The Truth About Cars » Beetle http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:00:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Beetle http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Roadside Temptation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/roadside-temptation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/roadside-temptation/#comments Wed, 06 Aug 2014 11:30:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=882306 Just a little ways ahead is your favorite spot on the whole trip. It’s a place you always look for as you drive by, craning your neck and slowing down to take in the view. You’ve never stopped there, though. Whether it’s a spouse, the kids, or just a nagging commitment, something always gets in […]

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Just a little ways ahead is your favorite spot on the whole trip. It’s a place you always look for as you drive by, craning your neck and slowing down to take in the view. You’ve never stopped there, though. Whether it’s a spouse, the kids, or just a nagging commitment, something always gets in the way. Or maybe it’s your guilty conscience holding you back. This time, though, you’ve made up your mind. You’re going to stop and have a real look-see around the place. Your pulse quickens as you get closer.

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                Don’t worry; you’re hardly alone. Every car nut falls prey to the temptation at one point or another. Everyone has their own particular affinities, but broadly speaking, the car hoard is a universal attraction. There’s always one in particular that bedevils you, gets inside your head, and demands to be investigated more fully. Whether it’s a scruffy towing and repair place, an old house by the highway, or just an open field, it’s out there somewhere.

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                For me, it was this roadside stash of VWs in northeast Alabama. After several passes by, I gave into temptation. There was no fence, no signs, and no junkyard dog guarding the gravel lot, so I was able to mill about at leisure. My non-enthusiast traveling companion was suitably supportive, even if he didn’t quite understand my excitement.

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                What made this particular collection interesting to me was that it wasn’t strictly segregated by propulsive power. VW enthusiasts tend to be divided into air-cooled and water-cooled camps, with a big generational gap between the two. In this case, several Westmoreland-produced water-cooled VWs were jumbled in with a bunch of Beetles and two Karmann Ghias. That included two Rabbit GTIs, which weren’t rusty but which were disappearing into the underbrush.

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                It also included this rare Rabbit-based Pickup, also known as the Caddy. Unfortunately, it had a much more pervasive case of car cancer. By the looks of the tires, it hadn’t gone anywhere for a very long time and wouldn’t be moving soon.

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                There were the carcasses of several Beetles strewn around the place, including the shell of this rare Sun Bug. Most of them appeared to be beyond saving, but perhaps not for a dedicated VW freak. Doors, fenders, and other parts were there, arranged in stacks and piles. There was a bright yellow Beetle that looked freshly restored in the back of the lot. Maybe this is the parts cache for an enthusiast keeping other VWs on the road.

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                Unfortunately, there was no one around to ask. And there were no signs indicating whether or not this was a commercial enterprise, a private collection, or both. It was a Sunday, and the service station next door was closed. The two places sort of spilled into one another, as is often the case with these kinds of hoards. I’d like to know if anything is potentially for sale. The metal building behind them all was also quite intriguing- what other treasures might it hold inside? Reluctantly, I moved on. I haven’t given up hope, though; this might not be the last word on this collection. Check the thumbnails below for more images.

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Vellum Venom: Honda N600 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/vellum-venom-honda-n600/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/vellum-venom-honda-n600/#comments Mon, 04 Aug 2014 12:57:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=880466 What’s the difference between car design and styling? My stint at CCS in Detroit makes me think styling is the shallow, frilly, cosmetic side of car design. Freshman designers are (were?) trained to focus on styling, but anyone integrating with marketing/accounting/engineering departments after school knows the real deal. They gotta know car design. The folly […]

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What’s the difference between car design and styling? My stint at CCS in Detroit makes me think styling is the shallow, frilly, cosmetic side of car design. Freshman designers are (were?) trained to focus on styling, but anyone integrating with marketing/accounting/engineering departments after school knows the real deal. They gotta know car design.

The folly of a sheltered life aside (don’t us delusional autobloggers know it?) the Honda N600’s heavily constrained blueprint came to life with nearly to zero style.

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Is this a golf cart with mad retro styling? Those pub style tables could seemingly support the N600’s shockingly small footprint. Except not, but compare the N600’s seats to the chairs. Then note how “open” the greenhouse is relative to the diminutive body underneath. Like many of our younger readers, I never saw an N600 in person…they actually sold a car this small in America?

photo credit: imcbd.org

My only recollection of the N600 was “CHiPs” reruns as a kid. Watching a huge guy destroy a perfectly servicable machine horrified took me aback, yet most viewers probably found it entertaining.

Be it Architecture, Graphic, Product or Car design; I wonder if designers recoil in horror when their art (so to speak) extends past its prime in such a public manner. It’s gotta hurt.

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To see it is to understand the term “bare bones.” With a healthy smattering of chrome, that is. The N600 cleanly mounts headlight pods, a toothy grille and a subtle emblem into its tiny body. The signal lights are an unfortunate afterthought. But the massive bumper must be a last minute addition for the American market. It’s an interesting dynamic, but like damn near any car from the early-to-mid 70s, looks better with small bumpers.

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This emblem, like the bodywork, has been refinished. This blend of midcentury modern in the “H” with a prominent model designation within a clean wedge of a badge does work. But the dual grille texture (metal bars with latticework behind) is an unexpected surprise, adding depth and…um…excitement?

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Shame about the protective bumper tubing: note how the hood tapers down to the grille and effortlessly surrounds the headlight’s northern hemisphere. Without that merry-go-round grab handle, the N600 would be an appealing little car.

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Even better, there’s no odd cut line separating the front fascia from the headlights. And there’s the hood’s logical end point at the headlight’s center line. This ability to hide cut lines at natural transition points is something we love in today’s Aston Martin, and rarely elsewhere.

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Too bad Aston craftsmanship is so damn expensive: exposed bolts/screws and slip-fit panels are the marks of a super cheap whip.

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This wee machine can’t fit all its mechanical bits inside the body!

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I’m enamored with the N600 from this angle: looking like the Plymouth from Stephen King’s “Christine.”

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Sadly all the subtle integration, the blend of flat planes and voluptuous curves of the front end absolutely disappear once you turn the corner. VW Beetles and MINI Coopers rest easy: this is design over styling.

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Some strange bits: the blocky, stagnant negative area making a hood valley, on something small enough to need no contouring for curbside appeal. And the teardrop bulge, which I was couldn’t verify was needed, as the hood wouldn’t open. A tricky latch, that!

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The washer nozzle is adorable.

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The hood vents cleanly integrate into the N600’s form, even if they shouldn’t need to “fight” the valley in the hood. The simple cowl treatment looks clean, staying that way those who battle snowfall or falling leaves/debris.

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Wait, where did all the round-ish and somewhat appealing style go? Uber static lines! Gone, in the name of design?

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Afterthought chrome aside (needed for chrome hungry Americans?), there’s nothing appealing from this angle. It’s in stark contrast to the front.

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Much like the grille’s emblem, the N600’s hubcap makes a strong statement in its minimal form: that Mad Men worthy Honda emblem inside a “keystone” perimeter with a subtle lip at the cap’s edge is a nice touch. The size of the hubcap relative to the wheel makes it close to a full wheel cover, and more chrome here means the N600 is less warehouse trolley-like.

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SITTIN ON KUMHO TENZ, Y U HATIN SON???

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The N600 is cleaner/faster looking without the chrome spear. And note again how large the greenhouse is relative to the body: necessary considering the N600’s cramped cockpit.

