Beetle – officially the
Volkswagen Type 1, informally
Germany the Käfer (German, "beetle") and in parts of the
English-speaking world the Bug – is a two-door,
five-passenger, rear-engine economy car that was manufactured
and marketed by German automaker
Volkswagen (VW) from 1938 until
The need for a people's car ("Volkswagen" in German), its concept and
its functional objectives, was formulated by the leader of Nazi
Germany, Adolf Hitler, who wanted a cheap, simple car to be
mass-produced for his country's new road network. Lead engineer
Ferdinand Porsche and his team took until 1938 to finalise the design.
The influence on Porsche's design of other contemporary cars, such as
the Tatra V570, and the work of
Josef Ganz remains a subject of
dispute. The result was the first Volkswagen, and one of the first
rear-engined cars since the Brass Era. With 21,529,464 produced,
Beetle is the longest-running and most-manufactured car of a
single platform ever made.
Although designed in the 1930s, the
Beetle was only produced in
significant numbers from 1945 on (mass production had been put on hold
during the Second World War) when the model was internally designated
Volkswagen Type 1, and marketed simply as the
"People's Car"). Later models were designated
Volkswagen 1200, 1300,
1500, 1302 or 1303, the former three indicating engine displacement,
the latter two derived from the type number. The model became widely
known in its home country as the Käfer (German for "beetle") and was
later marketed as such in Germany, and as the
Volkswagen in other
countries. For example, in
France it was known as the Coccinelle
(French for ladybug).
The original 25 hp
Beetle was designed for a top speed around
100 km/h (62 mph), which would be a viable speed on the
Reichsautobahn system. As
Autobahn speeds increased in the postwar
years, its output was boosted to 36, then 40 hp, the
configuration that lasted through 1966 and became the "classic"
Volkswagen motor. The
Beetle ultimately gave rise to variants,
Karmann Ghia, Type 2 and external coach builders. The
Beetle marked a significant trend, led by Volkswagen, Fiat, and
Renault, whereby the rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout increased
from 2.6 percent of continental Western Europe's car production
in 1946 to 26.6 percent in 1956. The 1948
Citroën 2CV and
other European models marked a later trend to front-wheel drive in the
European small-car market, a trend that would come to dominate that
market. In 1974, Volkswagen's own front-wheel drive Golf model
succeeded the Beetle. In 1994,
Volkswagen unveiled the Concept One, a
"retro"-themed concept car with a resemblance to the original Beetle,
and in 1998 introduced the "New Beetle", built on the contemporary
Golf platform with styling recalling the original Type 1. It remained
in production through 2010, being succeeded in 2011 by the more
Beetle (A5), which was also more reminiscent of
the original Beetle.
In the 1999
Car of the Century
Car of the Century competition, to determine the world's
most influential car in the 20th century, the Type 1 came fourth,
Ford Model T, the Mini, and the Citroën DS.
1.1 "The People's Car"
1.4 Wartime production
1.5 Post-war production and boom
1.7 Worldwide end of production
4 Evolution and design changes
4.2 1950–1959 models
4.3 1960–1969 models
4.4 1970–1979 models
6 Introduction to international markets
6.2 United Kingdom
7 International production
7.2 Southern Rhodesia
7.5 South Africa
8.1 Drag racing
8.2 Formula Vee
8.3 Uniroyal Fun Cup
8.4 Rally and Rallycross
8.6 Trans Am Series
8.7 Armstrong 500
8.8 Baja 1000
9 See also
12 Further reading
13 External links
Ferdinand Porsche.[note 1]
"The People's Car"
Model of the 1932 Porsche Type 12, Nuremberg Museum of Industrial
Type 32 prototype, developed for NSU (Autostadt ZeitHaus, Wolfsburg)
Scale model of the W30 prototype
The originating concept behind the first Volkswagen, the company, and
its name, is the notion of a people’s car – a car affordable and
practical enough for common people to own. Hence the name, which
is literally "people's car" in German, pronounced
[ˈfɔlksvaːɡən]). Although the
Volkswagen was mainly the
Ferdinand Porsche and Adolf Hitler, the idea is much
older than Nazism, and existed since mass-produced cars came
around. Contrary to the United States, where the
Ford Model T
Ford Model T had
become the first car to motorize the masses, contributing to household
car ownership of about 33% in 1920 and some 46% in 1930 — by the
early 1930s, the German auto industry was still mostly limited to
luxury models, and the average German could rarely afford anything
more than a motorcycle. As a result, only one German out of 50 owned a
In April 1934, Hitler gave the order to Porsche to develop a
Volkswagen.[note 2] The epithet Volks- literally, "people's-" had been
applied to other Nazi-sponsored consumer goods as well, such as the
Volksempfänger ("people's radio").
In May 1934, at a meeting at Berlin's Kaiserhof Hotel, Chancellor
Hitler insisted on a basic vehicle that could transport two adults and
three children at 100 km/h (62 mph) while not using more
than 7 litres of fuel per 100 km (32 mpg US/39 mpg UK). The
engine had to be powerful for sustained cruising on Germany's new
Autobahnen. Everything had to be designed to ensure parts could be
quickly and inexpensively exchanged. The engine had to be air-cooled
because, as Hitler explained, not every country doctor had his own
Ethylene glycol antifreeze was only just beginning to be used
in high-performance liquid-cooled aircraft engines. In general,
radiators filled with water would freeze unless the vehicle was kept
in a heated building overnight or drained and refilled each
The "People's Car" would be available to citizens of Nazi Germany
through a savings scheme, or Sparkarte (savings booklet), at 990
Reichsmark, about the price of a small motorcycle. (The average weekly
income was then around 32RM.)
KdF Propaganda: "A family playing by a river with a KdF-Wagen and
Ferdinand Porsche developed the Type 12, or "Auto für Jedermann" (car
for everybody) for
Zündapp in 1931. Porsche already preferred the
flat-four engine, and selected a swing axle rear suspension (invented
by Edmund Rumpler), while
Zündapp insisted on a water-cooled
five-cylinder radial engine. In 1932, three prototypes were
running. All of those cars were lost during World War II, the last
in a bombing raid in
Stuttgart in 1945.
Zündapp prototypes were followed by the Porsche Type 32, designed
in 1933 for NSU Motorenwerke AG, another motorcycle company. The Type
32 was similar in design to the Type 12, but it had a flat-four
engine. NSU's exit from car manufacturing resulted in the Type 32
being abandoned at the prototype stage.
Initially designated Type 60 by Porsche, the design team included
Erwin Komenda and Karl Rabe. In October 1935, the first two Type-60
prototypes, known as cars V1 and V2 (V for Versuchswagen, or "test
car"), the V1 being a sedan and the V2 a convertible, were ready.
In 1936, testing began of three further V3 prototypes, built in
Stuttgart shop. A batch of thirty W30 development
models, produced for Porsche by Daimler-Benz, underwent
1,800,000 mi (2,900,000 km) of further testing in 1937.
All cars had the distinctive round shape and the air-cooled,
rear-mounted engine. Included in this batch was a rollback soft top
called the Cabrio Limousine. A further batch of 44 VW38
pre-production cars produced in 1938 introduced split rear windows;
both the split window and the dash were retained on production Type 1s
until 1953. The VW38 cars were followed by another batch of 50
VW39 cars, completed in July 1939.
