By on April 15, 2019

2001 Volkswagen New Beetle in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe early-21st century fad for retro-styled cars, including the PT Cruiser, Chevrolet HHR, Mini Cooper, and Fiat 500, got its start with the late-1990s introduction of the Volkswagen New Beetle (we’re still waiting for a Nissan model made to look like the Datsun F-10). Like most people (and especially like most who had ever owned a real air-cooled Beetle), I grew weary of the sight of these allegedly cute cars after a few years, and as a result I’ve been ignoring the many examples I find during my junkyard travels.

These cars make up an important piece of our collective automotive history, though, and I resolved that I’d shoot the first one I found on a recent wrecking-yard trip. Here it is, straight from the Denver U-Pull-&-Pay! (Read More…)

By on March 13, 2019

When you start life advertising yer brand as “The People’s Car,” you’d better have a hella good value proposition. Fortunately for Volkswagen, that’s exactly what it had when the brand burst onto these shores all those years ago. Before long, driveways and parking lots were filled with affordable Bugs as customers bought into the Size Small lifestyle.

What’s is it like these days, though? This calendar year is, allegedly, the final one for the stalwart VW Beetle. Does it still offer value for money? Or is it fading away into the wings as an overpriced retro throwback that should be thrown back in favor of a Golf or Jetta? Let’s find out.

(Read More…)

By on September 14, 2018

The Volkswagen Beetle, a machine that has a grand total of three (count ’em) generations since its introduction, will be ushered out the factory door in Puebla next July. The modern Bug, as we know it today, showed up as a concept car in 1997 and entered production a couple of years later as the New Beetle. In 2011, the car found itself restyled and rechristened as simply the Beetle, just like the old Beetle. But not the New Beetle, even though most people continued to call the New New Beetle the New Beetle, despite its official name being simply Beetle.

Achtung! No one ever said naming conventions had to make sense.

Whatever you want to call it, production of the car will wrap up in mid-2019. As a send off, VW has crafted a special model option called the Final Edition.

(Read More…)

By on September 12, 2018

2015 Volkswagen Beetle Classic, Image: Volkswagen Group of America

Kiss the never-ending Summer of Love goodbye. Leaves are falling from the trees, there’s a chill in the air, and Becky from Sacramento just left with your best friend — and wallet. After two latter-day revivals, the Volkswagen Beetle, formerly the New Beetle, formerly the Beetle, formerly the KdF-Wagen, looks to be entering its final model year.

There’s no concrete plan to return it to the lineup at any point in the future, either, despite the tie-dyed dreams of certain wistful VW executives. Maybe this truly is the end. (Read More…)

By on August 15, 2018

In last week’s QOTD, we made a big list of cars that were considered the oddball choice among their market segment, but which you loved anyway.

This week we head in the opposite direction. We’re talking about the popular vehicles you loathe.

(Read More…)

By on July 2, 2018

2017 Volkswagen Beetle

Last March, Volkswagen confirmed that once the current-generation Beetle runs its course, there won’t be another. It was thought — and hoped, for some VW execs — that the automaker would switch the iconic model to electric drive, thus keeping the brand’s heritage alive while at the same time fulfilling its promise to unleash scores of EVs into the marketplace.

Not so, it seems. “Two or three generations [of Beetle] is enough now,” said VW R&D chief Frank Welsch in an interview with Autocar. “You can’t do it five times and have a ‘New New New Beetle.’”

Well, that was spring, and this is summer. Apparently, VW hasn’t completely ruled out the return of the people’s car. Should the model stage a reappearance, however, prepare yourself for some sacrilegious changes. (Read More…)

By on May 7, 2018

1972 VW Super Beetle in Colorado wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsFrom 1938 through 2003, Volkswagen Type 1s 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. (Read More…)

By on March 7, 2018

2017 Volkswagen #PinkBeetle, Image: Volkswagen

After going from the people’s car to the hippie’s car and, finally, to the car of semi-urban professional couples with no kids, Volkswagen’s retro Beetle has entered the home stretch. Despite a movement within Volkswagen HQ to keep the iconic shape around for a new generation, the German automaker now claims there’s no future for the Beetle.

Yes, once the current model disappears, it won’t crawl back out of the grave as an electric car or any other such thing. Get your tie-dyed shirt ready for the funeral. (Read More…)

By on November 10, 2017

2017 Volkswagen Beetle

We’ve been talking about the next Volkswagen Beetle — well, a few of us have — ever since the restyled two-door dropped the “New” moniker and flatted out its roofline a tad.

While the 2012 reshaping gave the model a new lease on life, it also seemed to be the plucky coupe’s end point, stylistically speaking. Where do you take a model from there, without erasing the retro charm that wooed buyers in the late 1990s? Maybe it was time for the model to die. Not surprisingly, reports arose last year claiming the Beetle had a date with the chopping block.

