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.

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Junkyard Find: 1972 Volkswagen Super Beetle

From 1938 through 2003, Volkswagen Type 1 s rolled off assembly lines on five continents, and they sold very well in the United States well into the 1970s. I see many of them in my junkyard travels, but many more have gone unphotographed to The Crusher.

Now that I see only a few discarded air-cooled Beetles each year, I’m making more of an effort to document them. Here’s a ’73 Super Beetle in a Denver yard.

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Junkyard Find: 1969 Volkswagen Beetle

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.

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Junkyard Find: 1972 "Gazelle" Mercedes-Benz SSK Replica

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.

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Junkyard Find: 1974 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Coupe

The air-cooled Volkswagen was so rust-prone that it managed to get serious cancer in the normally rust-free San Francisco Bay Area, but quite a few have managed to hang on to life in that region. This last-year-of-production Karmann Ghia coupe showed up at the same Oakland wrecking yard that gave us the beachfront rust victim ’84 Toyota MasterAce and the gory Integra Halloween display last week. Its rust isn’t quite in the same league as the van’s, but then it probably lived further from the ocean.

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Junkyard Find: 1970 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

I see lots and lots of air-cooled Beetles in self-service wrecking yard, and this has been the case for the 30 years I’ve been frequenting such places. There seems to be an inexhaustible supply of old Type 1 Bugs slowly trickling into junkyards, and I usually ignore them (though I thought this ’73 Super Beetle was interesting enough to photograph). It’s not that I don’t like these cars— I’ve owned a few and thought they were great fun— but mostly they’re just background. Junked Karmann Ghias, on the other hand, get my attention. Sure, they’re Beetles under the skin, but you just don’t see many of the crypto-sporty air-cooled VWs these days. Here’s one I found at a snow-covered Denver self-service yard last week.

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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.

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Down On The Mile High Street: 1968 Volkswagen Beetle

Given the way that Beetles have had all their parts swapped over the decades, I’m always reluctant to try to nail down an exact model year of a street-parked example, particularly when it’s a primered-out survivor owned by a guy who spends a lot of time at junkyards. If we are to go by the taillights and hood latch, this car should be a ’68… or it might be a ’64 with a fender swap… or a ’74 pan with a ’68 body. Anyway, the important thing is that it’s an old air-cooled Volkswagen survivor that gets used as a tow vehicle.

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  • James Hendricks The depreciation on the Turbo S is going to be epic!
  • VoGhost Key phrase: "The EV market has grown." Yup, EV sales are up yet again, contrary to what nearly every article on the topic has been claiming. It's almost as if the press gets 30% of ad revenues from oil companies and legacy ICE OEMs.
  • Leonard Ostrander Daniel J, you are making the assertion. It's up to you to produce the evidence.
  • VoGhost I remember all those years when the brilliant TTAC commenters told me over and over how easy it was for legacy automakers to switch to making EVs, and that Tesla was due to be crushed by them in just a few months.
  • D "smaller vehicles" - sorry, that's way too much common sense! Americans won't go along because clever marketing convinced us our egos need big@ss trucks, which give auto manufacturers the profit margin they want, and everybody feels vulnerable now unless they too have a huge vehicle. Lower speed limits could help, but no politician wants to push that losing policy. We'll just go on building more lanes and driving faster and faster behind our vehicle's tinted privacy glass. Visions of Slim Pickens riding a big black jacked up truck out of a B-52.