The car was designed to be as simple as possible mechanically. The
air-cooled 25 hp (19 kW) 995 cc
(60.7 cu in) motors' built-in oil cooler and flat-four
engine configuration's superior performance was also effective for the
Afrika Korps in Africa's desert heat. The suspension design
used compact torsion bars instead of coil or leaf springs. The Beetle
is nearly airtight and will briefly float.
On 26 May 1938, Hitler laid the cornerstone for the
in Fallersleben. He gave a speech, in which he named the car
Strength Through Joy
Strength Through Joy Car", usually
abbreviated to KdF-Wagen). The name refers to Kraft durch Freude
('Strength Through Joy'), the official leisure organization of Nazi
Germany. The model village of Stadt des KdF-Wagens was created near
Lower Saxony in 1938 for the benefit of the workers at
the newly built factory.
Volkswagen had only just started small scale production, building
about 210 Beetles, before civilian production was halted at the start
of the war. Except for two military prototype units, these KdF
sedans were allocated to military officers as personal cars. Hitler
was given the very first convertible
Beetle built in 1938. Both
704cc and 984cc air-cooled engines were fitted in these early
The first volume-produced versions of the car's running-gear and
chassis were military vehicles, the Type 82 Kübelwagen (approximately
52,000 built) and the amphibious Type 128 and 166 Schwimmwagen (about
Front view of a Wehrmacht Typ 82E in dunkelgelb Pictures like these
have led to years of rumours that Beetles served with the Afrika Corps
further perpetuated by a Model Kit box. No beetle served in North
Africa. The closest they got was a pre-war publicity drive to
Afghanistan explaining some desert pictures (of civilian beetles),
however the 82E was in fact used only after the war by serving English
Army Officers and staff of the re-opened factory.
A handful of KdF-Wagens were produced, primarily for the Nazi elite
from 1941 to 1944, as the Typ 60. The factory also built the
Kübelwagen (Typ 82), Schwimmwagen (Typ 166), and a handful of other
variants, as Wehrmacht combat vehicles. It produced small numbers of
Kommandeurswagen (Typ 87), with a Typ 1 body mounted on a four-wheel
drive Schwimmwagen chassis; the fenders were widened to accommodate
Kronprinz all-terrain tires (reminiscent of the later Baja Bugs).
Kommandeurswagen were produced up to 1944, when all production was
halted because of heavy damage to the factory from Allied air raids.
Much of the essential equipment had already been moved to underground
bunkers for protection, which let production resume quickly after
hostilities ended. Due to gasoline shortages late in the war, a few
"Holzbrenner" Beetles were built, powered by pyrolysis gas producers
located under the front hood.
Post-war production and boom
1949 Type 1 split-window (known as a "pretzel" among enthusiasts,
"split" or "splitty") was commonly used to describe transporters of
1949 Type 1 interior
In occupied Germany, the Allies followed the
Morgenthau plan to remove
all German war potential by complete or partial pastoralization. As
part of this, in the Industrial plans for Germany, the rules for which
Germany was to be allowed to retain were set out. German car
production was set at a maximum of 10% of the 1936 car production
Mass production of civilian VW cars did not start until post-war
Volkswagen factory was handed over by the Americans to
British control in 1945; it was to be dismantled and shipped to
Britain. Thankfully for Volkswagen, no British car manufacturer
was interested in the factory; an official report included the phrases
"the vehicle does not meet the fundamental technical requirement of a
motor-car… it is quite unattractive to the average buyer… To build
the car commercially would be a completely uneconomic enterprise."
The factory survived by producing cars for the British Army
instead. Allied dismantling policy changed in late 1946 to
mid-1947, although heavy industry continued to be dismantled until
1951. In March 1947,
Herbert Hoover helped change policy by stating
There is the illusion that the New
Germany left after the annexations
can be reduced to a "pastoral state". It cannot be done unless we
exterminate or move 25,000,000 people out of it.
The re-opening of the factory is largely accredited to British Army
officer Major Ivan Hirst. Hirst was ordered to take control of the
heavily bombed factory, which the Americans had captured. His first
task was to remove an unexploded bomb that had fallen through the roof
and lodged itself between some pieces of irreplaceable production
equipment; if the bomb had exploded, the Beetle's fate would have been
Germany needed jobs and the
British Army needed
vehicles, Hirst persuaded the British military to order
20,000 cars, and by March 1946 the factory was producing
1,000 cars a month (in Army khaki, under the name
1), which Hirst said "was the limit set by the availability of
materials". During this period, the car reverted to its original
Volkswagen and the town was renamed Wolfsburg. The first
1,785 Type 1s were made in 1945.
The jeweled one-millionth Type 1
Following the British Army-led restart of production and Hirst's
establishment of sales network and exports to Netherlands, former Opel
manager (and formerly a detractor of the Volkswagen) Heinz Nordhoff
was appointed director of the
Volkswagen factory in 1949.
Under Nordhoff, production increased dramatically over the following
decade, with the one-millionth car coming off the assembly line by
1955. During this post-war period, the
Beetle had superior performance
in its category with a top speed of 115 km/h (71 mph) and
0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) in 27.5 seconds with fuel
consumption of 6.7 l/100 km (36 mpg) for the standard
25 kW (34 hp) engine. This was far superior to the Citroën
2CV, which was aimed at a low speed/poor road rural peasant market,
and Morris Minor, designed for a market with no motorways or freeways;
it was even competitive with more advanced small city cars like the
In Small Wonder, Walter Henry Nelson wrote:
The engine fires up immediately without a choke. It has tolerable
road-handling and is economical to maintain. Although a small car, the
engine has great elasticity and gave the feeling of better output than
its small nominal size.
There were other, less-numerous models, as well. The Hebmüller
cabriolet (officially Type 14A), a sporty two-seater, was built
between 1949 and 1953; it numbered 696. The Type 18A, a fixed-top
cabriolet, was produced by
Austro-Tatra as a police and fire unit; 203
were assembled between January 1950 and March 1953.
The chassis became a technological and parts donor to
2 (also known as Bulli) and external coachbuilders like Rometsch,
Dannenhauer & Stauss, Wilhelm Karmann, Enzmann, Beutler,
Hebmüller & Söhne, Drews, Wendler.
On 17 February 1972, when
Beetle No. 15,007,034 was produced, Beetle
production surpassed that of the previous record holder, the Ford
Model T. By 1973, total production was over
16 million, and by 23 June 1992, over 21 million had been
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Though extremely successful in the 1960s, experiencing its greatest
sales growth in North America between 1960 and 1965, the
increasingly faced with stiff competition from more modern designs
globally. The Japanese had refined rear-wheel-drive, water-cooled,
front-engine, small cars including the
Datsun 510 and Toyota Corona,
whose sales in the North American market grew rapidly at the expense
Volkswagen in the late 1960s.
Honda introduced the N600, based on
the space-efficient transverse-engine, front-wheel-drive layout of the
original Austin Mini, to the North American market in late 1969, and
upgraded the model to the
Honda Civic in 1972. The Japanese "big
three" would soon dominate compact auto sales in North America. In
Ford introduced its Pinto, which had some market impact as a low
cost alternative. As the 1960s came to a close,
increasingly stiff competition from European cars as well. The Beetle
was faced with competition from new designs like the
Fiat 127 and
Renault 5, and more robust designs based on the Austin
such as the Superminis. German competitors,
Opel also enjoyed
strong sales of modern smaller cars like the
Ford Escort and Opel
Kadett. Volkswagen's attempts to boost the power of their air-cooled
motor to meet the demands of higher highway speeds in the late 1960s,
then comply with new pollution control regulations, caused problems
for reliability and fuel efficiency that impaired the reputation of
the aging design. Safety issues with the
Beetle came under increasing
scrutiny, culminating in the 1972 release of a rather scathing
report. During the early 1970s, sales of the
Beetle in Europe and
North America plummeted.
