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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  • Carlson Fan The way the truck drops in the rear and the bed/tailgate become a ramp is genius! I'd buy it just for that alone!!! It would be awesome for loading snowmobiles and garden tractors in the back. However, my trucks need to be able to regularly tow heavy loads long distance, summer & winter. Sorry folks, current battery tech. isn't even close to what it needs to be for me to think even one second that a battery truck could replace my current ICE powered truck. An EV for a DD makes sense , but for truck you need a MUCH better battery.
  • Inside Looking Out For midsize sedan it is too small. It basically is a compact car.
  • Stodge I test drove the 200S and damn, its suspension was so firm, I was convinced it didn't actually include suspension at all. It hurt my spine and hip, it was that firm.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird If Mopar had only offered sport hatch versions of the 200 and or Dart they might have sold more of them for folks who wanted some more versatility without having to go for a small utility Compass Patriot or new at the time Renegade or Cherokee.
  • El scotto I started driving in the late 70's. The cars high school kids could afford and wanted were very very worn out muscle cars. Oh Lordy those V-8's bring back some happy memories. Oh there some outliers in my crowd, a VW Bug and a Dodge Scamp with slant six; neither car would die. In 10 years their will be young people wanting very used Teslas or Dodge's with hemis. B&B, I say that if someone is excited about their EV, Hybrid, or Hemi welcome them to the club of people who like cars.