Junkyard Find: 1978 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

junkyard find 1978 volkswagen beetle convertible

Volkswagen sold the air-cooled Beetle in the United States all the way through 1979, amazingly, overlapping Dasher and Rabbit sales by more than you’d have expected. By that time, the only air-cooled VW left standing here was the Beetle convertible (if you want to get nit-picky, that car was really a Super Beetle, since the last year for the original not-so-super Beetle was 1977 here and all the Beetle convertibles were Supers after 1971). I’ve never found a ’79 Beetle in the junkyard, though I’ve tried my best, but here’s the next-best thing: a ’78 in a Denver self-serve yard last year.

This car’s final parking place ended up being next to a Turbo New Beetle and a purple ’76 non-Super Beetle. One must assume that the junkyard employees had a sense of style.

Junkyard shoppers generally grab air-cooled VW engines right away … but I suspect this may be the result of a single VW hoarder in every metropolitan region around the continent.

The most important difference between the regular 1938-style Beetle and the Super Beetle may be seen in the front suspension; the original Beetle had a funky torsion-bar suspension while the Super got a modern McPherson strut rig. Having owned and driven both types of Beetles, I must say that neither the ride nor the handling feels any better in the Super.

While the Beetle was strongly obsolete by about 1951, it managed to get its job done for many decades after that. By the late 1970s, though, there was no affordable way to squeeze it through American crash-safety and emissions requirements.

It will go to its grave with a Stone Temple Pilots home-taped cassette inside.

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  • Jeff S Jeff S on Apr 26, 2021

    This really brings me back. My older brother had a series of bugs all yellow. 1967 VW Bug convertible bought new and totaled 2 years later, 1970 VW Bug convertible that rusted in a few years, and a 1974 Super Beatle hardtop that rusted as well. I really enjoyed driving the 1967 VW Convertible.

  • Steve Biro Steve Biro on Apr 26, 2021

    "Having owned and driven both types of Beetles, I must say that neither the ride nor the handling feels any better in the Super." Agreed. In fact, I always thought the original Beetle was more fun. I like its somewhat more-immediate steering control and the flat windshield/dashboard.

  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. The idea of a self-driving vehicle has commercial appeal. But at this point, consumers aren't willing to pay to put their lives in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time.
  • TitaniumZ Of course they are starting to "sour" on the idea. That's what happens when cars start to drive better than people. Humanpilots mostly suck and make bad decisions.
  • Inside Looking Out Why not buy Bronco and call it Defender? Who will notice?
  • Sobro My 2012 Yukon had only the passenger side ignitor recalled. Makes me wonder what penny pinching GM did for the driver's airbag.