There were other models introduced to supplement the
Beetle in the VW
product line throughout the 1960s; the Type 3, Type 4, and the
NSU-based and larger K70. None of these models, aimed at more upscale
markets, achieved the level of success as the Beetle. The
over-reliance on a single model, now in decline, meant that Volkswagen
was in financial crisis by 1974. It needed German government funding
to produce the Beetle's replacement.
Production lines at
Wolfsburg switched to the new water-cooled,
front-engined, front-wheel-drive Golf designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro
in 1974, sold in North America at the time as the "Rabbit". The Golf
would eventually become Volkswagen's most successful model since the
Beetle. The Golf would be periodically redesigned over its lifetime,
entering its seventh generation in 2012, with only a few components
carried over between generations, while the
Beetle had only minor
refinements of its original design.
The Golf did not kill
Beetle production, nor did the smaller Polo
which was launched a year later. Production of the
Beetle continued in
smaller numbers at other German factories until 19 January 1978, when
mainstream production shifted to Brazil and Mexico: markets where low
operating cost was an important factor. However, this shift in
production did not completely end sales of the
Beetle in Europe,
although after this date sales of the
Beetle in Europe were very low.
Beetle sedans were produced for U.S. markets until July 1977 and
for European markets until 1985, with private companies continuing to
import cars produced in Mexico after 1985. The Beetle
convertible/Cabriolet ended production (as 1979 models) as of January
Beetle was produced in Puebla, Mexico, in July 2003. The
final batch of 3,000 Beetles were sold as 2004 models and badged as
the Última Edición, with whitewall tires, a host of previously
discontinued chrome trim, and the choice of two special paint colors
taken from the New Beetle. Production in Brazil ended in 1986, then
started again in 1993 and continued until 1996.
Beetle outlasted most other cars which had adopted the
rear-engine, air-cooled layout such as those by Subaru, Fiat, and
General Motors. Porsche's 356 series which originally used some
Volkswagen-sourced parts, continued to use the classic rear-engine
layout (which later became water cooled) in the
Porsche 911 996
series, which remains competitive in the second decade of the 21st
Worldwide end of production
"Última Edición" (Final Edition) in Aquarius Blue (2003)
By 2002, over 21 million Type 1s had been produced, but by 2003,
annual production had dropped to 30,000 from a peak of
1.3 million in 1971. VW announced the end of production in June
2003, citing decreasing demand, and the final original Type 1 VW
Beetle (No. 21,529,464) rolled off the production line at Puebla,
Mexico, on 30 July 2003, 65 years after its original launch. This
last Beetle, nicknamed El Rey (Spanish for "The King" after a
legendary Mexican song by José Alfredo Jiménez) was delivered to the
company's museum in Wolfsburg, Germany.
To celebrate the occasion,
Volkswagen marketed a final, special series
of 3,000 Beetles marketed as "Última Edición" (Final Edition) in
light blue (Aquarius Blue) or beige (Harvest Moon Beige). Each car
included the 1.6 engine, whitewall tires, a CD player with four
speakers, chrome bumpers, trim, hub caps and exterior mirrors, a
Wolfsburg emblem above the front trunk's handle, chrome glove box
badge, body coloured wheels, tinted glass, a rear parcel shelf, and VW
Última Edición plaque.
A mariachi band serenaded production of the last car. In Mexico, there
was an advertising campaign as a goodbye for the Beetle. In one of the
ads was a very small parking space on the street, and many big cars
tried to use it, but could not. After a while, a sign appears in that
parking space saying: "Es increíble que un auto tan pequeño deje un
vacío tan grande" (It is incredible that a car so small can leave
such a large void). Another depicted the rear end of a 1954 Beetle
Volkswagen was established in Mexico) in the left side of
the ad, reading "Erase una vez..." (Once upon a time...) and the last
Beetle in the right side, reading "Fin" (The end). There were
other ads with the same nostalgic tone.
Engine: Fuel-injected (Bosch Digifant) four-cylinder horizontally
opposed, 1,584 cc, 50 hp (37 kW), 98.1 N⋅m
(72.4 lb⋅ft) @ 2,200 rpm, three-way catalytic converter
Rated fuel mileage: 32.5 mpg‑US (7.2 L/100 km;
Max cruising speed: 130 km/h (81 mph)
Brakes: front disc, rear drum
Tank: 40 L (11 US gal; 9 imp gal)
Colours: Aquarius blue, Harvest Moon beige.
Volkswagen prototyped a 1.3 L diesel engine. Volkswagen
made only two of these naturally aspirated, air-cooled boxer diesel
engines, and installed one engine in a Type 1 and another in a Type 2.
Beetle was time tested on the
Nürburgring and achieved
0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) in 60 seconds.
Illustration of the Beetle's engine air cooling and exhaust systems
Beetle featured a rear-located, rear-wheel drive, air-cooled
four-cylinder, boxer engine in a two-door bodywork featuring a flat
front windscreen, accommodating four passengers and providing luggage
storage under the front bonnet and behind the rear seat – and
offering a coefficient of drag of 0.41; to this relatively good CD,
the also streamlined rear of car was of help. The bodywork attached
with eighteen bolts to its nearly flat chassis which featured a
central structural tunnel. Front and rear suspension featured torsion
bars along with front stabilizer bar – providing independent
suspension at all wheels. Certain initial features were subsequently
revised, including mechanical drum brakes, split-window rear windows,
mechanical direction-indicators and the non-synchronized gearbox.
Other features, including its distinctive overall shape, endured. In
Beetle was prized for its seemingly unchanged appearance and
"marketed to American consumers as the anti-GM and Ford: 'We do not
believe in planned obsolescence. We don't change a car for the sake of
Its engine, transmission, and cylinder heads were constructed of light
alloy. An engine oil cooler (located in the engine fan's shroud)
ensured optimal engine operating temperature and long engine life,
optimized by a thermostat that bypassed the oil cooler when the engine
was cold. Later models of the carburetor featured an automatic choke.
Engine intake air passed through a metallic filter, while heavier
particles were captured by an oil bath. After 1960, steering featured
a hydraulic damper that absorbed steering irregularities.
Indicative of the car's utilitarian design, the interior featured
painted metal surfaces, a metal dash consolidating instruments in a
single, circular binnacle, adjustable front seats, a fold-down rear
seat, optional swing-out rear windows, front windows with pivoting
vent windows, heating via air-to-air exchange manifolds operating off
the engine's heat, and a windshield washer system that eschewed the
complexity and cost of an additional electric pump and instead
received its pressurization from the car's spare tire (located in the
front luggage compartment) which was accordingly overinflated to
accommodate the washer function.
Throughout its production, VW marketed the
Beetle with a four-speed
manual transmission. From 1961 (and almost exclusively in Europe),
VW offered an optional version of the
transmission: a regular 4-speed manual transaxle coupled to an
electromagnetic clutch with a centrifugal clutch used for idle.
Subsequently, (beginning in 1967 in Europe and 1968 in the United
States), VW offered an optional semi-automatic transmission (marketed
as Automatic Stick Shift and also called AutoStick,)
which was a 3-speed manual coupled to an electro-pneumatic clutch and
While the overall appearance of the
Beetle changed little over its
life span, it received over 78,000 incremental changes during its
Evolution and design changes
1960 VW 1200 Cabriolet
It was in 1948 that
Wilhelm Karmann first bought a VW
Beetle sedan and
converted it into a four-seated convertible. The
began production in 1949 by
Karmann in Osnabrück. After successfully
presenting it at VW in Wolfsburg, production started in 1949.