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Practical says the decal? Some Americans embraced the N600’s appeal, but Detroit ruled the roost back in the early 1970s. They had size, and style. The N600’s uncanny ability to lack any sense of style a la VW Beetle, Mini Cooper or Fiat 500 musta hurt sales.

To wit, note how the A-B-C pillars lack a cohesive flow in terms of complementary rake, size and shape.

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The fender emblem possesses similar elements to the one on the grille, but with unique textures/topography. It’s cooler than the front emblem.

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Clearly a victim of an almost-professional restoration, yet I suspect door/rocker panel gaps weren’t laser perfect back then anyway.

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The A-pillar is rather fast and sleek on its own, not to mention the full length rain gutter accentuating the speedy demeanor. The windshield rubber is another sign of a lost era…for good reason.

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Poor paint/body work, but still more appealing than a modern car’s black plastic triangle of A-pillar DLO fail.

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Not only does the B-pillar fail to emulate the A-pillar, it’s not symmetric! Square off the lower portion of the quarter window (or round the door) and curb appeal increases.

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While the integrated release button/key cylinder is trick and space efficient, the flat profile and lumpy negative area do not help with the N600’s lack of cohesive style. Is there any room for style on this machine?

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Real estate for a fuel door is in Manhattan-grade short supply on the N600’s body.

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It doesn’t get more honest than a roof-mounted antenna, perfectly mounting on a curved shape. Nice.

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While the front end’s roundness was a stark contrast to the fender’s solidarity, the N600’s middle section softens up thanks to a modicum of tumblehome (seen in the door cutaway) from the base of the door to the roof.

Curves, they are a good thing.

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Imagine how much more “wrong” the N600 would look without that tumblehome from this angle!

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While the tail light flows into the body like that clean roof antenna, the rain gutter, molding and vent louver are necessary(?) afterthoughts.

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But it’s quite fetching by itself!

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The N600’s proto-CVCC DNA is showing! The taillights and trunk cutout is a nice cross between pre-war automobile construction (exposed hinges and a bustle trunk) and the future of hatchback design once a little more rear overhang was deemed necessary.

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The back end’s flattened demeanor is very MINI Clubman, without the charm. Or the functionality, thanks to the fixed rear glass. Luckily there were no Sam’s clubs back then.

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The pudgy, cheeky contour of the trunk is both ungainly and adorable at the same time. Design over Styling!

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Nice bit of retro kit functional design for the grab handle, I was tempted to fix the logo’s problem with a Testors enamel marker.

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Quickly glance at this shot and you’d be forgiven for thinking this is a whip from L.A. Noire.

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Logical and well-designed license plate light, note the exposed screws that’ll make bulb replacement a breeze. Hopefully.

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Exposed hinges in the 1970s? No wonder that dude on “CHiPs” ripped it apart so easily!

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There’s a material heft and functional beauty presented in the lock cylinder’s one piece, polished design. Pictures fail to show the craftsmanship.

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Now let’s bring it home: no overhang is a big, BIG problem.

How can you “style” a design this restrictive? Imagine your job if your boss halved your budget. Or didn’t give you one in the first place! Therein lies the “beauty” of the N600, so to speak.

The Honda Civic that followed was a leap forward, the public’s reaction to Honda’s design and engineering prowess was logical. Because when you give enough room (literally and figuratively) to a design department, they will can make a nicely styled vehicle.

Thanks for reading, I hope you have a lovely week.

 

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Hammer Time : Pick Your Stick! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/hammer-time-pick-your-stick/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/hammer-time-pick-your-stick/#comments Sat, 03 May 2014 18:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=814314 5 cars – 5 sticks = 0 Customer Demand I hate looking at that equation. But these days, it’s about as true for the car business as Georgia is hot. An older stickshift vehicle that isn’t an all out sports car will sit at a retail lot for months on end. Nobody knows how to […]

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5 cars – 5 sticks = 0 Customer Demand

I hate looking at that equation. But these days, it’s about as true for the car business as Georgia is hot. An older stickshift vehicle that isn’t an all out sports car will sit at a retail lot for months on end.

Nobody knows how to drive them except for those folks who are either too middle-aged, too arthritic, or too affluent to buy an older car with a manual transmission.

Don’t believe me? Well, here’s five vehicles that have become the equivalent of heavyweight paperweights at my humble abode. The funny thing is I like driving them all… I just wish I wasn’t two stickshifts away from driving a different handshaker every day of the week.

They are….

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2007 Toyota Corolla CE – Wholesale 4k, Retail 5k

I gave this Corolla brand new tires, an interior detail, and a new antenna. It has returned the favor with 29 dealer records and… well… have I mentioned the fuel economy yet?

When you buy the premium vehicles in this business, you always get three options;  good, fast, and cheap.

You can pick any two of the three.

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A car with good demand will sell fast, but you can’t buy it cheap.

 

A cheap car can sell fast, but you don’t always get a chance to buy them in good condition and chances are if it is, it’s not a popular car.

This Corolla has officially served as my decoy car. The one that everyone thinks they want to buy until they find something with more options (it’s a base CE), more miles (145k), or, inevitably, an automatic.

I don’t care. With all the in-town driving I do, and with the honor of having 4 police precints within a 5 mile radius of my workplace, I need a car that will keep me out of trouble while having at least some fun until the points on my license go down. This one does the job and yes, I would have rather sold it by now.

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2002 Volkswagen Beetle TDI  Wholesale $2500, Retail $3500

Right engine. Right leather seats.

The wrong transmission for everyone’s teenage daughter.

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I flipped a 2002 Jetta not too long ago. Ergonomically, the Jetta was about three parsecs ahead of this Beetle. The dashboard on this thing seems to go on forever, or at least three feet of forever. The interior is as cheap as it is kitschy and, well, parts of that interior are the same lime green as the outside.

I should have known better then to buy a lime green Bug. But about a year ago I struck gold with a zonker yellow Beetle. So I thought that a green one could be an acceptable weird color alternative.  It’s not!

Everything works (miracle!), but this one just sits and ponder that decades old VW question,  “To break? Or not to break?”

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1999 Toyota Solara – Wholesale $2250, Retail $3000

Now this one hit all of my buttons for my highway travels. Plenty of space. Comfortable for long trips. A V6 / 5-speed combination that effortlessly cruises down the interstate at an 80 mph clip while barely breaking a sweat. It only has one itty-bitty problem. After I took it down to Florida to see family, and up to Detroit to see the auto show, someone hit it. Figures!

The good news was that this  beige on beige Solara wasn’t badly hurt  at all. A tow square from an SUV pierced the plasticized bumper at a red light. The driver had almost blown through the red in front of a cop, and then decided to back up without looking. An act of stupidity that was hopelessly compounded by the cell phone attached to his head.

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It actually worked out to my benefit.  The old bumper had  already been scuffed up hard thanks to the errant parking escapades of the prior owner. 1990’s coupes always wind up with those scuff marks on the bumper because the paint was put on wafer thin back then  and never held up.

It’s also an SE model, which in 1990’s Toyota-speak means that it has a cassette player only… no roof… and plastic wheel covers. SE really meant “Subtraction Edition” back in the day.

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1997 Honda Civic EX – Wholesale $2000, Retail $3000 130k.

One owner. Sunroof. These Civics were incredibly popular up to a few years ago.

These days they still are here in the ex-urbs of Atlanta, but only the automatic versions. This particular one has the usual cosmetic issues. Some paint wear on the hood, flaking,  and a crack on the front bumper.

