Tag: Beetle

By on November 8, 2013

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Every couple of years, somebody releases a study claiming to show that the average palate can’t differentiate between a good red wine and a cheap red wine, a good red wine and a good white wine, or a good red wine and a tumbler-full of Thunderbird mixed with antifreeze and raw gasoline. Survey says: it’s all the same juice, right?

Previously, amidst the vineyards of the Napa Valley, EIC Pro Tempore / sommelier Jack Baruth decanted a few forced-induction Germanic vintages and ran us through the tasting notes. He left one machine off – the turbocharged version of VW’s Beetle. So what do we think: GTI wine in a rotund bocksbetuel? (Read More…)

By on April 15, 2013

Redesigning retro is a herculean task. You need to change the vehicle enough to be worth the effort, meanwhile maintaining an iconic retro theme. If you don’t change enough, shoppers won’t see a reason to trade in their old flashback for the new time capsule. Change it too much and you’re left with a caricature. The task is so daunting that few even attempt it. (Just look at the one-hit-wonders: PT Cruiser, HHR, SSR and Thunderbird.) VW on the other hand is different. After all they continued to build and sell the same Beetle with minor tweaks for 65 years straight. If anyone can tweak retro and convince people they need it, it’s VW. Sure enough, 2012 was the best Beetle sales year since 1973. As a chaser to VW’s revived retro-mojo, the Beetle is now offered sans-top and VW tossed us the keys to a brown-on-brown model for a week so we could get our 70s on. Can you dig it?

(Read More…)

By on September 12, 2012

Wolfsburg is working hard on making the (new) Beetle’s image a bit manlier. It hopes to get support for this endeavor from two R-Line packages that are based on the top “Sport” version: an exterior package and an interior package. (Read More…)

By on July 19, 2012

I see many air-cooled Beetles in self-service wrecking yards these days. In fact, I have always seen many VW Type 1s in self-service wrecking yards, going back to my first junkyard adventures in early-80s Oakland. Like any car freak who came of age in that era, I’ve owned some old Beetles, and I can say from experience that there was nothing super about the Super Beetle. In fact, it’s possible that this ’73 is the Super Beetle that I sold in 1983. (Read More…)

By on May 13, 2012

Please believe: car design school is a frickin’ bizarre place. The phrase “I’m surprised you are here and not in medical school” was thrown in my face several times at CCS.  And this verbal diarrhea came from people who take your tuition and are supposed to help you become a designer! But can’t I, a fairly smart South Asian dude, be more than what you assume?

Or do stereotypes exist for a reason? Like the beliefs held about the vehicle in question?

The newest VW Beetle reminds me of that old “Design School Sajeev.” (Read More…)

By on January 4, 2012

Have you heard the old joke about the three Jewish engineers and Henry Ford? This is the version at Snopes.com:

It was a sweltering August day in 1937 when the 3 Cohen brothers entered the posh Dearborn, Michigan, offices of Henry Ford, the car maker.

“Mr. Ford”, announced Norman Cohen, the eldest of the three. “We have a remarkable invention that will revolutionize the automobile industry.”

Ford looked skeptical, but their threat to offer it to the competition kept his interest piqued. “We would like to demonstrate it to you in person”, said Norman.

After a little cajoling, they brought Mr. Ford outside and asked him to enter a black automobile parked in front of the building. Hyman Cohen, the middle brother, opened the door of the car. “Please step inside, Mr. Ford.”

“What!” shouted the tycoon, “Are you crazy? It’s over a hundred degrees in that car!”

“It is”, smiled the youngest brother, Max.; but sit down Mr. Ford, and push the white button.

Intrigued, Ford pushed the button. All of a sudden a whoosh of freezing air started blowing from vents all around the car, and within seconds the automobile was not only comfortable, it was quite cool.

“This is amazing!” exclaimed Ford. “How much do you want for the patent?’

One of the brothers spoke up: “The price is One Million Dollars.” Then he paused.

