There’s still a healthy number of Beetles in front-line duty here; in fact the number continues to surprise me, as it seems to be going up, not down. This one caught my eye, because…well, I could see my twenty year-old self driving it. It’s got some very purposeful wider wheels, but they’re still sporting authentic hub caps. There’s just a bit of suspension lift so that tackling fire roads and mild Jeep trails would be a bit less worrying. Its got a jaunty attitude, ready to take on any adventure, even if only with one exhaust tip. And it’s showing some honest wear and tear. My kind of VW indeed.
Just need to ditch that silly bra. I’ve pegged this a ’69, because it obviously has the double-jointed rear suspension, given the lack of any camber change. And the ’70 had additional louvers on the rear engine lid. But this front bumper with its integrated turn signal isn’t stock, and the stock turn signal in the fenders have disappeared. Minor quibble if not quite to my liking.
That mild rear suspension lift gives it just a bit of rake. I once called the ’66 VW 1300 the best of the bunch, but I should have said “sportiest”, given it’s rev-happier engine and tight gearing. So which is the best year for the Beetle? Now that’s a hard one to answer.
A request to you VW fans: I’m looking for someone with a pre-1971 VW Beetle Owner’s Manual. I would just need a scan of one page. Let me know if you can provide that.
http://www.vw-kaeferclub.com/downloads/betriebsanleitung_vw_kaefer_1200.pdf what about this?
Thanks; English would be preferred, but yes, that will do.
I will let others more informed on the topic than me sound off about Peak VW. I will only say that I really like those ultra-balloon tires on it. Softest riding VW ever?
I agree with the common sentiment that 1967 was peak VW. First year of 12-volt electrics, last year of the beautiful old body without safety reg mandated bumpers, high back seats, padded dash, etc. Engine also went to 1500 cc that year. Loved my 66 but the headlights were as bright as birthday candles.
“Clean, bright and tight.” After rewiring my ’64, I found the headlights quite acceptable, if not blindingly bright. Certainly brighter than the headlights on our Gen 3 Grand Caravan after the plastic lenses had fogged with age.
The headlight visors make it look like it is about to fall asleep. 🙂 Perhaps the black thing is a sinus mask.
Also, I’m not a fan of those “eyebrows” which are on so many old Type 1s and 2s around here. Too cutesy for my taste.
I think I will just keep on agreeing with you that my 66 was the best year. I really think that a baja kit and agree that a switch to 12v electrics would be an improvement. IIRC there were engine problems with the models from 67 till whatever year they came out with the 1600. Hot rodding which had become rampant with these cars played a part in it. It involved going bigger without changing whatever it took to keep from pulling studs. Perhaps metallurgy or perhaps a change to the studs themselves.
At any rate this car falls into the area that I would want a change to 1600 power. I would prefer the 1300 of the 66. It doesn’t hurt that in my 23 year old world that was my first new car.
67 until late 72 or 73, especially in hot climates or in buses, the 10mm studs would loosen and sometimes pull out from the case, stripping out the threads in the case. A popping sound was common when the heads came loose. ‘Case savers’ were a common repair, it involved drilling out the case and installing inserts that would take an 8 mm stud. These would stretch instead of pulling the threads out of the case. The replacement cases from VW later came with the 8mm studs and also were a stronger alloy. This cured the problem, and you could build some pretty powerful engines and they would stay tight. The 66 1300 seemed to be ok, probably because of the thicker cylinders.
I had a 63 Beetle which was my sweetheart, but it was crunched by a Chrysler Cordoba going 65 mph in a residential neighborhood . The driver of the Cordoba was joy riding with his buddies in his dad’s business car without permission. Things went from bad to worse when he was being chased by the cops for running a light. He came around a corner, lost control of the Cordoba and smashed my 63 beetle.
I replaced it with a 69 Beetle in the same slime green color featured in this article. It was the worse car I ever owned!! Engine blew and it cost all my HS graduation money to get it repaired. The rest of the car was a joke.
The early Beetles (6 volt) are the best. They make me smile when ever I see one!!