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It’s also owned by my brother-in-law. So if I tell you any more negatives, I’ll quickly find myself outside the “Circle Of Trust”. It’s a good car. Really! Oh, and the battery’s dead.

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1994 Mazda Protege – 60k original miles  – bought for $775 two years ago.

This is a bad, bad car. A terrible car. It’s like an ancient venereal disease. A horrific ride of almost Roger Smith-ian proportions.

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But I absolutely love it. Why? Because it was the cockroach of compacts.

I had financed it and got it back. Twice. After it came back to me in an almost Kevorkian state, I fixed it up again and retailed it.  I only had a thousand in it and got over $4500 after two years of tough owners. So naturally, I love this one the most.

But what about you? If you were to handshake your way into the penurious plenitude of older stickshift vehicles, which one would you chose?

Note: The Beetle and Protege sold earlier this week, and I have to confess that my only exposure for these vehicles has been drive-by traffic until recently. I wanted to finance them (well, all but the Protege), but thankfully, I am buying a lot more late model vehicles these days instead of older stuff. If this keeps up I’ll probably continue to chronicle these older rides, but I will be back to my old focus of retailing newer ones.)

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Review: 2014 VW Beetle R-Line http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/review-2014-vw-beetle-r-line/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/review-2014-vw-beetle-r-line/#comments Fri, 08 Nov 2013 14:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=645066 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 […]

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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?

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Aside from the “VW Candy” of the not-yet-available-here seventh-generation GTI and Scirocco R, the cars most prominently featured at the driving event were the Beetle GSRs. A yellow and black painted homage to a mildly juiced up 1970s Bug, the “Gelb-Schwarzer-Renner” boasts cosmetic enhancements and exactly no extra power. It also looks like Bumblebee guy off the Simpsons.

Stepping past Señor No Es Bueno brought me to my plain black test vehicle, a six-speed manual. For a work-through of all the little exterior details that make up the new-for-2012 bug, please see Sajeev Mehta’s excellent dissection here.

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Briefly, I think this thing looks a wee bit badass, all glittering carapace and chunky 18” alloys. The idea of retro-design might not appeal to everyone, but there’s a little extra flavour here, and it’s done right. The slightly extended, stretched-out looks of the Beetle give it genuine road presence: it’s now a car, not a clutch-purse.

For 2014, all Beetles with the 2.0L Turbo get the R-Line, VW’s package of aerodynamic-look fascias, a rear spoiler, and those big rims; the car also changes its name from Beetle Turbo to Beetle R-Line, what with the base engine now a snail-fed 1.8. Power is slightly up by a who-cares extra 10 for a total of 210hp.

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Inside, this mid-trim tester came with a carbon-fibre-look dash, silver-ringed instrument binnacle and dashboard gauge pod. The cloth seats had decent bolstering, and I liked the patterning. Actually, given the excellent headroom and usable back seats, I like the surroundings in here better than the current GTI.

As soon as I rolled off the line, I changed my mind. It’s not that there’s anything specifically wrong with the boosted Beetle, it’s just that all the dynamics are about 10% less good than the GTI. The accelerator doesn’t seem to react as quickly. There’s more body roll. The seating position is just a little too high. The steering is a bit lighter, a bit looser, and a little more numb.

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But 90% GTI is still a passing grade on anyone’s report-card, unless you’re a mechanic. Stirring up the Beetle’s torquey two-litre via the six-speed shifter, I flung the little car down the winding canyon roads VW had mapped out. These were excellent, and relatively traffic free. The Bug hopped through the bends like a flea down the wrinkle of a Shar-pei.

That’s a flea with combat boots, however. You can get ridiculous 19”s on the top-spec R-Line Beetle, but even these 18”s are a little too heavy for backroads carving. Those fat 5-spokes have a considerable amount of mass cast into them – hazarding a guess, I’d say somewhere in the mid 30 pound range.

Bah hum-bug. Give me a set of forged 17”s any day with proper offset to clear the brakes. Last month I dropped by HPA out here in BC – the lunatics who boosted one of the original New Beetles into the high 400hp range – and they set all their 200mph-rated big-brake kits to fit behind 18”s. The R-Line brakes are only just acceptable, and shouldn’t require the diameter upgrade.

Leaving the heavy footwear aside, the turbo’d Beetle can actually be a lot of fun. After slowing for some construction, I followed a touring sportbike through a series of winding curves – he was probably going 20%, I was going more like 80% – and the Vee-Dub seemed to find some flow. Hammering through these switchback corners in a rear-wheel-drive 5.0 ‘Stang (which isn’t far off in terms of a price comparison) and a wrong move would put you off the road and embedded straight into the terroir. The Bug was a bit of a rhythmic challenge, but the rewards were there.

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If the incentives were right, if the price-tag on this car got low enough, if some dealer was motivated to move a narrow-appeal manual-transmission unit off the lot… hmm. I’m thinking reflash & tune, maybe some beefier sways, bit of a mild drop in height perhaps – there’s some potential here. It’s not as sharp a tool as the GTI, but sometimes, using the not-quite-best instrument has an appeal all its own. There’s a bit of Herbie potential here and-

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Sweet mother of pearl: have I just advised that somebody void the warranty on a Volkswagen product by modifying it? I gotta call Saul!

VW Provided the cars tested, flights and accomodation.
As-tested, the car stickered at $27,595 (US)

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Review: 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible (Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/review-2013-volkswagen-beetle-convertible-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/review-2013-volkswagen-beetle-convertible-video/#comments Mon, 15 Apr 2013 19:04:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=484264 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. […]

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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?

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

This Beetle, like the old “New Beetle,” sells on nostalgia and cutesy-bubbly good looks. In fact, the first words anyone utters upon seeing a Beetle are: “aww, its cute.” See the problem? How many guys buy “cute” cars? Recognizing the problem, VW set out to “butch things up” with the second generation FWD Beetle. The bubbly-fenders, round headlamps and “smiling” hood lines haven’t left but they have been joined by VW’s corporate “Gillette” grille,  sharper corners and more “masculine” tail lamps. (Or so I’m told.) The redesign also adds an incredible 3.5 inches to the Bug’s width and 5 inches to the length. The extra length means the Bug’s side profile is no longer semi-circular, something of a loss for retro fans. The wider stance and crisper creases do make Herbie look meaner, but the ginormous fenders make him look fatter as well.

Since nostalgia sells, VW offers the Beetle in decade-themed editions. There’s an all-black ’50s edition, a periwinkle turbocharged ’60s edition and the chocolate brown ’70s edition VW lent me (perhaps they knew I’m a child of the ‘ 70s?). Should you not care for VW’s packaged time-travel holidays, you can order your ride a la carte. Any way you order it, your bug will come with a black or beige canvas top which opens in 9 seconds while traveling up to 31 MPH. Why does that matter? Because you can go topless at a stoplight without fear that you’ll hold up traffic when it turns green. Volkswagen manages this feat by having the top drop onto the deck lid rather than going inside the trunk like most modern convertibles do. As a result the operation is faster since the trunk doesn’t have to open, the mechanism is less complex and the classic look of the Beetle ‘vert (with the top that looks like a canvas spoiler) is retained.

Starting at $24,995, sawing the top off your Bug will set you back $5,000 vs the coupe. If that sounds spendy, keep your top on, the convertible premium is higher on some of the competition. The 70s edition convertible (as tested) comes in one trim level with no options at $28,595, $5 more than a base turbo convertible. If you feel like burning oil, the TDI convertible starts at $28,690. The 60s convertible which represents the “top of the line” drop-top Beetle tips the scales at $32,395.

