By on July 12, 2019

2001 Volkswagen New Beetle in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
As you no doubt already know, we lost a big name this week. The Volkswagen Beetle ⁠— formerly the Volkswagen New Beetle, Volkswagen Beetle, Volkswagen Type 1, Volkswagen, KdF-Wagen, etc — finally bit the dust in Puebla, Mexico on Wednesday.

A mariachi band was on hand to provide the last production Beetle with an up-tempo swan song, Deutsche Welle reports. While it’s the end of the line for the historic, Hitler-tainted nameplate, memories remain. Do you have a personal encounter with this model you’d like to share?

Sad to say, your always humble author has no tales of cramped lewdness to recount for the class (fun fact: the plot of the Academy Award-winning 1960 film The Apartment begins when a VW Bug proves insufficiently spacious for the extramarital affairs of a middle-aged exec). Still, a Bug does show up in my cast of car characters.

The first manual transmission I ever rowed belonged to a ’72 Super Beetle owned by a co-worker, now father to my godsons. He’d park the yellow, 1600cc classic on the uphill side of the grocery store where we toiled away at night, allowing for an easy push start the following morning. Eventually, that VW boasted velvet-draped captain’s chairs and a fully wood paneled backseat/storage area.

1972 VW Super Beetle in Colorado wrecking yard, RH rear view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

While time has a way of watering down memories, there’s no erasing the feeling of vulnerability I experienced behind the wheel of that car. I have no idea how people motored around postwar America in those rolling deathtraps. (As I’ve stated before, the Bug’s unfamiliar handling characteristics propelled my father — following a near-disastrous 1968 test drive — into the nearest Ford dealership in search of a base Falcon. Now there’s a car you could set your watch to…).

As for the New Beetle and its slightly manlier successor, I never drove one. Never even got a lift from an owner. Never filled the flower vase or installed aftermarket eyelashes. Sad!

Of course, your tales might prove far more entertaining than this writer’s limited recollections. Is there a memorable Beetle experience in your past?

 

[Images: Murilee Martin/TTAC]

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56 Comments on “QOTD: Bittersweet Beetle?...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I learned how to drive a stick on a VW Beetle, when I asked my friend who was teaching me what gear I should start out in he said, “Doesn’t matter, it’s a VW, you can start out in any gear” So much for my first lesson

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      True. It was common practice to start in 2nd gear as 1st was only good to less than a walking pace.

      • 0 avatar
        volvo

        In my 1955 type 1 there was no synchro in 1st so you could only safely engage 1st from a standstill.

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          All pre 1961 Beetles had this, once you learned how to double clutch it was nothing to engage 1st gear on the fly sans crunch .

          Standard (#111) Beetles had no synchronizers in any gear so you really had to have ‘Happy Feet’ os the tranny mostly second gear) didn’t last overly long .

          -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            volvo

            Nate
            You are absolutely correct but that only worked reliably when the vehicle was fitted with the optional

            Getriebe Gleichlaufschaltung Drehzahlmesser

            Which was not offered on early type 1 VWs imported to the US.

  • avatar
    minivan driver

    I bought my daughter a New Beetle for her high school graduation present.

    It drives really well when it isn’t broken.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      My daughter, who’s 22 and looking for her first car, desperately wants one, but it’d have to be used, and even a total newbie like her knows that’s a crap idea (unless it’s an ’18 with the long transferable warranty, in which case it’d be more than she wants to spend).

      • 0 avatar
        minivan driver

        It’s a real shame about reliability.

        For a new driver it’s a great car to drive, visibility is excellent and it stops/starts/handles really well. Even with 115HP for the 2 litre, it’s plenty peppy without being too powerful or fast.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          The ones I see tend to have more than an average level of cosmetic damage to their extremities, leading me to believe that it is difficult to judge how far the bumpers extend.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      My boss has one that he uses as a DD, looks almost exactly like the article picture. Seems like he can’t kill it- it has had several “episodes” that made him think the time was nigh, but it keeps running. It leaks like a sieve though which is embarrassing for someone parking in a reserved parking spot.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    I have told the story here before, but when I was much more naive, I bought a one way ticket from Chicago to Miami to buy a “price is too good to be true” New Beetle TDI. The plan was to drive it back over a couple of days. There were warning signs everywhere when I went to pick it up, but being foolish and unwilling to give up my deposit, I ignored them. Of course, the car overheated before I made North Miami. I dropped it at a Midas, walked several miles through Little Haiti to the airport, flew home and had the car shipped after it was repaired. Once I got it back up north, it never ran right, kept overheating, died on me on the freeway, cost hundreds to keep running, etc. I got sick of repairing it and finally fire sold it after it quit on me again.