The best year was 1968! The first year of the more modern headlights; one-piece wheels (vs 2); a separate fuel filler; ‘upgraded’ but still quaint interior (except for the US-mandated black dashboard pad–ours was a Euro spec).
68, 69, 70, 71, 67, 66, 65, 64, 63, 72, 62, 73, 61, 74, 60.
In the US, ’67 was first year of modern headlights. I had a Euro spec ’67 1500, It still had 6v electrics and the older headlights, but the larger diameter generator and flywheel, a real oddball in the US.
What do you mean by two-piece wheels? The safety lip wheels for tubeless tires wernt introduced in the US market until mid-year ’68. My Euro-spec ’67 also had front disk brakes with single circuit hydraulics and four bolt non-saftey rims. I ran tube type Pirelli Cinturato tires.
First one I have seen with a single exhaust.
Probably just a rusted off tailpipe. Fairly common failure.
Paul, try The Samba site. THE mother lode of vintage VW stuff…..
Doh! Of course; been there many times.Perfect.
Back in the 60’s everyone either had one of these or knew of someone who had one. One good friend had a ’60 with no fuel gage. There was this lever that opened up a small reserve tank when the main one went dry. I would just close my eyes when he would take it up to 75 (top speed) on the Baltimore Beltway and hold it there. 75 in a Beetle seemed like 125 in any other car. Another friend’s mother had a ’69 with the Automatic Stickshift. Not only was it incredibly slow, but just touching the stick at speed would instantly disengage the transmission, a really weird sensation. The ’69 also had some of the dealer installed extras that became popular, such as fluted tail pipes and wood grained dash. IIRC, both were stone cold reliable, never failing to start and never leaving us stranded.
A good friend of mine had a ’61 VW which also had the reserve tank instead of a fuel gauge. In the six years that he drove it I can’t ever remember it being an issue, one simply kept track of miles driven and fueled accordingly. I don’t believe that Rick’s ’61 would make it to 75 mph, about 71-72 seemed to be the limit. It was weird riding in a car at its absolute top speed; when going up hills you could feel the car gradually slowing down until the downshift to 3rd was needed to maintain headway. Fortunately most of the roads around our hometown were flat or only had a slight rise. Rick finally had to retire the VW (in the spring of 1973) when it became so rusty that it was no longer safe to drive.
That VW would be worth a lot of money if it was fully restored as an antique.
I had a ’69 my first two years of college. It was the worst and most reliable car I ever paid $300 for. The rot in the floors was so bad that the passenger seat started to fall out and to use the heat was suicide. We had fun in that car.
You just reminded me of the 70 model that I owned. I was forced to fix the floor behind the drivers seat because my son started learning how to move his car seat.
Nice looking Beetle that really needs to lose the bra. Seeing the snowboard rack on the roof has me picturing this car sounding like an German weedwhacker as it goes up Mount Hood.
I already have what I consider to be the best years, a ’62 sunroof and ’63 sedan. Just need to put ’em back together! The ’62 will have an old school hot rod 1200 engine (1385cc).
Volkswagen took a lot of metal out of beetles over the years ovals make better Baja Bugs due to thicker steel in the roof so the lore goes so peak VW performance likely ties in with lightest bodyshell and largest capacity, 12 volts was certainly a vast improvement as far as starting ability goes and lighting, Id hazard a guess the 1500/1600 beetle is the peak right near the end when VW had to really try for sales.
I would say 71-73 std Beetle is the best of the bunch. 1600 dual port, irs, doghouse oil cooler. 73 has the safety advantage of 3 point improved seat mounting and steel beams in doors, and inertia seatbelts. If you prefer the older bodystyle (pre-68) and swing axles, 67 would be the one to get. First year 12 volt, 1500 cc engine and wider and decambered rear axle for better handling. If you were not concerned with originality, a 67 body on a 73 floorpan with 73 seats, doors, belts, steering column and wheel would be a good way to go. I agree with Paul on the turn signals in the bumpers like the Mexican Beetles had, the top of fender mounted lamps are a lot easier to see.
+ 1 on that bra needing to be in the dump. Either wear the battle scars with pride, or repaint it and get the clear vinyl overlay to protect the new finish.
