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In the 1930s, if you had the means, you could have custom coachbuilder Fleetwood fabricate a one-of-a-kind Cadillac just the way you like it. Well-heeled customers would peruse a build book to pick and choose the accoutrements they most liked. About 15 months later, their custom-bodied Cadillac would be delivered for their enjoyment.

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Whatever Volkswagen has done to get to the position of dominance in the European – and indeed the global auto industry, it's clearly been working. But some of its decisions still leave us scratching our heads. The Phaeton is one such four-wheeled decision.

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The Volkswagen Group had a whole lot and then more to show off at the Frankfurt Motor Show this year. There were about a dozen vehicles rolled out at the pre-show VW Group evening, and then more once the show opened the following morning. For the Volkswagen brand itself, the new production Up! was the main focus, sharing the stage with the Nils concept, the Beetle R showcar and the Polo rally car. But there was, according to the UK's CAR magazine, to be one more major debut.

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2011 Volkswagen Phaeton – Click above for high-res gallery

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2011 Volkswagen Phaeton – Click above for high-res image gallery

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2011 Volkswagen Phaeton – Click above for high-res image gallery

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2010 Volkswagen Phaeton Exclusive - Click above for high-res image gallery

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Volkswagen Phaeton - Click above for high-res image gallery

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The Volkswagen Phaeton may not have gotten much love in the States, but V-Dub's range-topping saloon has soldiered on in Europe, undergoing a series of minor tweaks since its introduction earlier this decade. For 2011, the Phaeton is finally due for a comprehensive facelift, and these newest spy shots show a new fascia is in the works.

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Click above for a high-res gallery of the 2008 Volkswagen Phaeton.

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Volkswagen has been struggling here in the US, but in emerging markets the German automaker is among the best. VW has been a big player in China since way before it was cool, and now Mr. Winterkorn and co. are focusing their attention on the booming India market. VW is planning on producing 240,000 vehicles per year in India by 2012, and it's using two small cars to supply much of the volume. The size and price of the Polo compact and the upcoming Up! minicar are perfect for the India market, an

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Although it came as a surprise to most (okay, all), Volkswagen plans to revive the Phaeton nameplate and possibly make a play for buyers of more high-budget coupes like the Mercedes SL. A few spy shots surfaced last month showing a test mule of VW's intentions, and although little was gleaned from the misshapen two-door, artists contracted by Automobile decided to take a whack at styling the Phaeton coupe in the virtual realm.

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Click image for hi-res gallery of the facelifted VW Phaeton

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