The convertible was more than a
Beetle with a folding top. To
compensate for the strength lost in removing the roof, the sills were
reinforced with welded U-channel rails, a transverse beam was fitted
below the front edge of the rear seat cushion, and the side
cowl-panels below the instrument panel were double-wall. In addition,
the lower corners of the door apertures had welded-in curved gussets,
and the doors had secondary alignment wedges at the B-pillar.
The top was cabriolet-style with a full inner headliner hiding the
folding mechanism and crossbars. In between the two top layers was
1 in (25 mm) of insulation. The rear window was tempered
safety glass, and after 1968, heated. Due to the thickness of the top,
it remained quite tall when folded. To enable the driver to see over
the lowered top, the inside rearview was mounted on an offset pivot.
By twisting the mirror 180 degrees on a longitudinal axis, the mirror
glass would raise approximately 2 in (5.1 cm).
The convertible was generally more lavishly equipped than the sedan
with dual rear ashtrays, twin map pockets, a visor vanity mirror on
the passenger side, rear stone shields, and through 1969, wheel trim
rings. Many of these items did not become available on other Beetles
until the advent of the optional "L" (Luxus) Package of 1970.
After a number of stylistic and technical alterations made to the
Karmann cabriolet, (corresponding to the many changes VW made to
Beetle throughout its history), the last of 331,847 cabriolets
came off the production line on 10 January 1980.
During this period, a myriad of changes were made throughout the
vehicle beginning with the availability of hydraulic brakes and a
folding fabric sunroof in 1950. The rear window of the VW Beetle
evolved from a divided or "split" oval, to a singular oval. The change
occurred between October 1952 and March 1953. Beetles built during
this time were known as a "Zwitter", or "hybrid", as they used the
split-window bodyshell with oval-model chrome trim, vent windows and
1953 models received a redesigned instrument panel. The one-piece
“Pope's Nose” combination license plate/brake light was replaced
by a smaller flat-bottomed license plate light. The brake light
function was transferred to new heart-shaped lamps located in the top
of the taillight housings.
Volkswagen added 2 mm to the cylinder bore, increasing
the displacement from 1,131 (1100) cc to 1,192
(1200) cc. This coincided with upgrades to various key
components including a redesign of the crankshaft. This increased
power from 30 hp (22 kW; 30 PS) to 36 hp
(27 kW; 36 PS) and improved the engine's free revving
abilities without compromising torque at lower engine speeds. At
the same time, compression ratios were progressively raised as, little
by little, the octane ratings of available fuel was raised in major
markets during the 1950s and 1960s.
In 1955, the separate brake lights were discontinued and were combined
into a new larger taillight housing. The traditional VW semaphore turn
signals were replaced by conventional flashing directional indicator
lamps for North America.
For 1956, the
Beetle received what would become one of its more
distinctive features, a set of twin chrome tailpipes. Models for North
America gained taller bumper guards and tubular overrider bars.
For 1958, the
Beetle received a revised instrument panel, and a larger
rectangular rear window replaced the previous oval design.
1960 models received a front sway bar along with a hydraulic steering
For 1961, significant technical advances occurred in the form of a new
engine and transmission. The engine remained at 1200cc but the power
increased to 40 hp (30 kW; 41 PS) primarily due to an
increase in compression ratio to 7.1:1. The carburetor received an
electric automatic choke and the transmission was now synchronized on
all forward gears. The traditional semaphore turn signals were
replaced by conventional flashing directional indicators worldwide.
The standard model called the TYPE 111-112, continued to use the
36 hp 1200 engine of the old architecture that dates back to
Franz Reimspiess original design of 1937 all the way until the end of
the 1965 model year. 1965 standard model in 1965 is called the "A"
For 1962, the
Beetle received a mechanical fuel level gauge in place
of the former fuel tap. The Standard model continued without a gas
gauge until the end of the 1965 model year. At the rear, larger tail
lights were introduced incorporating a separate amber turn signal
section to meet new European standards (these turn signals remained
red in the US market until 1973). The former hand-pump style
windscreen washer was replaced by a new design using compressed air. A
Schrader valve located on the washer fluid tank allowed the system to
be charged at a filling station to the recommended 35 psi
1964 models could be identified by a widened light housing on the
engine lid over the rear license plate, however the standard model
continued to use the old teardrop style to the end of the 1965 model
The largest change to date for the
Beetle was in 1965: the majority of
the body stampings were revised, which allowed for significantly
larger windows. The windshield increased in area by 11% and was now
slightly curved, rather than flat. Door windows increased accordingly
by 6% (and door vent window edges were canted slightly back), rear
side windows 17.5%, and the rear window 19.5%. The result was a more
open, airy, modern look.
For 1966, the big news was an optional new 1300cc 50 hp
(37 kW; 51 PS) engine in lieu of the previous 1200cc engine
that had been the sole engine since 1954. Models so equipped carried a
"1300" badge on the engine lid. The 1300cc engine was standard for
For 1967, a yet-again larger-displacement engine was made available:
1500cc, 53 hp (40 kW; 54 PS) at 4,200 rpm.
1200 and 1300 engines continued to be available, as many markets based
their taxation on engine size. 1500cc Beetles were equipped with
front disc brakes and were identified with a "VW 1500" badge on the
engine lid. North America received the 1500 engine as standard
equipment, but did not receive front disc brakes. These models were
identified by a "Volkswagen" badge on the engine lid.
The rear suspension was significantly revised including a widened
track, softer torsion bars and the addition of a unique
Z-configuration equalizing torsion spring. On US, UK and Ireland
models, the generator output was increased from 180 to 360 watts,
and the entire electrical system was upgraded from 6 volts to 12
volts. The clutch disc also increased in size and changes were made to
the flywheel. New equipment included a driver's armrest on the door
and locking buttons on both doors. Safety improvements included
two-speed windscreen wipers, reversing lights (in some markets), and a
driver's side mirror. In accord with the newly enacted US Federal
Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108, North American models received a
dual-circuit brake system, the clear glass headlamp covers were
deleted; the headlamps were brought forward to the leading edge of the
front fenders, and the sealed-beam units were exposed and surrounded
by chrome bezels. (Throughout the rest of the world markets the 1967
model sold in Europe et al. still retained the older headlights
(including its counterparts in
Latin America – especially the
Brazilian market model retaining the pre-1965 bodystyle). Another
oddity of the 1967 North American market
Beetle is the rear bumper
overriders (towel rails) – the overriders have a different shape
unlike the older models besides the one-year only engine decklid.
1968 Type 1
1968 was a year of major change. The most noticeable of which were the
new larger, higher mounted C-section bumpers. At the rear, new larger
taillamps were adopted and were able to accommodate reversing lamps,
which were previously separate bumper-mounted units. Beetles worldwide
received the '67 North American style vertical headlamp placement, but
with replaceable-bulb headlamps compliant with
ECE regulations rather
than the US sealed beams. Other improvements were a new outside gas
filler with spring-loaded flap, eliminating the need to open the trunk
to refuel. The fuel gauge was integrated with the speedometer and was
now electrically actuated rather than cable-operated. The windscreen
washer was now pressured by the spare tire, which was to be maintained
at a pressure of 42 psi (2.9 bar). A pressure valve in the
connecting hose closed airflow to the fluid reservoir if spare tire
pressure fell below 30 psi (2.1 bar), which was above the
recommended pressures for the road tires. A ventilation system was
introduced, which drew fresh air into the cabin from louvres on the
front decklid. For improved shifting, the shift lever was shortened,
stiffened and moved rearward by 78 mm (3.1 in).