I like the fattie tires. Granted, you could go full monty with a Baja kit, but this is kinda cool as is. Looks like those wheels are a lot wider and have more offset than stockers. Could they be Porsche steelies?
i’d say they were aftermarket wheels.
A 69 Beetle was my first new car. I don’t have the manual but I still have the sales receipt and an early, poor quality photo – below. In July 1969 I traded in a 63 for one of the last of the 69’s. Thought some of the many younger readers would be interested in how inexpensive these cars were back in the day. And as Paul has previously noted, the standard US versions were pretty nicely equipped (first car I ever had with an electric rear window defogger and it worked well).
The car also had an AM radio, black leatherette, and ww tires. No sunroof, the one other option I’d like to have had.
Although the 69 was way more modern than the 60 and 63 Beetles I previously owned, the quality didn’t seem to be very good and the car was constantly in the dealership for repairs from the first week onward: bad throwout bearing, defective radio, premature rusting of the wheels, failure to start in damp weather (remember folks putting foil over the louvers during rainy weather?), etc. OTOH, the 53 HP engine was a big improvement, the heater/defroster was stronger, the rear suspension was great, and the black leatherette interior was attractive and durable (some of the small plastic bits were not and soon broke). I think the quality concerns would have been more bearable if the dealership had been better but the high reputation for good service early VW dealers had in the 50’s and early 60’s was beginning to diminish by the time this car was purchased.
Forgot to attach the image:
Cool image. About $400 more then the 66 my Dad bought new. It had optional pop out windows, but no radio.
About $100 less than the ‘Rents paid for a new 69 Bug at about the same time of year. Unplanned purchase due to the transmission failing in the ’63 they had. They picked the one on the lot that had cloth seats. Painted a sky blue that I loathed as a child, and loathed again when my mom had it repainted the same color. In a nice CC-effect coincidence, they had a loaner from the dealer for a couple of days that was the exact same green as the subject car.
Ours was stone-axe reliable though. Stayed in the family into the mid-90s.
Interesting as you said no sunroof but the invoice clearly shows you bought a Model # 117 , that being the DeLuxe Left Hand Drive Sun Shine roof model .
I remember Auto World, the North side VW dealer! IIRC, they came along well after Evans Motors which was on the south side.
Yes, Auto World was a fairly new dealership at the time and I was living on the north side of downtown FW so it was much closer. Evans Motors, much older, was the first VW dealership in the area and they serviced my first VW. I should have stayed with them as I think their service department was far better. I assume they’re both gone today?
Nate, I think you might be looking at the number on the lower left which represents the trade-in (63)? Though it too did not have a sunroof. The picture is obscuring the model designation for the new car which is 1131.Does the form remind you of typewriters? And it’s a carbon copy.
Wanted one in school until a friend bought a very nice ’61 and let me drive it some. Never considered a VW Bug after that. Ever. Not a hater, the car just was not for me. Did like working on them though.
Every few years I get nostalgic about them and start daydreaming about getting one.
Then I drive one. Cures me every time. But that rattly “thonk” noise when you slip your foot off the brake pedal and it hits the stop as you pull away from a standstill will stay with me to the day I die. I more or less learned how to drive in one, and my parents had one from as early as I can remember until long after I moved out.
I have an original ’64 owners manual, but it is missing the cover. What page did you want Paul?
Thanks; already got what I was looking for from the samba.com site. They have almost every year manual online.
If you’re out there, help me find my 914! A 1.7/1.8 is fine, yes it’s a VW, but very 356 like. 5k is my limit for purchase, with a budget of 4k for “upgrades.” I know my valve adjustments, proper shifting RPM, etc. Bosch x tronic scares me, especially that weird fuel distributor and electronics. I do know carbs from my CB750 Honda. You’re right, all four always stayed perfectly synchronized.
Yes , I am always here , don’t always have time to keep current on my E-mails etc.
I have no idea where to find you a 914 , too bad as I dumped mine @ scrap value when I tired of it after my brother drove it a year and beat the crap out of it .
Then I found a nice rust free one sitting in some guy’s back yard , a ’75 2 Liter he’d bought and installed a rebuilt engine for but got lost in trying to connect the wires etc. ~ asking $500 .