    Oh, and the interior quality made contemporary GM vehicles look like a Maybach.

    Turned me off of both VW and diesel cars forever.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Didn’t have to worry too much about Type I’s overheating.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        That’s not true. The reason they had an alternator light was because the engine would overheat and seize up a few minutes after the fan-belt broke.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          @Todd: I believe that VW didn’t switch to alternators from generators until the early 1970’s.

          The air cooled engine and its reluctance to overheat is one of the reasons why the Kubelwagen performed so well in North Africa.

          These were simple vehicles/engines to work on. Even I could keep a decades old one running, and did. And never once had a problem in 21+ years with one overheating.

          Back in the day driving through Gasoline Alley, etc we would pass by numerous cars pulled over and overheated (common from the 40’s to 80’s) but never an air cooled VW.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            Good call on the generator. They were completely dependent on their forced-air fan cooling. The generator had a pulley at one end and drove the fan from the other. That way the charging light would reveal when the engine stopped being cooled.

  • avatar
    DougD

    Now that you mention it Steph, despite the fact that I own a 1963 Beetle I too have never had a ride in a new Beetle. Not too sad about the new Beetle going, it had run it’s course.

    I think the Hitler taint may be moreso today than 40 years ago. My family came from Holland, my grandparents got the Righteous Among the Nations award for hiding Jews. Our family had lots of Beetles in the 60s and 70s. I asked my mother (who had actual experience dealing with actual Nazis) about that and she said “Of course we drove Beetles, we needed to get to work, and Germans needed to eat too”. Such a pragmatic attitude is unfashionable today.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    My sister had one of each, a ’71 Super Beetle and a 2013 New Beetle. The ’71 was orange, had a sunroof and that semiautomatic transmission. It was her first car, and being that she was older than I was, it was the first time I went somewhere in a car without an adult. We’d crank open the windows and sunroof, pop some Chicago or Yes or David Bowie into the 8 track, and head out to wherever we needed to go. I also took my driver’s test in this car and drove it a bit myself before I got my own car.

    The New Beetle she had was a turbo with the DSG. I got to drive it a couple of times, and it was very GTI-like. It was a bit expensive for her to maintain. It met an early demise at the end of a freeway offramp when some fool wasn’t watching where he was going and rearended her badly. She replaced it with a GTI.

  • avatar
    DedBull

    The VW beetle is fully tangled in my life, without the beetle I would probably never have been born. I will try and keep this short.

    Before he was even out off high school, my dad had ended up with a Beetle. Coming from rural western Pennsylvania in 1970, there were not a lot of people who specialized in VWs. Starting in the garage at my grandparent’s farm, my dad became the go-to guy for fixing VWs around our hometown. He met my mother when she blew the engine in her Beetle, and he helped her in rebuilding it herself in her basement. Eventually they were married, and they are still together almost 40 years later.

    The Beetle, and later all the water cooled bretheren spawned a 5 bay shop, a huge collection of used parts, and helped buy the family farm I was raised on. I have driven water cooled VWs extensively, though never a New Beetle bodied car.

  • avatar
    MGL

    I have two Beetle memories, one old and one new.

    The old: I drove a classmate’s beige Old Beetle once or twice from Canberra to Sydney (about 200 miles) in the mid-80s. At the age of 19, I wasn’t a car guy, and I’m sure I’d find it intolerable these days, but the only things I remember about the car are the complete absence of engine power and the mushiness of the stick; the only way to know you’d selected the right gear was by the car’s response. My only point of reference at that point was my Datsun 120Y, which felt like a sports car in comparison.

    The new: I rented a pale green New Beetle for a business trip in Seattle in around 2010. The guy at the counter was apologetic, but it was the only car they had available in that class. It was actually pretty fun to drive, especially in Sport Mode, but the engine and cabin noise was overwhelming: every minor bump reverberated around that cavernous cabin. And I couldn’t help getting very conspicuous in this girliest of cars as we drove around town; every other New Beetle I saw on that trip was driven by a woman, most of them around half my age.

