CC Capsule: Air-Cooled Volkswagens I Have Recently Known

Even though air-cooled Volkswagens are hardly common in Indiana anymore, they’re still not exactly rare. I don’t keep track in my head of all the old cars I find; it wasn’t until I looked through my photos recently that I found that I’ve seen four air-cooled VWs recently. The first was this Thing. You never know just what will show up on my mechanic’s lot in Carmel, and one day when my Passat needed a brake job this Thing was there.

I believe this to be the first Thing I’ve ever seen up close. I was a car-crazy boy of six and seven years old when VW sold these in the US, so you’d think I’d encountered them in parking lots or curbside somewhere along the way. But nope. I was surprised by how Spartan the interior of this Thing was, even by VW standards of the time. Too bad my interior shots didn’t turn out, or I’d show you.

On a visit to the charming Ohio River town of Madison, I came upon this Beetle on a side street in the historic district. It has the cool steel sunroof option. It’s an odd color, though. And those wheels and tires look all wrong, although I’m sure the owner put them on to be able to use easier-to-source modern tires.

As best I can tell, this Beetle was made between 1973 and 1975. Can you pinpoint the date more closely from the visual clues?

I found this Super Beetle in a gravel parking lot on the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette. It looks like an all-original survivor.

This one’s a ’74 – it has a vintage 1974 license plate on it in Indiana’s Authentic Model Year License Plate program.

I made an interior photo of this one. I don’t usually do that anymore as I’ve never felt entirely comfortable being that close to someone’s car lest I encounter an owner who might feel threatened. Anyway, everything looks to be in pretty good shape given the car’s age.

Finally, this bright yellow Bus was parked for months in front of a salon in downtown Zionsville. This cheerful Type 2 looks to have been restored. I love it that at least externally the restoration appears to be faithful.

When I was a kid, a close friend’s mom had a white-over-blue Bus of this vintage. I loved riding in it – in the 70s, this was an unusually tall vehicle with commanding visibility. I’d love to pilot one around town just once, to see what the driving experience is like.