“And there is something else. The name ‘Cohen Brothers Air Conditioning’ must be stamped right next to the Ford logo on the dash board!”

“Money is no problem,” retorted Ford,” but there is no way I will have a Jewish name next to my logo on my cars!”

They haggled back and forth for a while and finally they settled. Five Million Dollars, and the Cohens’ name would be left off. However, the first names of the Cohen brothers would be forever emblazoned upon the console of every Ford air conditioning system.

And that is why even today, whenever you enter a Ford vehicle, you see those three names clearly printed on the air conditioning control panel……….NORM, HI and MAX

The story isn’t even apocryphal. Except for the part about Ford’s Jew-hatred it’s complete fiction. Willis Carrier invented refrigerant air conditioning and Packard, not Ford, was the first automaker to offer it in a car.

Now, though, did you hear the one about the Jewish engineer that invented the Volkswagen? Actually, that story isn’t a joke, and it’s not fiction, or at least a persuasive case can be made that it’s true.

(Read More…)

By on December 21, 2011

I never was a New Beetle kind of guy. But then I am a guy. Unless a cute car handles like a Miata, I’m not interested. For 2012 Volkswagen has redesigned the New Beetle, dropping the “New” and the bud vase (every review must mention this) in the process of attempting to broaden the car’s appeal. And?

(Read More…)

By on August 12, 2011

I don’t see quite as many Old Beetles on the streets of Denver as I did when I lived on the Island That Rust Forgot, but a few of the clattery old Germans still serve as daily transportation in the Mile High City. Even though I’ve owned several Beetles, I still can’t nail down exact model years at a glance; we’ll leave that to you Volkswagen zealots aficionados. (Read More…)

By on July 16, 2011

Mexico was one of the last markets to build the old VW Bug. The really old one. Mexico remains the center of Beetle-mania. Volkswagen officially began production of the new Beetle in Puebla, Mexico. (Read More…)

By on April 27, 2011


Given the way that Beetles have had all their parts swapped over the decades, I’m always reluctant to try to nail down an exact model year of a street-parked example, particularly when it’s a primered-out survivor owned by a guy who spends a lot of time at junkyards. If we are to go by the taillights and hood latch, this car should be a ’68… or it might be a ’64 with a fender swap… or a ’74 pan with a ’68 body. Anyway, the important thing is that it’s an old air-cooled Volkswagen survivor that gets used as a tow vehicle. (Read More…)

By on April 20, 2011

It’s odd that China’s two largest carmakers, Volkswagen and GM chose Shanghai as the launchpad of their retro cars. After all, the 50s and 60s have zero appeal in China. Nobody thinks of Rock’n’Roll when they think back in China. Those were the forgotten times of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. The iconic cars of China’s past are the Santana, the Buick Century, the Jeep Cherokee of the 1980s and 1990s.

73 years after the original Beetle was launched, 13 years since the first-edition New Beetle came out, a new New Beetle took the stage in Shanghai. (Read More…)

By on October 7, 2010

Once upon a time, there was a Volkswagen executive who couldn’t figure out how to get American consumers emotionally invested in his brand. Then one day it hit him: why not re-skin the Golf as a Beetle? It could be less practical and efficient than its donor car, but baby boomers would buy it in Costco volumes anyway, for the sheer gauzy nostalgia of it.  After flogging that Beetle for 12 years, through two successive updates to the car it was based on, it was time to update the old classic. But how?

Luckily history had an answer. Following the example of Beetle tuner/modders at the end of the original Beetle’s lifespan, VW apparently chopped the roof, exaggerated the fenders and called it good. Perhaps with the goal of making for a more “original” feel, the windscreen appears to have been moved back as well. Unfortunately tough, the change simply emphasizes the front-engine proportions, making the end result more reminiscent of a Morris Minor than the ur-Käfer. But, as the Volkswagen executive had learned by now, Americans don’t notice that stuff. The only remaining problem: how to avoid calling it “The new New Beetle.”

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