A number of safety improvements were made in order to comply with new
American safety regulations: these included trigger-operated outside
door handles, a secondary front hood latch, collapsing steering
column, soft vent window latches, rotary glove compartment latch and
instrument panel knobs labeled with pictographs. US models received a
padded instrument panel that was optional in other markets. To meet
North American head restraint requirements, VW developed the
industry's first high-back bucket seat. The Standard model 111-112,
called the 1200 "A" still used the 1200 engine but for the first time
for Europe it came with a 12 volt system.
'68–'69 Automatic StickShift badge
A new 3-speed semi-automatic gear box with torque converter and
vacuum-operated clutch became available mid-production year. The
semi-automatic models received a vastly improved semi-trailing-arm
rear suspension (also known as "independent rear suspension" although
the earlier swing axle Beetles were also independent) and eliminated
the need for the equalizing torsion spring. This new rear suspension
layout would eventually become an option on later models. Beetles
equipped with the automatic were identified with a "VW Automatic"
badge on the engine lid and a matching decal in the rear window. In
North America, the badging and decal were later revised to read,
"Automatic Stick Shift".
For 1969, the only exterior change was the fuel filler flap no longer
had a finger indentation due to a new interior-mounted fuel door
release. For North America, the
Beetle received a heated rear window,
day/night mirror and the semi-trailing, independent suspension with
double jointed swing axles as standard equipment. In other markets,
manual transmission models retained a swing axle independent
suspension which would continue until the end of German Beetle
In 1970, a new "L" (Luxus) Package was introduced including, among
other items, twin map pockets, dual rear ashtrays, full carpeting, a
passenger-side visor vanity mirror, and rubber bumper moldings. The
optional 1500 cc engine now came with an engine lid having two
rows of cooling louvers, while the convertible's engine lid gained two
additional sets for a total of four. For North America, the
1500 cc engine was enlarged to 1600 cc engine and produced
57 hp (43 kW; 58 PS)
There were two Beetles for the first time in 1971, the familiar
Beetle and a new, larger version, different from the
windscreen forward. All Beetles received an engine upgrade: the
optional 1500 cc engine was replaced by a 1600 cc with twin-port
cylinder heads and a larger, relocated oil cooler. The new engine
produced 60 hp (45 kW; 61 PS). The ventilation system
was improved with the original dash-top vents augmented by a second
pair aimed directly at the driver and passenger. For the first time
the system was a flow-through design with crescent-shaped air exits
fitted behind the rear quarter windows. Airflow could be increased via
an optional 2-speed fan. The standard
Beetle was now badged as the VW
1300; when equipped with the 1600 engine, it was badged 1300 S, to
avoided confusion with the Type 3, which wore VW 1600 badges.
The new, larger
Beetle was sold as the 1302/1302 S, offering nearly
43% more luggage capacity, up from 140 liters in front to 260
(remaining at 140 in back) A new
MacPherson strut front suspension
was incorporated, similar to what was used in the Type 4, and the
front track was widened. The new suspension layout allowed the spare
tire to be positioned flat under the trunk floor. Although the car had
to be lengthened slightly to accomplish this, it allowed a reduction
in turning radius. To gain additional trunk volume, the under-dash
panel[clarification needed] was lowered, allowing the fuel tank to be
shifted rearward. From the windscreen back the big
identical to its smaller progenitor, except for having the also new
semi-trailing arm rear suspension as standard equipment. Overall, the
Beetle was 50 mm (2.0 in) longer, 35 mm
(1.4 in) wider, and rode on a 20 mm (0.79 in)-longer
wheelbase. Both Beetles were available with or without the L Package.
The convertible was now based on the 1302 body. In North America, the
1302 was marketed as the Super
Beetle and came only with the L Package
and 1600 cc engine. While it lacked the front disc brakes that
normally accompanied the larger motor, it was fitted with brake drums
that were slightly larger than the standard Beetle. With the Super
Beetle being sold as the premium model in North America, the standard
Beetle, while retaining the same 1600 cc engine, was stripped of many
of its earlier features in order to reduce the selling price. Bright
window and running board moldings disappeared, along with the
day/night mirror, horn ring, map pocket, locking glove box and
miscellaneous other items.
1972 models had an 11% larger rear window
(40 mm [1.6 in] taller), and the convertible engine lid
with four rows of louvres was now used on all Beetles. Inside the
vehicle, a four-spoke energy-absorbing steering wheel was introduced,
the windshield wiper/washer knob was replaced in favor of a steering
column stalk, and intermittent wipers were a new option available in
selected markets. An engine compartment socket for the proprietary VW
Diagnosis system was also introduced. The rear luggage area was fitted
with a folding parcel shelf. A limited-edition Commemorative model was
launched in celebration of the Beetle's passing the record of the Ford
Model T as the world's most-produced automobile. The Commemorative
Beetle was a 1302 LS finished in a special Marathon Blue Metallic
paint and unique 4.5 x 15 styled steel wheels. In the U.S., it was
marketed as the Super
Beetle Baja Champion SE.
1973 1303/Super Beetle
1973 models featured significantly enlarged "elephant foot" taillamps
mounted in reshaped rear fenders. In the engine bay, the oil-bath air
cleaner gave way to a dry element filter, and the generator was
replaced with an alternator. The 1302/Super became the 1303 with a new
taller wrap-around windscreen. The changes to the cowl and windshield
resulted in slight redesign of the front hood. The instrument panel,
formerly shared with the standard Beetle, was all-new and incorporated
a raised speedometer pod, rocker-style switches and side-window
defrosters. The limited-edition GSR (Gelb-Schwarzer Renner; German for
"Yellow-Black Racer") was a 1303 S available only in Saturn Yellow
paint equipped with special 5.5 in (140 mm) wide sport
wheels fitted with 175/70-15 Pirelli Cinturato CN36 high-performance
radial tires. Front and rear deck lids were finished in matte black,
as was all exterior trim with the exception of the chrome headlamp
bezels. Inside were corduroy and leatherette high-bolstered sport
seats and a small diameter three-spoke steering wheel with padded
leather rim and a small red VW logo on the bottom spoke. In North
America, the GSR was sold as the Super
Beetle Sports Bug. The North
American model had body-color deck lids and was available in Marathon
Blue Metallic in addition to Saturn Yellow. In some markets, the sport
wheels (in both 4.5-inch and 5.5-inch widths), sport steering wheel
and sport seats became available as stand-alone options.
For 1974, North American models received newly required 5 mph
(8.0 km/h) impact bumpers mounted on self-restoring energy
absorbers, which added approximately 25 mm (0.98 in) to the
car's overall length. On the Super Beetle, the steering knuckle, and
consequently the lower attachment point of the strut, was redesigned
to improve handling and stability in the event of a tire blowout. A
Beetle was introduced based on the 1303 LS.