Interior

Bug defeminization continues on the inside with fewer round shapes, more creases and VW’s flat-bottom steering wheel. True to the retro mission you’ll find large portions of body-color-matching trim parts inside. That worried me at first but VW appears to be using high quality coatings as none of the painted bits showed signs of scratching like low-mileage PT Cruisers. As a close relative of the Golf and Jetta the Beetle borrows heavily from the communal parts trough, however, that parts sharing doesn’t extend to automatic climate control or power seats.

Despite the lack of power adjustability, front seat comfort in the Beetle was excellent on my long commute. Sadly finding a comfortable driving position took more time than I bargained for due to the bizarre recline knob. The fact that the recline mechanism is controlled by a knob is odd enough, but its position on the side of the seat is awkward to use. If you regularly share cars with your significant other, this could be a sore spot. The Bug’s rear seats have become a tad more spacious in this generation, but should still be considered “emergency” back seats due to a severe lack of leg room. On the bright side, the tall roofline means there’s enough headroom in the back for the average adult to sit upright.

Once upon a time there was no option for leather seats in the Beetle and we have now come full circle. Like a number of other manufacturers, VW has been slowly killing off real cowhide in their cars. For 2013 the only upholstery option in the Beetle convertible is V-Tex leatherette.

Because the lid doesn’t collapse into the trunk, the cargo slot remains 7.1 cubic feet when motoring topless. While that doesn’t sound like much space, it is a huge step up from the old Beetle’s 5 cubes. That’s the difference between an adult fitting in the trunk and not. (You’ll have to watch the video for that explanation.) Unlike most convertibles, the rear seat has a trick up it’s sleeve: it folds down (50/50) to reveal an honest-to-goodness cargo opening.

Infotainment

Sorry ’70s fans, our chocolate brown Bug didn’t come with a built-in CB radio. Burn! Instead shoppers will need to get hip with the 21st century, VW style. Base drop-tops get an AM/FM radio, single slot CD player, Bluetooth speaker phone/audio streaming and VW’s USB/iDevice interface (MDI). Working your way up the ladder, the next stop is the touchscreen audio system which adds HD Radio, SiriusXM Satellite Radio and am MP3 compatible CD reader (why is there no 1990s edition?).

’60s and ’70s edition models come standard (optional on other Bugs) with VW’s 5-inch touchscreen navigation unit (RNS-315). This is the same system found in VW vehicles from the Golf to the Passat. Unlike VW’s large-screen nav unit, this one stores the map data on 4GB of built-in flash memory meaning the database is smaller and less detailed. Compared to the latest offerings from the competition, VW’s nav system is slow, less polished and less intuitive. Instead of using a USB port like everyone else, VW still uses a short proprietary cable in the glove box, a pain if you use your cell phone as your music library. An MDI-iDevice cable comes with the bug, but if you’re not an Apple fan you have to buy the corresponding cable separately from your dealer. Shaking salt on the infotainment wound is a distinct lack of voice commands for your music library, something that is rapidly becoming universal. On the flip side, the 9-speaker Fender speaker system is rad to the max. VW: do me a solid and give the Bug some much needed infotainment love. Dig?

Drivetrain

You won’t find a air-cooled engine in this Beetle, this isn’t the ’50s. Base Beetles (and the ’50s and ’70s edition models) use VW’s refreshed 2.5L inline 5-cylinder engine which gets a 20 HP bump to 170 at 5,700RPM while torque creeps up to 177 lb-ft at 4,250 RPM. The sole mate to the 5-banger is an Aisin-sourced 6-speed automatic, not the 6-speed DSG. If you need more shove, you can opt for VW’s ubiquitous 2.0L turbo, good for 200 ponies and 207 lb-ft of twist. A first for America (as far as I know), VW’s topless cruiser can now be had in oil-burning form with the same 140 HP 2.0L TDI powerplant as the Jetta. Both 2.0L mills are mated to VW’s slick-shifting 6-speed manual transmission or for $1,100, VW’s latest 6-speed dual-clutch DSG transmission.

VW’s 5-cylinder engine has received a bad rap in the press due its unusual exhaust note but I found the funky burble strangely pleasant. Liking the exhaust note is important because you’ll be hearing quite a bit of it as you try to motivate 3,200 pounds of convertible. The “half-V10″ is smoother than the current crop of VW 4-cylinder engines and with the bump to 170 HP it is perfectly serviceable for most drivers. The 6-speed slush box is fairly typical for the compact segment: eager to up-shift, reluctant to down-shift and far less engaging than VW’s excellent DSG units.  Thanks to some efficiency improvements we averaged 26.2MPG over 620 miles of mixed driving in the 2.5 even though the EPA rating is 21/27 (city/highway).

Drive

The 2.0L turbo is underpowered when you compare it to the modern crop of direct-injection 2.0L turbos from the competition. The engine also has something of a split personality, being both rough around the edges and high maintenance with its coarse sound and appetite for premium gas. If you are willing to pay the toll, your reward is the fastest 0-60 time of the bunch, a full 2 seconds faster than the 9.2 second run our 2.5L tester scored. Is it worth it? Yes. If for no other reason than to get the DSG “automatic” or the 6-speed manual, both of which are more driver-oriented than the tranny choices coupled to the 2.5. Despite sporting a higher 21/30 MPG rating, it wasn’t  cheaper to operate than the 2.5L thanks to its hunger for expensive gas and my heavy right foot.

I had only a limited opportunity to test the 2.0L TDI, but it’s exactly what you would expect. It’s slower than the 2.5L, has only a slight diesel burble inside the car and gets incredible mileage. What you might not expect is that it’s only $1,200 more than a comparably equipped 2.5L Beetle Convertible which is a great deal, if you can find one. Thanks to its 28/41 MPG rating (with the DSG), the TDI can get you from your Berkeley loft to Burning Man and back, if you treat it gently. And important consideration to maximize your funkadelic weekend and make it back to your human studies class on time.

The Beetle coupé uses the same torsion beam suspension as the Jetta and Golf in normal trim and a variant of the GLI’s multi-link suspension when equipped with the turbo engine. Thanks to the extra weight and a desire to maximize trunk volume, all convertible Bugs get the multi-link setup. The suspension swap makes the convertible feel almost as composed as a turbo Beetle coupé on broken pavement, a notable improvement over the base coupé. That doesn’t mean the convertible has any sporting aspirations however, the topless Bug has been tuned for a softer ride, more fitting for a boulevard cruiser.

When the going gets twisty, the polished city ride begins to fall apart. Despite being 20% more rigid than the New Beetle convertible, there’s still plenty of body flex and a hair of cowl shake. This isn’t unusual for a mass market soft-top, but I had hoped for a ride more similar to the stiffer EOS hard top. If your top is up, expect some occasional squeaks from where the top meets the body on broken pavement (even dealer provided testers suffered from this problem.) If the top is down, just expect a less rigid ride than you will find in the Beetle coupé. That’s not to say the Beetle is a wet noodle on winding roads like ye olde La Baron, but it’s certainly not up to the same standard as the new Mustang or Camaro convertibles and even the Chrysler 200 seemed more rigid on the back roads.

