By on September 6, 2016

2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune front quarter, Image: © 2016 Chris Tonn/The Truth About Cars

The youthful squealing could be heard down the long driveway and through several panes of glass. When I told my daughters that I’d be picking them up from the babysitter’s house in something different, they had no idea what chariot would ferry them to softball and cheerleading practice that eventing.

My girls aren’t gearheads by most definitions. While I’m not necessarily brainwashing their preteen skulls with minutiae and data about every car on the road, I’m not letting them become numb to the wonder that is the modern car. My youngest, soon to be eight, ran screaming from the door: “BEETLE!” That’s the power of an iconic brand.

However, I’m thinking the girls reacted most viscerally to the searing yellow paint.

(Read More…)

By on August 28, 2016

1974 Volkswagen Beetle and Camper, Image Source: YouTube

In 2016, if you towed a camping trailer with anything other than a heavy-duty pickup, Mike Rowe and Denis Leary would take you out back and shoot you repeatedly with Blue Oval masculine marketing tripe.

But in 1974, if you were the proud owner of a Volkswagen Beetle, you could head off into the wilds confident in knowing that you and your loved ones would be safe sleeping in this fifth-wheel-style camper attached to the Teutonic compact’s roof.

It’s ingenious, and it needs to make a comeback.

(Read More…)

By on June 2, 2016

1974 Volkswagen Beetle

If there was ever a hermetically sealed time capsule of a car, this is it. And we can thank an old, religious Italian man who hated driving for keeping it so fresh.

A beyond pristine 1974 Volkswagen Beetle, once a common sight on roadways everywhere, just sold at Silverstone Auctions in Denmark for a price that would make an original buyer choke on their Tab. Did they get a good deal? It depends on how much value you put on “perfect.” (Read More…)

By on June 1, 2016

2017 Volkswagen #PinkBeetle, Image: Volkswagen

Volkswagen, as it slides further into sales bedlam, has decided the best thing to boost its profile in America is a pink Beetle with a hashtag for a name.

I wish I was making this up.

(Read More…)

By on May 27, 2016

2017 Volkswagen Beetle

The Volkswagen Beetle’s days are numbered, but at least it will go to its grave with updated looks.

Design changes are coming for the 2017 model, with a host of new trim lines on tap — in Europe, at least. Expect the updated model to be the resurrected nameplate’s last makeover, as production is said to end in late 2018. (Read More…)

By on May 13, 2016

2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune Low Angle Front 3/4, Image: © 2016 Kamil Kaluski/The Truth About Cars

When a concept car is introduced at a major auto show, it provides a glimpse into the future of an automaker’s next model. Some concepts are really cool. Some are not. Most never make it into production. A few do. The Baja Bug-inspired VW New Beetle Dune Concept was unveiled at the 2000 Los Angeles Auto Show. It was an off-road-ready New Beetle powered by a 2.3-liter VR5 that sent its power to all four wheels via a six-speed manual transmission.

More than a decade later, a similar, but water-downed, Beetle Dune Concept was shown at the 2014 North American International Auto Show. That car was raised two inches, had a 210 horsepower engine, a cool ski rack, but was front wheel drive. That concept car finally made it into production this year with relatively minor changes — but should it have?

(Read More…)

By on April 6, 2016

1969 Volkswagen Beetle in California junkyard, LH Front View - © 2016 Murilee Martin

The production run of the Type 1 Volkswagen Beetle, which was built using essentially the same design from 1938 through 2003, will never be surpassed; the runner-up Morris Oxford II/Hindustan Ambassador was made from 1954 through 2014, and we feel fairly sure that the Chinese Communist Party will put a stop to Chinese production of the first-gen Kia Pride/Ford Festiva long before it beats the Beetle in the year 2053.

I see quite a few Beetles during my junkyard travels, but rarely photograph them. This one, found in a San Francisco Bay Area self-serve yard, had enough of a story to tell that I felt compelled to document it. (Read More…)

By on March 16, 2016

2016 Kia Optima SXL Exterior

The Russian car market is looking grimmer than the last days of the Romanov family, but that’s proving to be a big opportunity for Kia.

That, a delay for Volkswagen’s overseas diesel fix, Porsche employees are rolling in dough, electric rallycross could be on the way, and FCA soars in Europe … after the break!

(Read More…)

By on January 25, 2016

06 - 1972 Gazelle Kit Car in Colorado junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

Trying to track down the history of all the varieties of fiberglass-bodied kit cars intended to look something like the Mercedes-Benz SSK will drive you crazy in a hurry because so many companies building these cars popped up in the 1970s and 1980s. You could build an “SSK” based on hardware from a Chevy Chevette, a Ford Pinto, or a VW Type 1 Beetle. Many did. Because Classic Motor Carriages and Fiberfab and Tiffany Motor Cars all called their versions “Gazelle” (trying to parse the relationships between those companies is like deciphering the wiring in a Porsche 928), this has become the generic term for these cars.

Anyway, here is an early variety of Gazelle, built on a 1972 Volkswagen Beetle pan, that I found in a Denver yard a few weeks ago. (Read More…)

By on November 17, 2015


Volkswagen announced Tuesday, one day before the opening of the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show, that it will sell two new special editions of the Beetle that harken back to previous specials offered up by the automaker.

The Beetle Dune is as close as you can get to a Murano CC without getting all-wheel drive or a Land Rover Evoque. The jacked-up Beetle will wear unique body cladding and Dune stickers that are in no way a nod to the Frank Herbert novels of yesteryear.

(Read More…)

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