Available in unique metallic paint colors, the car featured
styled-steel 5.5 in (140 mm) wide sport wheels wrapped in
175/70-15 tires, corduroy seat inserts, upgraded loop-pile carpet,
wood-look instrument panel trim and a padded steering wheel with
bright accents. In the North American market, a limited-edition Sun
Bug was introduced as a standard
Beetle or Super Beetle. Both were
finished in metallic gold and featured styled-steel 4.5 in
(110 mm)-wide sport wheels. Inside were brown corduroy and
leatherette seats, loop-pile carpet, and padded four-spoke deluxe
steering wheel. The Super
Beetle Sun Bug included a sliding-steel
In 1975, front turn indicators were moved from the top of the front
fenders down into the bumper. At the rear, the license plate light
housing was now molded of plastic with a ribbed top surface. To comply
with tightening emission standards, the 1600 cc engine in Japanese and
North American markets received Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection, a
derivative of the Bosch D-Jetronic system formerly used in the VW Type
3 and Type 4. The injected engine received a new muffler and in
California a catalytic converter. This necessitated a bulge in the
rear apron under the rear bumper and replaced the distinctive twin
"pea shooter" tailpipes with a single offset pipe, making injected
models identifiable at a glance. 5 mph (8.0 km/h)
bumper-equipped North American models retained fender-top front
indicators. The 1303 received rack and pinion steering. In North
America, the 1303/Super
Beetle sedan was moved upmarket and was now
christened La Grande Bug. Similar to the Big
Beetle of 1974, La Grande
Bug was available in blue or green metallic paint in the U.S. and
blue, green or gold metallic in Canada and was equipped with the same
features as the 1974 Sun Bug. Mid-year, the Love Bug was introduced
for North America: based on the standard Beetle, it was available only
in Phoenix Red or Ravenna Green (both colors shared with the
VW-Porsche 914) with all exterior trim finished in matte black. A
price leader, the Love Bug retailed for less than a standard Beetle.
The "Volkswagen" script on the engine lid of all North American
Beetles was replaced with a "Fuel Injection" badge.
In 1976, the 1303/La Grande Bug was discontinued, with the larger body
continuing only in convertible form. To make up for the loss in North
American markets, the standard
Beetle was upgraded, regaining some of
the features that were removed in 1971. In addition, the 2-speed
ventilation fan was included, previously available in North America
only on the larger Beetle. The automatic stickshift option was
discontinued as well.
1977 models received new front seats with separate head restraints.
This was the final model year for the
Beetle sedan in North America.
The convertible was offered in a "triple white" Champagne Edition in
Alpine White with white top and interior with the padded deluxe
steering wheel, tiger maple wood-grain dash trim and 4.5 in
(110 mm) wide sport wheels. Approximately 1,000 Champagne
Editions were produced.
For 1978, a new Champagne 2nd Edition convertible was launched,
available in blue or red metallic paint with white leatherette
interior. Features included the 4.5 in (110 mm) wide styled
steel sport wheels, AM/FM radio, analog quartz clock, padded deluxe
steering wheel and rosewood-grain instrument panel trim. Approximately
1,100 were produced.
In 1979, VW offered an Epilogue Edition of the convertible in triple
black with features similar to the 1978 Champagne Edition. This would
be the last year of convertible production worldwide as well as the
final year for the
Beetle in the USA and Canada.
First model of the Standard Superior, as introduced at the IAMA in
Berlin in 1933
Josef Ganz designed a car, the "May Bug", that is very similar to the
Volkswagen Beetle. Hitler saw the car in 1933 at an auto show.
There is a strong resemblance to the Standard Superior, an automobile
produced from 1933 to 1935 by Standard Fahrzeugfabrik of Ludwigsburg,
Germany, founded by motorcycle maker Wilhelm Gutbrod and unrelated to
the Standard Motor Company of England. These small cars were designed
according to the patents by
Josef Ganz and featured transverse,
two-stroke, two-cylinder engines mounted in front of the rear
axle. However, Porsche, two years prior to the Standard Superior's
introduction, had developed the Type 12 for Zündapp, already
featuring many design similarities with the
Tatra V570 prototype (1933)
The Austrian car designer
Hans Ledwinka was a contemporary of Porsche
working at the Czechoslovakian company Tatra. In 1931, Tatra built the
V570 prototype, which had an air-cooled flat-twin engine mounted at
the rear. This was followed in 1933 by a second V570 prototype
with a streamlined body similar to that of the Porsche Type 32.
The rear-engine, rear-wheel drive layout was a challenge for effective
air cooling, and during development of the much larger V8 engined
Tatra T77 in 1933 Tatra registered numerous patents related to air
flow into the rear engine compartment. The use of Tatra's patented
air cooling designs later became one of ten issues for which Tatra
filed suit against VW.
Both Hitler and Porsche were influenced by the Tatras. Hitler was
a keen automotive enthusiast, and had ridden in Tatras during
political tours of Czechoslovakia. He had also dined numerous
times with Ledwinka. After one of these dinners Hitler remarked to
Porsche, "This is the car for my roads". From 1933 onwards,
Ledwinka and Porsche met regularly to discuss their designs, and
Porsche admitted "Well, sometimes I looked over his shoulder and
sometimes he looked over mine" while designing the Volkswagen.
Tatra T97 of 1936 had a 1,749 cc, rear-located, rear-wheel
drive, air-cooled four-cylinder boxer engine. It cost
5,600 RM and accommodated five passengers in its extensively
streamlined four-door body, which provided luggage storage under the
front bonnet and behind the rear seats. It also featured a similar
central structural tunnel found in the Beetle.
Just before the start of the Second World War, Tatra had ten legal
claims filed against VW for infringement of patents. Although
Ferdinand Porsche was about to pay a settlement to Tatra, he was
stopped by Hitler who said he would "solve his problem". Tatra
launched a lawsuit, but this was stopped when
Czechoslovakia in 1938, resulting in the Tatra factory coming under
Nazi administration in October 1938. The T97, along with the T57,
were ordered by Hitler to be removed from the Tatra display at the
1939 Berlin Autosalon and Tatra was later directed to concentrate
on heavy trucks and diesel engines, with all car models, except for
the V8-engined Tatra T87, being discontinued. The matter was
World War II
World War II and in 1965
Ringhoffer-Tatra 1,000,000 Deutsche Marks in an out of court
Introduction to international markets
Main article: History of
Volkswagen in Ireland
Volkswagen began its involvement in Ireland when in 1949, Motor
Distributors Limited, founded by Stephen O'Flaherty secured the
franchise for the country at that year’s Paris Motor Show.
Volkswagen Beetles started arriving into
Dublin packed in
crates in what was termed "completely knocked down" (CKD) form ready
to be assembled. The vehicles were assembled in a former tram depot at
Shelbourne Road in Ballsbridge. This is now the premises for
Ballsbridge Motors which is still a
Volkswagen dealer. The first
Volkswagen ever assembled outside
Germany was built here. This
vehicle is now on display at the
Volkswagen Museum in Wolfsburg.
In 1952, John Colborne-Baber began to import small numbers of Beetles
largely to satisfy demand from US Air Force personnel stationed in
Kent. Today, Colborne Garages still hold the
Guildford and Walton-on-Thames. In 1953 J.Gilder & Co. Ltd. in
Sheffield, began selling Beetles. Jack Gilder had been fascinated by
both the design and engineering of the
Beetle when he came across one
in Belgium during the war. He applied for the
franchise as soon as the opportunity presented itself and became
Volkswagen's representative in the North of England. In 2013 the
Gilder Group was acquired by JCT600.
The Type 1 was introduced to Japan in 1953, and was imported by Yanase
dealerships in Japan. Its exterior dimensions and engine displacement
were in compliance with Japanese Government regulations, which helped
sales. Several Japanese vehicles were introduced after the
sold in Japan, using an air-cooled engine and rear mounting of the
engine, such as the Subaru 360, or an engine installed in the front,
Honda N360, the Suzuki Fronte, and the Mitsubishi Minica.
