Junkyard Find: 1973 Volkswagen Super Beetle

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1973 volkswagen super beetle

I see many air-cooled Beetles in self-service wrecking yards these days. In fact, I have always seen many VW Type 1 s 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).

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  • Burnbomber Burnbomber on Jul 21, 2012

    One of my neighbors had a beautiful restored Karmann Ghia convertible that whet my appetite, a lot. I did some searching, found some Ghias and Beetles (and other older convertibles), test drove them, and wisely graduated to a 1st generation Miata. Which I still have and love. Speedy quick with modern amenities (including AC), and no antique design. I'll always remember a return trip from Austin in an ice storm. I was literally the only car on I-35, in a 68 Beetle. I had to stop atop the hills & scrape the windshield ice. The standard defroster (didn't even know about gas heaters then) would only clear the lower windshield corners.

  • Splitshot Splitshot on Jan 14, 2021

    I'm trying to sell my 1973 super beetle runs great and need some inside cosmetic stuff. Seats are in really good condition, no holes in the floor it does have some rust under, so I'm not sure what to sell it for...help

  • Readallover I always found it hilarious that my parents`friends who paid up for the luxury and exclusivity of a M-B were shocked and disappointed when they went to Europe and found their car was significantly cheaper AND widely used as cabs over there.
  • Laszlo I own a 1969 falcon futura 4 door hardtop, original inline 6 and c4 transmission and it still runs to this day.
  • BklynPete So let's get this straight: Ford hyped up the Bronco for 3 years, yet couldn't launch it to match the crazy initial demand. They released it with numerous QC issues, made hay for its greedy dealers, and burned customers in the process. After all that, they lose money on warranties. The vehicles turn out to be a worse ownership experience than the Jeep Wrangler, which hasn't been a paragon of reliability for 50 years. The same was true of the Aviator, Explorer, several F-150 variants, and other recent product launches. The Maverick is the only thing they got right. Yet this company that's been at it for 120 years. Just Brilliant. Jim Farley's non-PR speak: "You don't get to call me an idiot. I get to call myself an idiot first."Farley truly seems hapless, like the characters his late cousin played. Bill Ford is a nice guy but more than a bit slow on the uptake too. They have not had anything resembling a quality CEO since Alan Mulally turned the keys over to Mark Fields - the mulleted glamor boy who got canned after 3 years when the PowerShi(f)t transaxles exploded. He more recently helped run Hertz into the ground with bad QC and a faulty database that had them arresting customers. Ford is starting to resemble Chrysler in the mid-Seventies Sales Bank era. Well, at least VW has cash and envies Ford's distribution reach and potential profitability.
  • Mike Beranek This guy called and wants his business model back.
  • SCE to AUX The solid state battery is vaporware.As for software-limited pack capacity: Batteries are obviously the most expensive component of an EV, so on the rare occasion that pack capacity is dramatically limited (as in your 6-year-old example), it's because economies of scale briefly made sense at the time.Mfrs are not in the habit of overbuilding pack capacity just for fun, and then charging the customer less.Since then, pack capacities have been slightly increased via software because the mfr decides they can sacrifice a little bit of the normal safety/wear margin in the interest of range. We're talking single-digit percentages, not the 60/75 kWh jump in your example.Every pack has maybe 10% margin built into it, so eating into that today (via range increases) means it's not available to make up for battery degradation tomorrow. My 4-year-old EV still has its original range(s) and 100% SOH, but that's surely because it is slowly consuming the margin built into the pack.@Matt Posky: Not everything is a conspiracy to get your credit card account, and the lengthy editorial about this has nothing to do with solid state batteries.