Who know they’d _ever_ be popular ? .
I have dozens of VW owners booklets taken out of VW’s we scrapped during the glory dayze , what year and what page does Paul want ? .
One of these days I’ll post ’em up on Flea-Bay one by one and see if I can make a few $ off them .
Is the 1968 version of the ” Bible ” worth anything these days ? .
” Carburetor ” is a *French* word meaning : LEAVE IT ALONE ! .
(they never do though)
Wide/fat tires on VW’s make them unpleasant to drive and eats up ball joints , rear wheel bearings and steering boxes at a rapid clip .
Kept me in good $ for DECADES though ! I think the $150 spent on a VW ball joint tool was the best dollar I ever spend on any tool .
Thank you for that. I always thought that “carburetor” was French for a controlled gas leak.
thanks again Nate, you are a treasure trove of info.
Going to look at a 914 the Sat., owner wants only $8k, geeze. At least they won’t depreciate. He swears I could fly in and drive home (probably via Hertz.)
Funnier things have happened: as a teen in the mid eighties, the one car I would have refused to drive was the Pinto. I could have cared less about fires in my immortal know it all mind. The reason why is I would have been the butt of everyone’s jokes and made fun of mercilessly. Now Pintos are a cult car, always getting attention at car shows. Their asking prices are creeping up.
More like worthless trivia no one cares about anymore….. =8-) .
Quick Q. : what made the 1953 M.Y. ‘ Zwitter ‘ headlight switch different ? .
I remember the Self-Service Junkyards having lots and lots of dead 914’s , many with very little rust at all ~ they only ever sold one I can remember , for $600 in the early 1990’s , they were shocked when they guy woke it up and _drove_ it out .
For ease of operation the 1.8 Liter models all had Bosch K Jetronic F.I. , it was air flow controlled and never had much troubles and is dead easy to tweak for vastly increased power with no drop in fuel economy , thanx to the simple air box design , it shared this with the F.I. Beetles and many other vehicles then .
Be sure to come back and show off whatever you find ! .
$8K ~ ouch , I’d put it up on a hoist first , remove the seats , unload the entire trunk front & rear (beware of crosswise rear trunk rust out along the seam) , maybe even open the fuel pump compartment as they all rust from the inside out so bubbles in the paint are always serious .
FWIW , Typ IV engines all need the timing set @ 3,000 RPM’s with all hoses connected . 27° ~ 32° BTDC .
I’m a unrepentant fan of worthless trivia, as I’ve demonstrated what little trivia I possess, is worthless!
At least the rear suspension introduced in ’68 (Autostick) and ’69 on the rest made the cars much more stable with wide tires due to minimal camber changes. The double rear axle bearings, one ball thrust and a separate roller for vertical loads, cured that issue. However, wide tires on the front still caused issues, most notably the outer bearing.
No it didn’t ~ any Journeyman VW Mechanic changed out slews of those PIA bearings during the dayze when stupid wide wheels were often added on .
VW made 5″ rims you could spoon sticky rubber onto if you were track oriented , no need for those deep dish things unless you were bound for the Sugar Sand with smooth tires .
CLARIFICATION : it made them more stable but didn’t stop rear wheel Brg. failures .
You VW Guys would prolly love my son’s early Manx Dune Buggy ~ he always wanted one and of course , found one languishing in a back yard just I said he would , it’s decent , no cherry , he added a twin port and a turbo charger then went drag racing ~ it hauls @$$ .
I gave him my old Typ II Panel Truck and it has a brandy new (less than 10,000 Miles) Mexican Twin Port 1600(that’s the European Spec. one with all the nice up grades and low compression) ~as no one cared about a new engine he yanked it , stuffed it into the Manx , turned up the boost to 18 # (I know , I know) and went out ans shamed some GTO’s , Mustangs etc. all of which had HUGE V-8’s but nowhere near the power to weight ratio he enjoys .
He said the announcer went bananas as he blew them into the weeds .
He also blew out the intake manifold to cylinder head gaskets but we replaced those in 20 minutes whilst chatting over Coffee =8-) .