Nguyen Hoang Hiep, vice chairman of the National Traffic Safety
Committee, reported in 2014 that there were 2.1 million vehicles
registered in Vietnam.
Volkswagen vehicles have been sold in
Vietnam through World Auto since 2007 with an average of 100 units
sold each year.
German production of the
Beetle took place initially at the parent
Wolfsburg plant until the Golf's introduction in 1974, later expanding
to the newer
Hanover plants. Volkswagen's takeover of Auto
Union in 1964 saw 60,000 cars per year being produced on the Audi
assembly lines in
Ingolstadt until 1971. The last German made cars
were assembled at
Emden in 1978, after which the Puebla, Mexico plant
became the principal source of
Beetle production. Other countries
produced Beetles from CKD (complete knockdown kits): Ireland,
Thailand, Indonesia, South Africa, Australia, Yugoslavia (city of
Sarajevo), and Nigeria have assembled Beetles under license from
Beetles produced in Mexico and Brazil had several differences:
1969 Brazilian 1300 Sedan (Fusca)
Brazilian assembly of the Beetle, where it is called "Fusca", started
in 1953, with parts imported from Germany. By January 1959 the cars
were built in the new
São Bernardo do Campo
São Bernardo do Campo plant, although they
originally had 60% German parts content. By the mid-sixties, the
cars had 99.93% Brazilian parts content, with four German parts of a
combined value of about one US dollar still being imported.
Production continued until 1986. In 1993 production resumed and
continued to 1996. The Brazilian version retained the 1958–64 body
style (Europe and U.S. version) with the thick door pillars and
smaller side windows. This body style was also produced in Mexico
until 1971. Around 1973, all Brazilian Beetles (1300 and 1500 series)
were updated with the 1968-up sheet metal, bumpers, and four-lug rims;
although the five-stud rims and "bugeye" headlights were produced as
late as 1972 (the base VW 1200 and 1300 manufactured in Brazil was
similar to the 1964 European/U.S. 1200 until the 1970 model year but
came with vented wheels since the mid-1960s). The 1971 and 1972 1300s
had the 1964-era taillights and headlights, fuel tank, but fitted with
the 1968-up raised bumpers. Brazilian CKD kits were shipped to Nigeria
between 1975 and 1987 where Beetles were locally assembled. The
Brazilian-produced versions have been sold in neighboring South
American nations bordering Brazil, including Argentina, Uruguay, and
The Brazilian Type 1s have four different engines: 1,200 cc,
1,300 cc, 1,500 cc, and 1,600 cc. In the 1970s,
Volkswagen made the SP-2 (derived from the Type 1 pan and the Type 3
powertrain) with a 1,700 cc engine (a bored-out 1,600 cc).
In Brazil, the Type 1 never received electronic fuel injection,
instead retaining carburetors (one or two one-barrels) throughout its
entire life, although the carburetion differs from engines of
different years and specification.
The production of the air-cooled engine finally ended in 2006, after
more than 60 years. It was last used in the Brazilian version of the
VW Bus, called the "Kombi", and was replaced by a 1.4 L
water-cooled engine with a front-mounted cooling system.
Brasil engaged in some string pulling in the early sixties when a law
requiring taxis to have four doors and five seats was being
considered. After proving that the average taxi fare only carried 1.8
passengers and an overall saving of twenty percent for a smaller
two-door car, the Brazilian government relented and the law never
entered the books. The Fusca proceeded to have a long career as a
taxi in urban Brazil.
Volkswagen Type 1 chassis was used as the basis for a
mine-protected APC called the
Leopard security vehicle
Leopard security vehicle and the Pookie
demining vehicle, fielded by the Republic of Rhodesia during the
Rhodesian Bush War.
Volkswagen Beetle, the last model with chrome moldings.
In the picture, the 1995 Jeans Limited Edition.
The very last
Beetle produced, manufactured in Puebla,
Mexico, July 30, 2003.
Beetle in Mexico
Mexican production began in 1955 because of agreements with companies
Chrysler in Mexico and the Studebaker-Packard Corporation
which assembled cars imported in CKD form. In 1964, they began to be
locally produced. These models have the larger windshield, rear
window, door and quarter glass starting in 1972; and the rear window
from 1965 to 1971 German built models was used on the Mexican models
from 1972 to 1985, when it was replaced with the larger rear window
used on 1972 and later German built Beetles. This version, after the
mid-1970s, saw little change with the incorporation of electronic
ignition in 1988, an anti-theft alarm system in 1990, a catalytic
converter in 1991 (as required by law), as well as electronic Digifant
fuel injection, hydraulic valve lifters, and a spin-on oil filter in
1993. The front turn signals were located in the bumper instead of the
Beetle's traditional placement on top of the front fenders from the
1977 model year on, as they had been on German Beetles sold in Europe
from 1975 onwards. Starting in 1995, the Mexican
Beetle included front
disc brakes, an alternator instead of a generator, and front automatic
seat belts. During the 1995 model year, the chrome moldings
disappeared leaving body colored bumpers and black moldings instead on
some models. By the start of the 1996 model year, exterior chrome or
matt moldings were dropped altogether and
Volkswagen de Mexico (VWdM)
dropped the Sedan's flow-through ventilation system with all its
fittings, notably the exterior crescent-shaped vents behind the rear
side windows the same year.
In mid-1996, front drum brakes and fixed front seat belts were
re-launched in a new budget version called the "
City", which was sold alongside the upscale version "
Clásico" which had front disc brakes, automatic seat belts, right
side mirror, velour upholstery, optional metallic colors and wheel
covers in matte finish (also found on some 1980s Beetles and Buses).
These two versions were sold until mid 1998. From mid 1998–2003, The
Sedán Clásico was discontinued and the Sedán City lost its prefix
and gained disc brakes, automatic seat belts and optional metallic
colors. This last version was named the "
Volkswagen Sedán Unificado"
or simply the "
Beetle decorated in the Huichol style of beading now on display at
Museo de Arte Popular
Museo de Arte Popular in Mexico City
Independent importers continued to supply several major countries,
including Germany, France, and the UK until the end of production in
2003. Devoted fans of the car even discovered a way to circumvent US
safety regulations by placing more recently manufactured Mexican
Beetles on the floorpans of earlier, US-registered cars. The Mexican
Beetle (along with its Brazilian counterpart) was on the US DOT's
(Department of Transportation) hot list of grey market imports after
1978 as the vehicle did not meet safety regulations.
In the Southwest US (Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas), Mexican
Beetles (and some Brazilian T2c Transporters) are a fairly common
sight since Mexican nationals can legally operate the vehicle in the
United States, provided the cars remain registered in Mexico. Some of
the Mexican Beetles have been registered in the United States since
the 1998 NHTSA amendment granting the 25-year cutoff where it (and its
Brazilian counterpart including the T2C) can be legally registered in
any of the 50 states (this means a 1992 or earlier Mexican
of 2017 can be registered under the current NHTSA 25-year cutoff
The end of production in Mexico can be attributed primarily to Mexican
political measures: the Beetles no longer met emission standards for
Mexico City, in which the ubiquitous Beetles were used as taxicabs;
and the government outlawed their use as taxicabs because of rising
crime rates, requiring only four-door vehicles be used. The last Vocho
taxis in Mexico City were retired at the end of 2012. In addition,
Volkswagen (now Germany's largest automaker) has been attempting to
cultivate a more upscale, premium brand image, and the humble Beetle
clashed with this identity, as seen in the Touareg and Passat luxury
vehicles. In the late 1990s consumers strongly preferred more modern
cars such as the Mexican Chevy, the Nissan Tsuru, and the Volkswagen
Pointer and Lupo.