How well the Beetle accelerates and handles is unlikely to matter to prospective convertible shoppers. I’m not kidding. There isn’t a drop top I can think of that has better performance metrics than its hard-top donor car, that’s just the nature of the beast. Convertibles are all about open air motoring and style, something thee Beetle, despite all of its flaws, still has in spades. VW’s infotainment options feel like they are stuck in 1990, the lack of power front seats and automatic climate control irk me to no end, and the 2.0L engine needs a testosterone injection, yet the Beetle’s topless charm is enough for me to overlook its flaws. The Bug’s price is even right when you consider a topless Chrysler 200 starts at $27,100. There is only one “problem:” Herbie’s still cute.

Hit it

  • Unique 5-cylinder engine note. (I know, I’m crazy.)
  • Going topless at 31MPH is handier than I thought.
  • The TDI is an excellent value.
  • Still cute.

Quit it

  • VW’s base navigation system is getting old.
  • 200 ponies from two turbocharged liters isn’t anything to brag about.
  • Reclining a seat using a knob is an exercise in frustration.
  • Still cute.

 

Volkswagen provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.98 Seconds

0-60: 9.2 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 16.83 Seconds @ 83 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 26.6 MPG over 620 Miles

2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Exterior, Side 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Exterior, Side 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Exterior, Trunk, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Front Wheel, Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Exterior, 70s logo, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Exterior, Spoiler, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Exterior, Front 3/3, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Exterior, Rear 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Interior, Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Interior, Folding Rear Seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Interior, Trunk Pass Through, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Interior, Center Console, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Interior, Glove Box, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Interior, Front Door, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Engine, 2.5L, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Engine, 2.5L, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Engine, 2.5L, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Top Mechanisim, Picture Courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Interior, Gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

 

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R-Rated Beetle For Testosterone Enhancement http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/r-rated-beetle-for-testosterone-enhancement/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/r-rated-beetle-for-testosterone-enhancement/#comments Wed, 12 Sep 2012 13:38:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=460003 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. Says the press release: “The exterior package may be ordered separately, while the interior package […]

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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.

Says the press release: “The exterior package may be ordered separately, while the interior package is always offered as an extension of the R-Line exterior details.” You figure it out.

The exterior package comes with 18 inch alloys (19 inch optional) and some bumper and side panel mods.  The interior package comes with sport seats “upholstered with an active-breathing fabric in “Kyalami” design” ( you figure it out again) and some badges.

Volkswagen Beetle R-Line. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Volkswagen Beetle R-Line. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Volkswagen Beetle R-Line. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Volkswagen Beetle R-Line. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Volkswagen Beetle R-Line. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Volkswagen Beetle R-Line. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Junkyard Find: 1973 Volkswagen Super Beetle http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/junkyard-find-1973-volkswagen-super-beetle/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/junkyard-find-1973-volkswagen-super-beetle/#comments Thu, 19 Jul 2012 13:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=453306 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 […]

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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.
I got my bright yellow Super Beetle for free after one of my mom’s coworkers got it stuck between a couple of concrete traffic barriers while driving drunk in Berkeley, tearing off the front fenders and losing her driver’s license in the process. I’d always assumed that the McPherson strut front suspension on the Super Beetle would transform the handling from scary to just bad, but in fact there wasn’t much improvement over the old torsion-bar setup (other than increased cargo space under the hood). I put junkyard fenders on it and drove it a bit, but ended up selling it for $250 to a couple of drunken sailors from the USS Coral Sea.
This car used to be yellow, too, but since my Super Beetle ended up shot full of holes and on fire in an irrigation ditch near Benicia (according to the cops who found it and called me to come deal with “my” car, the Drunken Sailors not having bothered to register the car in their names) I’m guessing this is a different yellow ’73.
This one has all the standard bolt-on upgrades that readers of Hot VWs Magazine, circa 1982, would have installed 30 years back: nerf bars, crankshaft degree wheel, Bosch 009 distributor, and so on.
It’s impressive that so many of these cars have hung on for 30 to 50 years before getting scrapped, and I’ll need to start shooting more of them in junkyards. The air-cooled Beetle was built for 65 years, which makes it the all-time production-run champion… but the Hindustan Motors Ambassador will pass it in 2020 (unless you count the 1948 Morris Oxford instead of the ’54 as the same car as the Amby, in which case it will pass the Beetle next year).

24 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1973 VW Super Beetle Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Vellum Venom: 2012 VW Beetle Turbo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/vellum-venom-2012-vw-beetle-turbo-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/vellum-venom-2012-vw-beetle-turbo-2/#comments Sun, 13 May 2012 10:38:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=444096 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 […]

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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.”  This Vee-Dub wants a change of pace from the stereotypes, and it’s done a fine job. After all, it spent far too much time as a stereotypical girly car…it needed a touch of beefcake for the next redesign.

 

Two worlds collide: the soft and girly demeanor of the Beetle remains, but there’s a nod to toned muscle in the bumper’s lower half.  The nose is downright chiseled! And while the Beetle should never have a “Bunkie Beak” like the works of Mr. Kundsen, adding some tonal quality to the Beetle’s otherwise undefined bumper is a thoughtful touch. Even better, the muscles have a bit of chrome trimming that gives it an-oh-so subtle smile.

 

The foglights integrate nicely into that smile.  And the bumper looks even better from a lower view.  Children will love this.  I imagine it saying “Hi” like the advertisements for the original Dodge Neon. It is undeniably cute, but not nearly as prissy as before.

 

Thrusting forward.  The front clip itself is more than a little manly while the squared off, beveled hood adds more definition than before.

 

The Beetle’s schnoz is definitely growing up in the same manner as our first Vellum Venom subject: the Porsche 911. Check them both out from this angle.

 

The headlight’s eyelids are a little touch of retro flair that I truly adore.  They are super-duper brand honest, and integrate very well into the headlight’s overall design.  I love it when custom touches from the aftermarket receive a hat-tip from the OEMs, decades later. Nice job!

 

And the layers, textures and bullet like thrust of this lighting appendage work nicely with the bumper’s imagery.  It’s about time that our love of plastic headlight castings really highlighted a brand, a model, or a design studio’s creativity.  I first noticed it on the uber-pricey headlights of my HID-equipped Lincoln Mark VIII…and now it is everywhere! Technology FTW!

 

Yes indeed, the bumper is squared off and tougher, but the same is true for the green house.  Note the hard, not organic bend in the A-pillar at the roof.  This leads to a roofline that is no longer Astrodome-like.  Which is far more mature than the last Beetle. Also note the bigger, meatier door. Even the fenders look a bit, well, hunkier?

 

Someone with more design experience than myself should chime in: what is this center panel called?  It’s not a fender, or a hood. Rather, it is a cowl cover. Whatever, this hunk of metal that covers the cowl has three dynamic cut lines and one very, very static line.  I would aim the cowl/A-pillar/Door seam with a downward trajectory so it hits the base of the DLO (daylight opening) instead. This gives a little more flow and excitement from up close. Maybe even from a distance!

Oh, and congrats for not having DLO FAIL with pointless black triangles.  This is one time where German engineering and Design can rightfully claim a victory.

 

My apologizes to the VW fanbois, as I can’t remember the name of the original wheel design that inspired this hoop.  You’d see this black and silver wheel spoke on everything from Beetles, Buses, 911s and 914s in the 1970s, and they translate well into the Dub generation.  My only beef is the interrupted outer rim, those slots need to be pushed back so the design can “breathe” a bit.  Job well done still, and I like the side marker’s matching curves against the wheel arches.

