and put in the dealers for a new compact vehicle for all audiences. Without going any further it is estimated that Porsche went on to create more than 50 prototypes, most of which had already gone through his phase of testing and tuning.
Porsche had the bright idea of installing the engine ahead of the rear axle, and below the seats, in the disposal of the sandwich, ensuring a good loading space in the rear trunk and under the front hood.
But what it was the Project EA 266? If we compare it with what would later be the Volkswagen Golf, the Porsche project can be incredible, almost a madness. But if we look at it with perspective, we will see that in some aspects was not so different from the concept followed by many utilities modern, and that to maximize the interior space, with some external dimensions minimized, Porsche had applied innovative strategies for the time.
The EA 266 was born in 1969 and enjoyed a four-cylinder engine and liquid cooling, really powerful, with 105 HP and a top speed of 189 km/h. We think that was not so far from the figures of a Porsche 911 2.0-liter from the first series.
What is interesting is that Porsche had the bright idea of holding the engine in central position, and later, that is to say, slightly ahead of the rear axle. But also made it so that this is positioned just below the rear seat, in an arrangement type sandwich, very common today to install electric motors and batteries without affecting the load space or passenger comfort. Thanks to this, the Porsche EA 266 had a good tailgate after tailgate, and a space for additional load on the front hood.
Imagine that Leiding was to take the hands to the head to see the investment that had made the mark in this project, and especially how Volkswagen had been working on lines so different, to finally opt for the one that had bet Audi and NSU, the front-engine, front-wheel drive. Evil tongues say (flussigmagazine) Leiding not only ordered the cancellation of the project, but also the destruction of the sketches and most of the prototypes, which would have been crushed by a tank Leopard. I have the feeling that this is nothing more than a legend, which is unlikely to be faithful to what actually happened, in any case would have been an anecdote, the less curious.
The arrival of Leiding precipitated the evolution towards the concept that in the end would be applied in the Volkswagen Golf, the Polo, the Scirocco, the Passat and the Jetta. But there was a time in which Volkswagen had thought that the proposal of the EA 266 was pointless. They carried out intensive testing, and start-up works to a point, for more than three years, the EA 266 practically had a green light to succeed the Beetle. And even came to glimpse a whole range of products that would revolve around this philosophy, including a coupé 2+2 seats (that would finally be the Scirocco), a van, and even designs of roadsters and sports.