  • avatar
    volvo

    Long story so feel free to skip

    1956 one of my uncles comes back from Germany to our home (extended family) in northern Montana with a new 1955 type 1. Small round window, large canvas sunroof, tube type Phillips AM/SW radio and semaphore turn signals.
    Became a daily driver for family. Because one aunt was disabled it was fitted with hand operated throttle and brake.
    Montana winters so was then given an aftermarket gasoline powered cabin heater (unit was in passenger footwell and got gas from the gas tank). When I turned 14, the legal age for driving in 1950s Montana, I learned to drive in that car.

    The car was used as a daily driver in the family until 1989 then just parked in a garage and not driven for 10 years.

    I was offered the car in 2000. Went to Montana. Changed all fluid, new battery and it fired right up. Some dents but not body rust.

    Drove it back California and since all numbers were original (body, engine transmission) had it professionally body off restored with authentic paint, wool carpets, headliner and upholstery. Semaphores restored.

    Mechanicals needed only maintenance to bring up to date. Engine and transmission worked well.

    Drove it on weekends for about 6 years then sold it to a collector and was glad to break even on the restoration costs.

    When sold had about 74K original miles but not really a safe car on modern roads with the 29hp engine, drum brakes and gas tank in your lap. I realized I could not store and care for it the way it required. Got lots of comments when I took it out for a drive.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      A Beetle for your lifetime. Nice.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        A very nice story thank you for sharing it .

        I loved, owned and drove older (40’s 50’s & early 60’s) air cooled Beetles for decades, they weren’t race cars but unless loaded up were easily able to keep up with any traffic .

        Subscribed to get the stories,

        Yes, @ 6′ I’ve gotten live in quite a few Beetle but not for many years now =8-) .

        -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Nice story, but “semaphore turn signals”? What are these? Did it have little flags that raised and lowered like semaphore traffic signals?

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        They’re also called trafficators.

        https://duckduckgo.com/?q=semaphore+turn+signals&atb=v132-7_j&ia=images&iax=images

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Ok, little flags with a blinking light, seems rather complicated for such a simple car

          • 0 avatar
            volvo

            On the 55 they didn’t blink just were lit. Mechanism was a little complicated on the semaphore end. There was an electromagnetically pulled shaft which extended the arm. It was spring loaded to return the semaphore to the body when turned off. Steering column control did not have an auto cancellation feature you just moved the lever back to center to turn off the semaphore. Here is a picture.

            http://www.classic-store.com/product_info.php?products_id=473

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            A blinking light is so much simpler

          • 0 avatar

            Thats why I love German engineering – quirky, complicated and unreliable. They should use fully mechanical vacuum actuators.

  • avatar
    chris724

    When I was little, my mom had a shiny new ’71 Beetle. I remember the space behind the back seat, and that we never wore seat belts. It was replaced in ’78 with a Ford Fairmont wagon… More recently, my friend has a 2015 convertible with the turbo. His teenage daughters love it, although learning to drive the stick shift has been a challenge.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    It’s hard to think of a car with a more magnetic personality than an old Beetle. Example:

    One of the informal traditions with the car nuts in my office is that when someone gets a new ride, everyone goes downstairs for a show-off session. My neighbor did it with her new Infiniti QX-whatever SUV, I did it with my Audi, and so on. One lady showed off her restored ’68 Cougar (for ten points, guess how many “a Cougar for a cougar!” comments she got).

    Then one lady, who’s since moved on, brought in her restored ’72 Beetle convertible, which was a birthday gift from her wife. The Beetle drew a crowd of about 30 people, and she ended up taking people on rides around the block.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    I want a manual ’04-’06 TDI just so I can call it the stinkbug and put a straight-pipe exhaust on it.

  • avatar
    incautious

    Biggest POS I ever owned. Had a 55 with the folding sunroof. You could pull the steering wheel of while driving. If people sat in the back the metal seat frame would contact the positive terminal on the battery and either short out the electrical system or set the burlap type insulation on fire. The windshield washer was powered by the spare tire, use it during the winter and you have a flat spare tire. As for winter the ice scraper was for using on the INSIDE windshield as the defroster was non existent. Was nice that you had a fuel reserve but use it and then forget to switch it back to normal position and you were out of gas. Fun stuff. Bought a 69RT Charger and NEVER looked back

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      LOL…how did the spare tire power the windshield washer?

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        @FreedMike – air pressure from the spair to power the squirter. Not great if you deplete your spare cleaning bugs off and then need it because you have a flat.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I thought you had to be joking, but then I looked it up.

          That’s absolutely hilarious!

          Apparently the spare can’t go flat, either – the owner would *over-inflate* it, and then when the tire’s PSI got too low, the washer would just stop working.