And yet, that rumor never really went anywhere. The model remains, its official future still in limbo. However, it seems Volkswagen brass is coming around to the idea that the Beetle deserves a permanent place in the company’s lineup, though not in the layout we’ve grown accustomed to.

Any new New Beetle will be rear-wheel drive, says VW chairman Herbert Diess. (Read More…)

By on October 23, 2017

2017 Volkswagen Beetle Dune

It’s clear what Volkswagen is trying to do with the Dune trim level of its Beetle two-door.

The company claims the Dune is inspired by classic Beetles that were modified into “dune buggies.” Which is fine, but all it really is is a current Beetle with a raised suspension, black exterior cladding, rear spoiler, bumpers unique to its trim, unique air intakes, 18-inch wheels, LED taillights, special interior stitching, and cloth/leatherette seats.

Other than that, little sets it apart from its Beetle brethren. It’s powered by the same 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder found in most Beetles (the R-Line has a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder) and mates to a six-speed automatic transmission.

A small, relatively lightweight (it’s still a tick over 3,000 pounds) compact coupe like the Beetle should be fun to drive, even if it’s raised, like the Dune is. But “should be” and “is” are two different things.

(Read More…)

By on October 13, 2017

Volkswagen Rain Commercial Screenshot - Image: Volkswagen YoutubeThis commercial is not a circa 1970 follow-up to 1969’s infamous Woodstock Music & Art Fair. It’s not a the result of marketers in the 1980s looking back 10 or 15 years. It’s not Volkswagen’s late-to-the-party retro take on counterculture. No, this is Volkswagen’s People First Warranty commercial from 2017. Today.

It is a wholehearted embrace of Volkswagen’s history. The Microbus. An original Beetle. Hippies.

“I think what’s powerful about it,” Volkswagen of America’s marketing director Greg Tebbutt says, “is we’ve got a heritage story that is unique to us and only we can tell.”

But there’s something conspicuously absent from the 60-second “Rain” spot. (Read More…)

By on August 18, 2017

2017 Volkswagen Passat - Image: VolkswagenVolkswagen of America confirmed last evening via email the alteration of the Passat and Beetle engine lineups for the 2018 model year.

In examining updated EPA mpg figures for the 2018 model year — as one does — we noticed a curious change. The 2018 Volkswagen Beetle Dune achieves slightly better highway fuel economy, 34 mpg, than the non-Dune 33-mpg 2018 Volkswagen Beetle.

By the by, after posing a handful of questions to Volkswagen of America spokesperson Mark Gillies, TTAC learned that the 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that served as the base engine in the Volkswagen Passat and Volkswagen Beetle from 2014-2017 is out. It gives way in the 2018 Passat and Beetle to the second-generation Tiguan’s EA888 Gen3B 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.

The result? Better fuel economy and more torque. (Read More…)

By on January 20, 2017

2017 Volkswagen Beetle

Rumors of the Volkswagen Beetle’s demise are either greatly exaggerated, or right on point. The Model languishes on the low end of the sales scale, hamstrung by a retro design that shuns updates and the public’s dwindling enthusiasm for compact cars.

Still, there exists fans of the model, even inside the scandal-shaken and SUV-fixated company. No one loves the Beetle more than VW design head Klaus Bischoff, who claims the model is his favorite in all Volkswagendom (um, have you seen the Atlas, Klaus?). So great is his love for the Beetle that Bischoff is urging VW to spare the model the axe and stimulate interest through a new method of propulsion.

A report suggests that top brass might be listening. (Read More…)

By on September 6, 2016

2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune front quarter, Image: © 2016 Chris Tonn/The Truth About Cars

The youthful squealing could be heard down the long driveway and through several panes of glass. When I told my daughters that I’d be picking them up from the babysitter’s house in something different, they had no idea what chariot would ferry them to softball and cheerleading practice that eventing.

My girls aren’t gearheads by most definitions. While I’m not necessarily brainwashing their preteen skulls with minutiae and data about every car on the road, I’m not letting them become numb to the wonder that is the modern car. My youngest, soon to be eight, ran screaming from the door: “BEETLE!” That’s the power of an iconic brand.

However, I’m thinking the girls reacted most viscerally to the searing yellow paint.

(Read More…)

By on August 28, 2016

1974 Volkswagen Beetle and Camper, Image Source: YouTube

In 2016, if you towed a camping trailer with anything other than a heavy-duty pickup, Mike Rowe and Denis Leary would take you out back and shoot you repeatedly with Blue Oval masculine marketing tripe.

But in 1974, if you were the proud owner of a Volkswagen Beetle, you could head off into the wilds confident in knowing that you and your loved ones would be safe sleeping in this fifth-wheel-style camper attached to the Teutonic compact’s roof.

It’s ingenious, and it needs to make a comeback.

(Read More…)

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