In the 1960s, Volkswagen began creating a replacement for its popular Volkswagen Käfer model, which has been produced since 1938. The EA 266 was one of the possible options that could replace Käfer. Developming the EA 266 started in 1966.
Several options were considered: with a front- and mid-engine layout. In 1967 they stopped at a two-door four-seat hatchback with the rear engine compartment. In the 1967-1971, about 50 pre-production cars were made with various types of engine: 4-cylinder petrol engines with volumes from 1.3 to 1.6 liters and power from 65 to 105 hp. The engine was a four-cylinder with water cooling and OHC valve control, which was installed as a sub-engine longitudinally in front of the rear axle. The gearbox is manual 4-speed There were also two and four-door body style.
The mid-engine layoute caused difficulties due to its position in the vehicle. Its heat and noise were too high, the accessibility for maintenance was limited and the weight distribution brought a difficult manageable driving behavior especially on wet roads with it. The EA 266 is a approx. 3.9 m long hatchback. The volume of the front trunk is 300 liters, rear trunk — 340 liters. With the strongest engine, the car should accelerate from 0 to 62 mph (0 to 100 km/h) in 8.5 seconds and reach a top speed of almost 120 mph (190 km/h).
Development of the EA 266 was discontinued in 1971 because of the crisis with a drop in sales (as early as 1971, the VW profit had fallen by 94% to DM 12 million). There was another problem. The cost of the EA 266 had increased so much that a production car based on the EA 266 would have been too expensive to sell. The EA 266 would have to be priced at the level of the VW K 70 or Audi 100 in order to be economical. That would have meant a selling price of around 10,000 DM. The development should have cost 250 million DM, other sources speak of 400 million or 200 million DM.
At the behest of Leiden, 50 gearboxes, 100 test motors and 48 EA-266 prototypes were to be destroyed. For this purpose tanks were used, which rolled over almost all prototypes on the test area Porsches in Weissach. Two EA 266 have been preserved, one of which is in Volkswagen Automuseum.
- Length: 3870 mm
- Width: 1675 mm
- Height: 1430 mm
- Wheelbase: 2438 mm
- Weight: ca. 800 kg
- Engines: from 1.3 to 1.6 liters, 65 to 105 hp
- Gearbox: 4-speed, manual
- Top speed: 120 mph (190 km/h) with 105 hp engine
- 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h): 8.5 seconds with 105 hp engine
- Totally made: 50 pcs
- Years: 1967-1971
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