While I didn’t photograph a Bug with the retro wheels of the base model, I found them oversized and therefore out of proportion.  Big discs are a pleasant nod to the past, but these Turbo wheels work better.

 

I assume this bodyside molding seeks to emulate the original’s classic running boards, and I guess that’s cool.  I woulda gone more retro, with a fluted/ribbed top and a matte black finish. This is one time where if you’re wanna stick out, you might as well be LOUD and PROUD…son!

 

Like the hood bevel, the green house sports a hard recess around its perimeter.  While I think the bevel is too long/deep at the quarter window, this is a significant improvement over the previous New Beetle.  Now this roof is stylish, not soft. Perhaps rear seat headroom also improved, from the looks of it.

 

I quite like the meeting of quarter panel, fender and hatchback: the lines are fast and a touch on the muscular side. The Turbo’s spoiler helps too, in a proto-911 kinda way.  The biggest improvement from this shot is most certainly the taillights. The dull, flat and fruity circles from the last model are history, now the Bug has a bit of deep and complex techo-industrial chic from the rear. And their larger size is in better proportion with the rest of the package.

If there was a bit more tumblehome (google it) to the green house, we’d have a more honest Beetle.  Then again, whatever I am seeing here doesn’t look like a stereotypical Bug.  It looks like a bad ass little compact car.

 

I wish the spoiler extended further down the hatch, and stuck further out.  It would be a good “F U” to the rest of the world, adding to the masculinity seen elsewhere on the coachwork.

 

The rear bumper continues the theme from the front, deeper/lower and more masculine.  Also note the squared off hatch corners with a hard bevel. Combined with the fender’s ability to give the Beetle more tumblehome than actually available, you have a mature redesign of an absolutely childish original.  And with the bigger taillights in the right proportion, can I call this wee beastie a “Butch Machine” and get away with it?

 

Back to my deep and complex techo-industrial chic remark: these lighting pods are such an improvement over the previous design.  Note the prominent “U” theme, complete with clear lights with the same vanishing point. The design is rich and deep in these pods, and they point to a well executed little vehicle. While not the cheapest small car on the planet–or especially reliable, in TTAC’s Piston Slap terms–this new VW Beetle simply appeals to me in every place where the original failed. This one is totally okay for a manly-man type of dude to own.

And thank goodness neither of us went to “Medical School.”

Thanks for reading and have a great week.

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Book Review: The Extraordinary Life of Josef Ganz: The Jewish Engineer Behind Hitler’s Volkswagen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/book-review-the-extraordinary-life-of-josef-ganz-the-jewish-engineer-behind-hitler%e2%80%99s-volkswagen/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/book-review-the-extraordinary-life-of-josef-ganz-the-jewish-engineer-behind-hitler%e2%80%99s-volkswagen/#comments Wed, 04 Jan 2012 21:21:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=424293 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. […]

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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.

That case has been made by Dutch engineer, VW Beetle enthusiast and writer Paul Schilperoord in his book, The True Story of The Beetle (Het Ware Verhaal Van De Kever). The book was first published in Dutch in 2009, selling out its first printing and was subsequently translated into Portuguese. Now, RVP Publishers has just released an English edition, The Extraordinary Life of Josef Ganz: The Jewish Engineer Behind Hitler’s Volkswagen.

Ganz, consigned to historical obscurity in part due to Nazi persecution of Jews, turns out to have been an important and influential figure in German and European automotive development. Schilperoord, more than any other person, has been responsible for restoring Ganz to his deserved role in automotive history, first publishing a series of magazine articles and finally this book. Beyond the book’s central thesis, that Ganz’s concepts and designs for a car he called a “volkswagen” were appropriated by Ferdinand Porsche and Adoph Hitler as the foundation for the design of what became the VW Beetle, Ganz was a respected engineer who was considered an equal by the creme de la creme of European automobile designers. He consulted for Mercedes Benz and BMW on the development of historically significant concept and production cars like M-B’s 170 and BMW’s first in house car design, the AM1. Ganz was regarded as perhaps the expert on swing axle suspensions at the time, and he traveled in circles that included Dr. Porsche and his son Ferry, Tatra chief engineer Hans Ledwinka, and pioneering aerodynamicists Paul Jaray and Edmund Rumpler. There are photographs of Ferry Porsche and Adolph Rosenberger, Dr. Porsche’s business partner and financial backer, test driving a Ganz prototype. Ganz had a long, mutually respectful working relationship with Hans Nibel, the head of Mercedes engineering, and Ganz maintained a lifetime correspondence with Heinrich Nordhoff, who ran Volkswagen from the end of WWII into the 1960s and apparently arranged for Ganz to receive at least some token compensation for his contributions to the Beetle.

On the left is Dr. Porsche's Zundapp 12 prototype. On the right is a CGI image of Ganz's Standard Superior. Ganz consulted with Zundapp before they hired Porsche.

Ganz’s consulting work grew out of his role as editor of Motor Kritik, a German auto enthusiast magazine, what we’d call a “buff book”. A trained engineer, Ganz felt that the German auto industry was making a mistake by only producing large, heavy, expensive cars for wealthy people. In the pages of Motor Kritik, Ganz became a passionate advocate for the development of an inexpensive car that was lightweight, streamlined for aerodynamics, independently suspended at all four wheels, using swing axles in the back, with a rear mounted horizontal engine, all mounted on a platform chassis with a tube backbone. That sounds remarkably like the design brief for the Volkwagen Type I, also known as the Beetle. Perhaps even more remarkable is the fact that Ganz actually called his design a “volkswagen” and he referred to a prototype that he built as the Mai Kaefer, or May beetle.

Click here to view the embedded video.

A number of companies expressed interest in building Ganz’s volkswagen. He built prototypes for motorcycle companies looking to expand into automobiles like Adler, and Ardie. Actually Ganz had extensive discussions with motorcycle manufacturer Zundapp about them building a car on his designs but the talks broke down and Zundapp instead hired Porsche. The prototype Zundapp 12 is widely considered to be a precursor to Porsche’s Beetle design, but Zundapp had had full access to Ganz’s designs during their discussions so it’s impossible to say how much of that prototype was original to Dr. Porsche. Ganz was also a consultant on two air-cooled rear engined Mercedes-Benz concepts, the 120h and 130h, that are also considered to have influenced the Beetle.

Finally, in 1933, the Standard Fabrik company started producing and selling the Standard Superior Volkswagen. They displayed the car and its chassis at the 1933 Berlin auto show, and news of that car was significant enough to merit coverage in the Detroit News. Ganz was at the peak of his career, though he didn’t know it as he stood on Standard’s show booth. Another visitor to the auto show that year would soon change Ganz’s life. Newly installed as Germany’s chancellor, Adolph Hitler attended the show with considerable pomp, as the dictator would make building the autobahns and developing a “people’s car” an important part of Nazi policy.

1934 Standard Superior. A few hundred were made. One survives in a private German collection.

Within a year, Ganz would find himself hounded by the Gestapo, removed from his job as Motor Kritik editor due to Nazi pressure on the publishers (who kept him on as a ghost writer) and thrown into prison on blackmail charges trumped up out of his legitimate attempt to get compensated for patents of his that were infringed upon by Tatra, the Czech company then under control of Volksdeutsch (ethnic Germans) said to have ties to the German secret police. Statements on his behalf by Han Nibel helped get him released and Ganz, now certain that there was no future for him in Germany, fled to Switzerland.

