By on August 12, 2011

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

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26 Comments on “Down On The Mile High Street: Volkswagen Beetle...”

  • avatar

    My father carefully restored an old Volkswagen Beetle, and he never forgot to take a fully charged A-B-C fire extinguisher with him when he took it out of the garage.

    • 0 avatar

      These are remarkable cars. I cannot believe the devotion they have for some people. I grew up around them and had one for my first year of college in Colorado. They are death traps.

      I got a chance to drive one a year ago. It was shocking how miserable these cars are.

  • avatar

    This one is a 73 with the German version of Rostyle wheels from a 75 or later.

    Installing air conditioning with the big York compressor was referred to as the “kiss of death” for the engine back in the 1970’s.

    The burn marks are a result of everyone insisting on installing the plastic fuel filter in the engine compartment and not maintaining the fuel lines.

    • 0 avatar

      @OldandSlow, actually I think those all-silver pressed-steel wheels were the Lemmertz GT wheels, which came on US-market 1975s and the special “Jeans” models in Europe. (The black-and-silver Rostyle wheels were available in earlier years IIRC.) It’s been almost 30 years since I owned a Beetle though so my memory may well fail me here!

      Apart from the wrong-year wheels, the car looks very good and very original, though.

    • 0 avatar

      O_O They put the York compressor on that engine *_*

      The BIG one that people convert to run air tools on?
      HOW DID THAT EVEN WORK? It must have used 35 of the available 64hp.

  • avatar

    Of course there are still tons of them used as daily drivers in SoCal. Denver winters must be a challenge for the heating system. Yes, the plastic inline fuel filters are a dumb idea, but the cloth-wrapped rubber fuel hoses that dont show cracks until it is too late and lack of hose clamps dont help.

  • avatar

    >> Even with its allegedly more modern McPherson strut front suspension, the Super had even scarier handling characteristics than the torsion-bar regular Beetle. <<

    Judging from the Super that I drive, this is true only if the front end is not properly maintained, causing the dreaded "Super Shimmies". If everything is sorted, it is actually quite stable and corners pretty well.

    • 0 avatar

      I had a ’74 Super in Rally Yellow and it developed the shimmies after a few years. Never quite got it fully sorted out, but I did enjoy it other than that.

  • avatar

    Vertical headlamps and large round taillamps with yellow inserts are post ’72. Lack of a curved windshield means that it isn’t a Super Beetle.

    My dad briefly had a ’72 Super Beatle and as I recall, though it was not in the same league as my Elan, it didn’t handle badly, Macpherson struts or not.

    • 0 avatar

      Your comment on Super Beetles is fine because you already specified it has to be newer than ’72, but, because otherwise this touches upon a common misconception, it’s worth reminding everyone that the ’71 and ’72 Super Beetles have “flat” windshields.

      Also, this one has to be pre-’74 because it doesn’t have the cylindrical shock-absorbing bumper mounts. Pretty much narrows it down to ’73, as OldandSlow already noted above.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah… I always thought all the big rear window cars were Super Beetles, whatever the front-end looked like.

      Fantastic little cars to look at… even if the purists hate the Super Beetles, I think they’re pretty neat (except for that year that had the ungodly oversized tail-lamps….)

    • 0 avatar

      There were flat windshield Super Beetles, but this isn’t one of them, the hood and front fenders were different.

      • 0 avatar

        The flat-windshield Super Beetle was built 1971-72, and was known as the 1302 outside North America. In 1973 they switched to the rounded windshield, and the model number outside North America was incremented to 1303.

  • avatar

    Chicks dig pink Bugs

  • avatar
    TwoTone Loser

    My high school gym teacher still has one of these, same year and color, and drives it to work everyday.

    Though the same can be said about my history teacher, who still has his Renault Alliance. He made it to work on time everyday, but he lived across the street from the school.

  • avatar

    Q: “Hey, what’s that black stuff on the engine lid?”

    A: VW’s patented patina.

  • avatar

    I used to sell parts for these back in the day, and it looks like a 1975 to me. I may be wrong (age) but I think that was the first year of those tail lights.
    Here in Canada, 1976 was the last year of the beetle and I think all the ones we got then were gold in colour, stripped plain beetles with fuel injection. There were I think some fancy convertibles that came after that, but not many.

  • avatar

    This looks just like the 1973 Beetle I drove through college in the early 90s. Yes, this has to be a ’73…as noted above, the bumpers are pre-shock absorber type, and the large tail lights are 1973 and up.

  • avatar

    I like this old VW Beatle more than the new one. I owned one few years ago and it was a very good car even it was 30 years old vehicle.

  • avatar

    1973. I had this exact vehicle, minus the fancy wheels.

    $1,995 in 1973, as my sister wanted the absolute base model, no radio, no options.

    250K later, I sold the car for $900 in 1993. Pretty good value retention. Bulletproof car.

  • avatar

    Never liked these cars– they’re missing all the charm and trim of the earlier models. The VW sweetspot(for me) was two years: 1965 and 1966.

    67 has those terrible flat headlights, 64s have the small windows. Let us not mention the 68 and above cars. Blech.

  • avatar

    I’ll agree that it’s a ’73.
    The ’67 ditched the swing axle rear and was a 1500cc engine, both of which improved the drive much-my favorite year!

  • avatar

    I stand corrected. It is a 1973.
    The 67 beetle, though, I’m sure still had the swing arm rear suspension. They did something to it to make it safe, though. It may have been a sway bar but I can’t remember now. The fully independent suspension with cv joints appeared in the 1968 model, along with those ugly bumpers.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    McPherson strut Super Bs were terrible. way too delicate compared to the twin beam torsion bar front ends. 65s had the old style king pins. 66 1300s had the big windshield and balljoints. 67s had a 12 volt electrical system. IMO a vast improvement over the 6 v system. 68s had 4 lug wheels. 69s had IRS. The 66 and down bugs were nearly unstoppable in snow. They didnt need much of road either.

    • 0 avatar

      All Super Beetles had McPherson struts … and the 1968 models introduced both IRS and four-bolt wheels (no lugs on VWs of any kind!). Otherwise you’ve got things right.

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