          Therefore, to get the washer working again, you would re-fill the spare tire with air.

          You can’t make this s**t up!

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            There was a valve in the system that was supposed to prevent you from deflating the spare. I’m sure it didn’t always work properly.

            I think that went away at some point in the 60’s.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        There was a hose that connected to the valve stem of the spare tire. The pressure from the spare was directed into the reservoir for the windshield washer fluid. The washer switch opened a valve that released pressurized water from the reservoir through hoses that directed it onto the windshield.

        My 1971 Valiant Scamp had a plunger on the floor that filled with water from the washer reservoir. You’d pump it with your foot to squirt water onto the windshield. Seemed a better solution.

  • avatar
    snakebit

    The models I owned: 1962, 1964, 1966, 1967, and 1968-all as used cars.

    The ’62 amounted to what we’d call today a CPO, from a VW dealer, with new brakes and paint. I was 21, walked into the dealer, test-drove it with the salesman riding shotgun, we get back to the dealer, I tell him I like the car, he says, “good, come back with your dad and we’ll fill out the papers”. I was in Boston, my dad was living in Los Angeles and I had the asking price in my pocket, So I left, pretty angry, came back the next day and dealt with another salesman to finish the deal.

    I sold the ’62 in Boston, flew to Los Angeles and was now in the market for another VW. A college classmate mentioned in passing that a friend of his wanted to sell a ’64 model that he’d recently moved out to Koreatown/L.A.and driven there. The three of us discussed the cars history, I drove it, noticed that it would need seat upholstery but was otherwise in great shape, I agreed to buy it, for some reason, the owner seemed more interested in me than in selling his car, I don’t know what my classmate had told the seller about me but I’m not out and I’m starting to be creeped out by this unwarranted attention. Short answer-I ended up buying his car and eventually had the upholstery replaced with material very much like newer VWs came with.

    I don’t remember how I acquired the ’67. It had been painted silver but it was originally green, and I owned it during the time when California was forcing car owners to install aftermarket NOX kits(I think that’s what they were called)that screw into the VW intake manifold. It was the only car I owned that I remember taking to a drive-in movie, in this case in Van Nuys. I think I sold it when I found a used ’68 with a sliding roof that I could afford. No tales to tell about the ’68-I was happy with it for the short time that I owned it.

    Weeks before Reagan was shot, I picked up a red ’66 that belonged to a neighbor of mine in Back Bay, Boston. I remember the shooting because I had taken off for lunch, was listening to NPR and was just pulling into Boston VW to buy parts, when the news of the shooting was first announced. That was my last VW Type 1, and I sold it to my cousin in Dorchester and took the ‘T\'(subway) back to Back Bay where I would be car-less for a while.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    My dad had a VW convertible in his bachelor days. It was famous for breaking down at inopportune times. On his way to his wedding, sure enough it died and he was about an hour late, causing much consternation. No cell phones in 1960.

    I vaguely remember climbing into the little storage compartment behind the back seat as a kid, he sold it when I was 4 or 5.

  • avatar
    lstanley

    Man did I miss how successful the retro look on the New Beetle ended up being. I can still visualize the conversation I had with my friend in college about how the New Beetle would be the worst design, biggest failure in all of automotive history.

    Now up here in South Canada there are not too many New Beetles for all the right reasons (snow, salt, rusted away etc) but damned if there is one in my general neighborhood that makes me smile. It’s brand new in that cool Safari Uni color, and the guy who drives it has it lowered a bit and it rides on some aftermarket dog dishes. Looks great.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    In the 90s, old VW beetle convertibles were a staple at the beach in Southern California. The surfboards were carried in the back seat. Because of that, I expected the new beetle would be a must have at the beach. But, that never happened. The Tacoma pickup has taken the beetles place with surfboards at the beach. However, I have seen a few new Ford Rangers with surfboards …

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      “I expected the new beetle would be a must have at the beach. But, that never happened.”

      What do you mean? I remember a time when all old beetles were converted to dune buggies for beach duty. Even here in the midwest it was a popular thing to do. Lake Michigan has some awesome dunes that were a blast to drive on with a dune buggy

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Had, many Type I’s. Led to my also having a Type III squareback, which had all the durability of the Type I, plus better size, handling, etc. Followed by a Type IV which while great on paper, exhibited what would eventually harm VW in North America, with major flaws in its electrics, exhaust, brakes and poor service/dealer attitude.

    Ended up having an air cooled VW of one type or another in our/my driveway for 21 years.