While in Switzerland, Ganz again tried to get his volkswagen made and the Rapid company indeed made a short production run of an open two seater based on his designs. Ganz later had trouble with Swiss authorities appropriating his intellectual property (a not uncommon event around the time of World War II – American Bantam got screwed out of the Jeep and the Canadian government stole Bombardier’s tracked vehicle technology) and after the war he emigrated to Australia where he worked for General Motors’ Holden subsidiary.

Only a handful of his coworkers knew of his role in the history of the Volkswagen and Ganz died in obscurity in 1967. He most likely would have stayed obscure had Paul Schilperoord, in 2004, not read a 1980 issue of Automobile Quarterly, which had a short article about Ganz. Intrigued by the story, he began a quest to document Ganz’s life story. That quest involved visiting archives and museums in Germany, tracking down a complete set of the issues of Motor Kritik, establishing contact with Ganz’s surviving relatives and associates, and finally getting access to Ganz’s personal archive in the possession of Ganz’s former attorney. The result is an important contribution to automotive history. The Extraordinary Life of Josef Ganz is meticulously researched, with hundreds of footnotes citing original documents. Because he was a working journalist in addition to his engineering consulting work, the Ganz archive included hundreds of photographs of Ganz, his cars, and other contemporary German cars and automotive events. The original Dutch edition integrated those photos with the text of the book. RVP Publishers, for the English edition, has instead decided to highlight those photographs, facsimiles of Motor Kritik, and Ganz’s patents, printing them separately on 128 insert pages of special paper, with extensive new captions contributed by the author. Schilperoord writes in an engaging and mostly entertaining style. He’s a fine storyteller and it’s a heck of a story to tell.

Schilperoord’s claims are, ain’t no bout a doubt it, controversial. Dr. Porsche has a large body of acolytes that protect his history. Hans Ledwinka has his defenders as well. It’s a controversial story and when you add in the issue of Nazis and Jews, it only gets more controversial. I’ve known about Paul’s work for a few years now and I sometimes exchange bits of historical information with him so this review is not the first time that I’ve published about the Ganz story. Whenever I bring up the topic of Ganz online there will usually be someone who will pooh pooh Schilperoord’s case for Ganz and argue in favor of Porsche. Others will take up the cause of Hans Ledwinka’s role in VW history. Nothing wrong with debating history. I prefer to assume that those who disagree with Paul do so out of a regard for historical accuracy and not because of less savory motives. Some, though, seem to have an “anyone but the Jew” approach. Almost invariably, when I write about Ganz there will also be those who say that this is a non-story and that there must be some bias on my part because of my own Jewish faith. I suppose that’s possible, though nobody has ever complained when I’ve written about Ab Jenkins and his Mormon Meteors.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks – RJS

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle 2.5 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/2012-volkswagen-beetle-2-5/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/2012-volkswagen-beetle-2-5/#comments Wed, 21 Dec 2011 19:51:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=423116 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 […]

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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?

The new (not New) Beetle’s body is less far-out styling exercise, more faithful yet also better resolved and altogether more attractive update of the form-follows-function original. Except dimensionally, where a page has been ripped from Harley Earl’s decidedly contra-Bauhaus “longer, lower, wider” car design philosophy, with changes of +7.3 (to 168.4), -0.5 (to 58.5), and +2.3 (to 71.2) inches, respectively. Most notable among the now bent curves, the Beetle’s roof no longer traces a continuous arch from fender to fender. There’s enough of a flat roof surface for a much larger glass panel, but not enough for this panel to open even halfway. Disregard the brochure: “panoramic” it’s not. Paint the bug “autobahn appliance silver” and shoe it with wide, low profile treads (235/45HR18s, to be precise), and only men least sure of their manliness should feel uncomfortable driving this car.

The interior is similarly less style for its own sake and more a blend of the original’s minimalist aesthetic and today’s standard VW issue. Though the herringbone pattern in some of the off-black leatherette and the audio display graphics are kind of nifty, those seeking cheery, bubbly fun are much less likely to find it here. The potential for whimsy largely departed with the bud vase. Fans of functionality will adore the extra glove box and three-dial HVAC controls, though.

When I spoke of men being comfortable in this car, I was speaking figuratively. The hard, flat front seat put my seat to sleep, while the hard flat door-mounted armrest made my elbow wish for the same. The view forward is more confidence inspiring than that in the previous car, since the 2012’s windshield is much more upright and you no longer have to gaze across a vast expanse of instrument panel to see through it. But unless you’re especially long of torso it’s first necessary to crank the seat way up to avoid feeling trapped, Kafka-style, in the big bug body. Only the windows seem small. The new car arguably comes by its high belt and small windows honestly, as postwar Beetles weren’t exactly fishbowls. But the large feel from the driver’s seat? That’s new. No such novelty in back—it’s still a tight fit for adults, though the rear glass thankfully isn’t overhead. Cargo volume similarly remains in modest supply, though the hatch opening, no longer a fashion victim, is usefully larger.

I’m oddly fond of the much-maligned low-revving 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder engine in its latest 170 horsepower, 177 pound-feet iteration. Very torquey, it pulls strongly up to 40 miles-per-hour or so, and then more than adequately up to highway speeds, while sounding more substantial than a four (if not remotely like an air-cooled boxer) in the process. Too bad the six-speed automatic transmission, in a not terribly successful attempt to earn good EPA numbers (22 city / 29 highway MPG), is more than capable of lugging even this engine. Want to shift for yourself? You’ll save $1,100 with the five-speed manual. Or spend more and get the 200-horsepower 2.0T / six-speed stick combo.

Hopefully the steering and suspension are tuned differently with the turbo. The 2.5’s hydraulic power steering (vs. electric-assist with the 2.0T) communicates well as loads build, but feels sluggish and a touch sloppy on-center. Little happens during the initial quarter turn. The chassis feels stable but not at all agile. As with the second-gen Scion xB, the oversized feel of the 2012 Beetle really takes a toll. Frisky personality like that of a MINI or 500? Not at all. You could be behind the wheel of any 3,000-plus-pound German driving appliance. The car is all business.

Aesthetically, the 18-inch wheels are perfect for the car. Since those big shiny discs are hubcaps, the rims probably aren’t as hefty as they look. But they do feel as hefty as they look, pounding across all but the most minor road imperfections. Though the suspension tuning is hardly GTI athletic, the ride is jittery more often than not. Chassis refinement is uncharacteristically lacking for a VW. What were the engineers aiming for? To put a positive spin on it, those seeking sharp handling and those seeking a smooth ride will be equally satisfied.

The price of the bespoke body? Easy to figure, since the new Beetle is essentially the latest North American Jetta underneath. Okay, maybe not so easy, as the Jetta 2.5 isn’t offered with the 400-watt Fender audio system or 18-inch rims. The tested Beetle, loaded up with automatic, sunroof, and nav, lists for $25,965. A Jetta without the aforementioned bits but with enough other things to be worth a $680 feature-based price adjustment (according to TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool): $25,065. So figure about $1,580 for the bug body, larger rims, and rocking audio system. Not bad if the rest was good. A similarly equipped (but 121 horsepower) MINI Cooper costs nearly the same as the tested Beetle after adjusting for feature differences.