However, demand for the
Beetle was relatively high, especially in the
1990s, with the workforce increasing at the start of the decade. The
price of the base model (without even a radio) was pegged with the
official minimum wage, by an agreement between the company and the
government. In 1990 it cost US$5,300.
Official importation of the
Australia began in
1953, with local assembly operations commencing the following year.
Australia was formed in 1957, and by 1960 locally produced
body panels were being used for the first time. When the European Type
One body received the larger windows for the 1965 model year,
Australia decided not to update, but continued to produce
the smaller-windowed bodies, with unique features to the Australian
versions. This was due to the limited size of the market and the costs
involved in retooling. Australian content had reached almost 95% by
this time. The Australian subsidiary continued to produce the
earlier body style until 1967, when declining sales forced a switch to
CKD assembly using imported components the following year. In 1968,
Australia released its own locally designed utilitarian
version of the Type 1, the
Volkswagen Country Buggy or Type 197.
The last Australian-assembled
Beetle was produced in July 1976 with
assembly of other models ending in February 1977. All Volkswagens
for the Australian market have been fully imported since then.
Beetle was also produced in South Africa at the
from 31 August 1951 to 1979. Several features from the Super Beetle
were grafted onto the South African
Beetle 1600S, such as curved
windshield, new dashboard, and larger taillights, while retaining the
Beetle chassis and mechanicals. The 1600 model was introduced to South
Africa in 1972; it was marketed as the cheapest 1.6-liter car
available there. In late 1976, the sporty SP 1600
Beetle arrived –
this version received bright red, yellow, or silver paint with black
stripes, a front spoiler, wide tyres, and a more powerful engine with
twin carburettors and a freer flowing exhaust. The interior was
also sporty, with red tartan upholstery, a small steering wheel, and
lots of matte black. Power crept up to 43 kW (58 PS;
58 hp), from 50 PS. Also new for 1977 were rubber bumper
strips for all 1600s, and the same taillights with backup lights were
now fitted across the range.
The bigger-engined model was then phased out around August 1978,
leaving only the 1300 model in production.
Beetle has been modified for use in drag racing; its rearward
(RR layout) weight distribution keeps the weight over the rear wheels,
maximizing grip off the starting line. The car's weight is reduced for
a full competition drag Beetle, further improving the grip and also
the power-to-weight ratio. Combined with the Beetle's RR layout,
wheelies can be achieved easily, but time "in the air" worsens 1/4
mile time. To prevent this, "wheelie bars" were added. A notable
version, campaigned in the USA was the EMPI Inch Pincher.
Beetle is also used as the basis for the
Formula Vee open-wheel
racing category: specifically, the front suspension crossmember
assembly (the shock absorber mounts are sometimes removed, depending
on regulations in the class), and the engine and transaxle assembly
(usually the earlier swing-axle type, not the later double-jointed
axle). In original 1,200 cc
Formula Vee spec, upgrades to the
cars would only be allowed sparsely, so that the wheels, tires and
engines didn't differ very much from the original Beetle. At the end
of the 1960s, Vee
Beetle engine output on a single carburetor would
reach up to 70 BHP; top speeds would gradually rise to nearly
200 km/h (124 mph). In this configuration, FV would become
one of the most popular entry-level motorsports classes of its time.
Later on, double carbs and more extensive modification would be
allowed, leading to the more powerful Super Vee class featuring wings
for downforce and 123 bhp (92 kW; 125 PS) engines,
which in the end had fairly little in common with the original VW
Beetle. Around 2000, worldwide Vee racing had re-established itself as
a 1,200/1,300 cc beginner class with wingless cars and VW engines
outputting about 60 bhp (45 kW; 61 PS), but
incorporating more modern chassis and tyres.
Uniroyal Fun Cup
Volkswagen Beetle-style bodies are fitted to space frame racing
chassis, and are used in the Uniroyal Fun Cup, which includes the
longest continuous motor-race in the world, the 25 Hours of Spa. It is
an affordable entry-level series that gentleman drivers race.
Rally and Rallycross
Especially the Austrian sole distributor Porsche Salzburg (now Porsche
Austria) seriously entered the
Volkswagen in local and European
contests in the 1960s and early 1970s. Starting with the VW 1500, in
the mid-1960s the peak of their racing performance was achieved with
the VW 1302S and VW 1303S (known as the Salzburg Rally Beetle) from
1971 to 1973. The vehicles were entered in such famous races as TAP
(Portugal), Austrian Alpine, Elba, Acropolis etc. Drivers were top
performers such as
Tony Fall (GB), Guenter Janger (AUT), Harry
Achim Warmbold (D), Franz Wurz (A), etc. The engines
were highly modified 1600's delivering 125 hp (93 kW), later
on mated to a
Porsche 914 five-speed manual gearbox. Victories were
achieved in 1973 on Elba for overall and class, Acropolis for class
(5th overall), Austrian championship 1972, 1973 January Rallye for
overall and class. Rally of 1000 minutes for overall 2nd (1st in
The fuel crisis, along with the arrival of the
(Rabbit), put an end to the days of unofficially supported rallying in
1974. All vehicles either used for training or actual racing were sold
off to privateers, many kept racing with noticeable results until the
Ever since folkrace was created, the
Beetle was always a go-to car
because of it's rear engine and rear-wheel drive giving the car a lot
of grip on the loose surfaces. It is still to this day one of the most
frequently used cars in the sport. People usually remove the cooling
systems for the engine to get more power, resulting in the engines
getting very hot and occasionally catching fire, however it luckily
doesn't happen often.
Trans Am Series
Beetles were used in The
Trans-Am Series for the two-litre class from
1966 to 1967 and again in 1972.
Volkswagen won its class in the
Armstrong 500 in
Australia in both
1962 and 1963.
Baja Bug-style modified Beetle
Baja 1000 off-road race in the Baja California Peninsula, Mexico
includes specific vehicle classes for both standard Beetles and Baja
Bugs. These can be seen in the documentary movie Dust to Glory.
The classes are as follows :
Class 5: Unlimited Baja Bugs
Class 5-1600: 1,600 cc Baja Bugs
Class 11: Stock VW Sedans
Beetle Challenge is a UK-based circuit racing championship for
Volkswagen Beetles. The general concept is to take
any Beetle, of any age or model from the 40s through to 1303s, and
with minimal restrictions, allowing parts from various years to be
interchanged, and of course the cars being prepared to the MSA safety
requirements (cage, restraints, fire system etc.) Essentially the cars
must be air-cooled Beetles (any age and parts can be swapped between
years and models), with a 15-inch x 6-inch max wheel size with a
control tyre. Engines must be based on a Type 1 engine case, with no
electronic fuel injection or ignition and no forced induction, with an
unlimited capacity. Other regulations apply.
1940 KDF-wagen (
Volkswagen Beetle) tin-plate toy, by the Nuremberg
toymaker Georg Fischer, displayed in the Museum der Arbeit, Hamburg,
List of names for the
Volkswagen Type 1
Vienna University of Technology
Vienna University of Technology awarded Porsche an honorary
doctorate as "Doktor Ingenieur Honoris Causa" in 1916.
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