    There was a time in the 70’s/80’s when you could tell a VW without looking by the squeeking from its brakes.

    Just like you could tell a VW aircooled engine by its distinctive noise.

    Type I’s over the years had various other eccentricities that others have mentioned; semaphore turn signals, no fuel gauge (instead a reserve tank that you switched to), windshield washer powered by the air pressure in the spare tire (which was located in the front hood), no heat (all Type I owners carried a small scraper to clear the inside of their windshield), handling that took a while to become comfortable with (a pendulum motion like a micro version of a 911), and its prowess driving through the snow (“What car does the man that drives the snowplow drive to get to work?”).

    If you were lucky enough to have a radio (Blaupunkt of course) it did not turn off when you turned of the engine, you had to turn the power off separately. Many tales of dead batteries due to that. Also if you had the little interior light on the side of the roof, it too had to be turned off manually. And for many years VWs ran 6 volts before converting to 12v circa I believe 1967(?).

    The rear cargo slot, over the engine compartment became as others have mentioned an area for kids to rest/sleep/stand in. The engine vibration working like a dryer. Too bad about any carbon monoxide.

    Then in later years there was the optional heater, basically a furnace placed in the hood. Not exactly a safety feature. And there was no ‘thermostat’ it was either on full blast or off. You roasted or froze. Never will forget its green dashboard indicator.

    They were also perhaps the most forgiving vehicle to learn how to drive stick on. You could start in 2nd and if not on the highway generally didn’t need to go past 3rd. We practiced timing our shifts so that we didn’t need to use the clutch. Then there was their ‘semi-automatic’ which you shifted but which came without a 3rd pedal.

    On a ‘good’ or new(er) Type I, you would often have to crack open a window to properly close the door. You also knew if one had suffered frame rot, because the doors would have to be ‘lifted’ slightly in order to close.

    I retain a soft spot for air cooled VW’s and would not say no to adding a Type I cabriolet or even a Karmann-Ghia to my driveway, however both now appear to be very desirable and priced accordingly.

    And my memories regarding air cooled VW’s are both too long and in some instances to incriminatory for me to post on a public forum.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    1980s me:

    There was a really cool kid surfer punk at my high school who had a green Baja Bug. His neighbor was a friend of mine who also wanted a Baja, so he bought this brown one that “needed a little work.”

    Well that project went nowhere so I decided – being the dumb kid that I was – that I would buy the Baja from him so I could fix it up. When I went over to his house, he was nowhere to be seen. He didn’t want to any of his friends to buy it; but his dad showed the car to me. It looked great and I was ready to buy until he said “You better fix this before driving it” – and proceeded to push the roof up, which made the top of the body separate from bottom, right where the firewall meets the footwell.

    I decided to pass. I was a dumb teenager but not that dumb; especially without welding equipment.

  • avatar
    z9

    I really enjoyed the two 1997 era turbo New Beetles I owned. I have always been a sucker for cars that feel like design exercises and the NB was exactly that. Every detail felt like it was part of a coherent design vision that was unlike any other car at the time. Passengers loved riding in the NB — it was like nothing else they’d experienced, particularly the visibility out the front to each side. The interior proportions were perfect for me as a tall thin guy — headroom was endless, which just feels great if you’re used to being squeezed vertically into cars your whole life. The hatchback was as practical as a Golf. My 2003 edition was an intense green with matching green seats and wheels; this would be ridiculous in any other car but in the Beetle it just emphasized the design language. Car design doesn’t have to be about super-sexy two-seaters and it doesn’t need to be backed up with ridiculous performance. The NB allowed a design that was both retro and modern accessible to a wide audience. I appreciated that despite the heartbreaking lack of reliability that couldn’t imagine putting up with now.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I never owned a Beetle, my dad thought they were death traps but became very well acquainted with them over the years.

    As a teen car geek I helped my neighbor fix her 69 Beetle including fresh candy apple blue paint and the nice Pioneer Supertuner FM cassette player under the dashboard.
    Other people I knew I gave them a hand fixing the mechanical issues with them from brakes, engine to the always important fuel line.
    I drove a number of them including the Type III Fastback and Squareback including the autostick which wasn’t bad, never drove a fully automatic which must have been a dog.
    Still wouldn’t mind one for a project car, just go through the JC Whitney or Empi catalog and build.
    If I had to choose a New Beetle for daily use it would be the Turbo or 180 hp Turbo S. Second generation turbo Fender or Dune edition is very worthy.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    First car I owned was a ’68 Karmann Ghia. It had disc brakes in front (!!) and, with a lower center of gravity, lacked the Beetle’s tendency to roll. I did a mild, bolt on “hot rod” job on the engine. Replaced the intake manifold and stock 1 bbl carb with a 2 bbl setup expressly made for the purpose by Holley (called the “Bug Spray). I added oil pressure and temperature gauges (oil operating temp in the summer was 270 degrees) and a Hurst shifter that was worlds better than the wonky VW shifter, partly because it had a reverse gear lockout.