German coachbuilder Gunter Artz once highly modified a few Golf bodies to fit over Porsche 928 mechanicals. Driving the result must have affected severe cognitive dissonance. The same is the case, if in a less desirable direction, with the 2012 Beetle. Even butched up, it looks like it should be fun, or at least feel somehow special. Perhaps like a less mini MINI. Instead the latest Beetle drives like an American-spec Jetta with gangsta windows, sloppier steering, and less polished suspension. I actually enjoyed driving the Jetta mit 2.5 more. The Germans have never understood our American fondness for the car that, for them, can only have painful association with their immediate postwar condition. This might explain why, after masterfully crafting a more functional, more attractive, and more broadly appealing update of the iconic exterior, they phoned the rest in. The result certainly isn’t a bad car, but also isn’t the distinctive experience it could have been. The abandoned better idea: Think Small.

Volkswagen provided the car with insurance and a tank of gas.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, an online provider of car reliability and real-world fuel economy information.

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Beetle view forward Beetle side Beetle rear seat Beetle rear quarter 3 Beetle rear quarter 2 Beetle rear quarter Beetle rear Beetle panoramic sunroof Beetle interior Beetle instruments Beetle instrument panel Beetle herringbone leatherette Beetle glove compartments Beetle front quarter 2 Beetle front quarter Beetle front Beetle engine Beetle cargo Beetle audio display

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Down On The Mile High Street: Volkswagen Beetle http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/down-on-the-mile-high-street-volkswagen-beetle/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/down-on-the-mile-high-street-volkswagen-beetle/#comments Fri, 12 Aug 2011 19:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=406871 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 […]

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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.
Judging by the taillights, bumpers, and flow-through air vents, I’d say this is an early-to-mid-70s Beetle. By 1974, the Beetle’s 1600cc engine was rated at an even-worse-than-the-MGB 46 horsepower. Can you imagine what Beetles with the air-conditioning option were like to drive?
I thought this was a Super Beetle at first glance, but it doesn’t have the long hood of the Super. Even with its allegedly more modern McPherson strut front suspension, the Super had even scarier handling characteristics than the torsion-bar regular Beetle. Hey, what’s that black stuff on the engine lid?
Air-cooled VWs often have a little problem with fires in the engine compartment, thanks to the hot engine and leak-prone fuel pump and lines. The driver of this car was on the ball when his or her engine started to burn and put out the fire in time.

DOTSD-SuperBeetle-10 DOTSD-SuperBeetle-01 DOTSD-SuperBeetle-02 DOTSD-SuperBeetle-03 DOTSD-SuperBeetle-04 DOTSD-SuperBeetle-05 DOTSD-SuperBeetle-06 DOTSD-SuperBeetle-07 DOTSD-SuperBeetle-08 DOTSD-SuperBeetle-09 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Beetles Hatch In Mexico http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/beetles-hatch-in-mexico/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/beetles-hatch-in-mexico/#comments Sat, 16 Jul 2011 16:15:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=403144 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. The Puebla plant is the largest automobile factory in Mexico and one of the Volkswagen Group’s biggest vehicle manufacturing plants. It […]

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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.

The Puebla plant is the largest automobile factory in Mexico and one of the Volkswagen Group’s biggest vehicle manufacturing plants. It supplies North and South America as well as Europe with the new Jetta. Along with the Golf Variant, the Beetle is built exclusively in Puebla and is shipped to markets in the world.

Germany, the land where the original Beetle had hatched, needs to wait a little until the latest Käfer arrives. It will be in dealers’ showrooms in Germany from this fall.

 

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Down On The Mile High Street: 1968 Volkswagen Beetle http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/down-on-the-mile-high-street-1968-volkswagen-beetle/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/down-on-the-mile-high-street-1968-volkswagen-beetle/#comments Wed, 27 Apr 2011 13:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=392985 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 […]

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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.

This car is the daily driver and freight hauler for an artist who’s something of a legend in my south Denver neighborhood. His studio is an overwhelming house-sized collage of found objects, including thousands of automotive emblems; I’ll have to get over there and document his place with my stereo camera one of these days.

Here’s a short video that gives you the idea. This VW makes a couple of cameos.

Some folks would say that a Toyota truck with a good heater would be the ideal Denver art-material-scavenging machine, but a Beetle with a small flatbed trailer works just as well (provided you dress warmly in the winter).

DOTSD-PrimerBeetle-20 DOTSD-PrimerBeetle-01 DOTSD-PrimerBeetle-02 DOTSD-PrimerBeetle-05 DOTSD-PrimerBeetle-06 DOTSD-PrimerBeetle-08 DOTSD-PrimerBeetle-09 DOTSD-PrimerBeetle-10 DOTSD-PrimerBeetle-11 DOTSD-PrimerBeetle-12 DOTSD-PrimerBeetle-13 DOTSD-PrimerBeetle-14 DOTSD-PrimerBeetle-19 DOTSD-PrimerBeetle-18 DOTSD-PrimerBeetle-03 DOTSD-PrimerBeetle-04 DOTSD-PrimerBeetle-07 DOTSD-PrimerBeetle-15 DOTSD-PrimerBeetle-16 DOTSD-PrimerBeetle-17 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Shanghai Auto Show: Launch Of The Retro Rockets – New New Beetle Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/shanghai-auto-show-launch-of-the-retro-rockets-%e2%80%93-new-new-beetle-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/shanghai-auto-show-launch-of-the-retro-rockets-%e2%80%93-new-new-beetle-edition/#comments Wed, 20 Apr 2011 21:36:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=392234 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 […]

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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.

Volkswagen wisely dropped any historic cues. The beginnings of the Beetle were in a likewise dark era in Germany. Volkswagen also dropped the new in Beetle. After all, New New Beetle would have been a bit much.

Ulrich Hackenberg. Chief of R&D at Volkswagen said the Beetle has “added testosterone.” That’s needed, because the predecessor was pretty much of a lady’s car. Or a car for people who feel like ladies. The Beetle, or “Jia Ke Chong“ as they call it in China in the rare moments they ever see one (it is not locally produced) has a longer wheelbase, a bigger trunk, is less effeminate, and reminds more of the original Käfer.

Basic facts:

Market launch, North America: September / October 2011

Market launch, Europe: October / November 2011

Market launch, Asia: February 2012

Market launch, South America: late 2012 / early 2013

Engine power range: 77 kW / 105 PS to 147 kW / 200 PS

Lowest fuel consumption (combined), Europe: 4.3* l/100 km (1.6 TDI)

Fuel economy (combined) USA: 33 mpg* (2.0 TDI)

Engine specifications: all petrol engines are charged TSI engines (except 2.5-litre engine for USA); all diesels are new common rail TDI engines; all engines meet Euro-5 emissions standard; all US engines fulfil BIN5 / ULEV PZEV

Volkswagen Beetle. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Volkswagen Beetle. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Volkswagen Beetle. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Volkswagen Beetle. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Volkswagen Beetle. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Volkswagen Beetle. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Volkswagen Beetle. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Volkswagen Beetle. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Volkswagen Beetle. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Volkswagen Beetle. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Volkswagen Beetle. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Volkswagen Beetle. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Volkswagen Beetle. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Volkswagen Beetle. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Volkswagen Beetle. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Volkswagen Beetle. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Volkswagen Beetle. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt

 

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: The Evolving Beetle Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-the-evolving-beetle-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-the-evolving-beetle-edition/#comments Thu, 07 Oct 2010 17:18:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=367852 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 […]

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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.”

beetle4 beetle3 beetle1 To Beetle the band? (via Auto Motor und Sport) beetle2

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