    The biggest problem was that the openings for cooling air into the engine compartment weren’t adequate, so I devised a “pop-up” system using spacers on the bolts that attached the “hood” to the hinges.

    Driving from DC to Houston, before the 55 mph national speed limit was instituted, I got a solid 30 mpg @70 mph. Unfortunately, that was running the engine a little lean which, in aircooled engines, makes them run hot. So, I re-jetted the carb to run a bit richer, and the engine was much happier.

    It was a fun little car and, having ridden in various small “sports cars” of the era, and the Beetle itself, I did not feel especially vulnerable. Had the tires not been virtually new when I bought the car, I would have sprung for 4 Michelin-X radials. As it was, the bias ply tires would hydroplane at around 60 mph. The good thing was that the steering was so communicative that you could immediately feel this before anything crazy started to happen.

    When I got work in Houston, I had to sell the car after 6 months; I simply could not stand being without a/c, even though I grew up in metro DC without a/c in either house or car.

    I always thought the New Beetle was stupid. Make a front-engine,FWD car look like a rear-engine, RWD car. What’s the point of that? The Beetle looked the way it did because it’s mechanicals required it to be that way. There were a variety of other, similar European cars that had the same appearance, which were contemporaries of the Type 1 — the Fiat 600, the Renault Dauphine come to mind.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      A Ghia is just about the only “Beetle” I have a desire for and I would have wanted it set up like yours.

      Yeah I thought the New Beetle was a silly idea without a rear engine and rear wheel drive. That would have been a great use for an engine like Subaru developed for the BRZ – a modern Beetle.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        I can see more small cars with rear engine configurations like the Renault Twingo or a modern flat-4.
        In this era of hybrids and electrics they can be modern and space efficient with a hatch and a frunk.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Another Beetle memory: Early 80s, I was living with my parents, friend of my brother’s stopped by while driving across the country and his engine gave up the ghost. He spent a few days rebuilding it in our driveway, then went on his way. I’m pretty sure he’d never rebuilt anything before, and it’s not like we had the most extensive tool collection in our garage, and of course he hadn’t ordered any parts in advance. Not too many cars would let you do that.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    My aunt has had 2 New Beetles, a 2003 (the super bubble) and a 2014 (the current version), both convertibles. I had the “dis”pleasure of riding in the backseat of the 03 with the top down. Since I couldn’t remove my legs, I was forced to lewdly straddle the front seat. It was one of the most uncomfortable 15 minute rides of my life, and I’ve been in the backseat of a 98 Mustang and a 17 Mustang.

  • avatar
    macnab

    Can somebody tell me the source of the distinctive high pitch chirp that the old beetle engine made? You could hear it a block away. It sounded like it may have been an exhaust whistle. I noticed that when an engine had been overhauled it was gone.

  • avatar

    The only memory regarding VW Beetle I have is from “Und der Regen verwischt jede Spur”, movie I watched when I was a teenager. It was a tragic story so since then I associate Beetle with a tragedy and would never buy one.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    I have a grudging respect for the old Beetle. I suspect it was done in by the antifreeze lobby.

    The New Beetle? I drove the New Beetle in its introductory year at the [redacted] Proving Grounds back-to-back with about 50 other current-model vehicles. Based on that drive, I immediately placed it in the “Never Consider” column.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    The Type 1 Beetles to avoid back in the days of my youth were the ’68 through ’70 models. VW engineering modified the alloy in the crankcase halves which “softened” the metal which, in turn, allowed the studs holding the heads on to loosen which cause head gasket leaks. The problem reared its ugly head around 40k miles or so. Helicoil made a killing on these. Late ’70 on returned to a harder alloy. Also the valve heads for #3 cylinder tended to separate from the stems due to inadequate cooling (the air flow was poorer for this cylinder due to the ducting/fan layout) on many of these vehicles up until the latter ’70s. But pulling the engine to fix these things was ridiculously easy (except for a couple of firewall nuts) and added to the owner experience.


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