Me , I like the older , swing axle , 36 HP Beetles just fine .
Nate, already got what I was looking for. Thanks.
OBTW : a few here might remember the first year , 1969 Sandcast Honda CB750’s had a terrible carby linkage that used multiple throttle cables that occasionally _did_ pull un-equally making your multple carbys go out of adjustment….
I learned to drive a stick in a ’69 VW. Riviera Volkswagen in Manhattan Beach, CA loaned a white one with dual pedal controls to my high school (Redondo) for driver training.
Best year? Mechanically, I like 1971 due to the introduction of the dual port engine with “doghouse” oil cooler and improved clutch release bearing design. The problem with later ones was the difficulty in getting emission controls to work without drivability issues. This plagued US cars as well, but air cooled engines worse. VW still managed to accomplish this without the nightmare vacuum hose mess that the Japanese and Americans used. My ’71 Chevy had time delay relays and other mysterious stuff.
Atheistically, pre-1965 cars look better with smaller glass area, smooth wheels and large hubcaps. Those earlier bodies may be what some have referred to as having thicker steel.
The ” best ” M.Y. VW Beetle , will be the one you built out of bits & bobs , cherry picking as you go along….
In The Trade they’re called ” BITSAS ” as they’re made from bits of this and bits of that ~ low resale value but priceless to the VW Owner/Enthusiast who knows what they desire .
I will heartily agree with this…because my beloved Gertrude was one. She was mostly a ’63. Mostly. Had front fenders from a ’62, front trunk lid from a ’61 (Wolfsburg crest, bay-bee!), scavenged a wiper-switch and several different headlight switches from junkers of various years at Austin VeeDub, lots of the little trim pieces, an actual 6Volt radio, etc.
Basically built her from the ground up, new wiring harness, back seat replaced with custom-built carpet-covered rear box for stereo speakers (12v inverter tied to an amp w/EQ I could plug my Walkman into) and my two big dogs. Repaired the floor pan under the battery with old license plates, rivets, and roofing cement.
Had nice skinny Pirellis on the wheels, and they were aired to the factory pressure (19 lbs front, forget what the back was). WIth the fronts at 19 lbs, she drove perfectly.
One late night drive out into the Hill Country, she started running a bit rough. Limped her 30 miles back to the house in second gear to discover the crankshaft had broken in the middle, due to the moron who had her before me intsalling oversized Ps & Cs. But she actually DROVE with a broken crank.
Rebuilt the the stock 40-horse motor as STOCK, drove her for over seven more years (and 75k miles) before the #3 exhaust valve would no longer adjust. Got as much as 32 mpg up til then.
Parked her “until I can can work on her again” and she sat for about ten years…finally had to sell her to someone for two hunnert bucks. Sigh.
Would say I wish I had her again, but frankly, getting older and living in that blast furnace known as Austin, TX has made me appreciate the air conditioning in my ’08 Forester greatly. If I lived in more temperate climes? You bet. I’d love to have another Gertrude if I lived where it never got above about, oh, 85 degrees.
I feel your pain Beebs ~ @ 240 # +/- I like the AC too .
Even thought I’m driving my Avatar car in this blasted heat right now .
The 36 HP engines often broke crankshafts , usually because some boob advanced the timing to make it ‘ peppier ‘ .
Gotta run ~ more on this after lunch with my son .
Any pro-con discussion on converting one to run on E-85?
Why, in order to get the mpg below 20?
Fuel lines are the first thing to change, as I dont trust the fabric covered ones even with E10. That means all of them, under the car as well as under the hood. Fuel pump diaphragm and the accelerator pump diaphragm are the other things that may or may not hold up. Other than that, just upsize the main and pilot jets.
I dont know if E85 has any more propensity for carb ice than E10. That would be the other concern if the stock air cleaner preheat and manifold heat riser are not working perfectly.
Since ethanol is common in Brazil, I would suspect that fuel lines, fuel pumps and carb kits made there would be of alcohol resistant materials.
Am I the only person that despises Beetles? I drove one once, and that was that. Can’t imagine driving a more miserable excuse for a car… and I’ve driven (and owned) some rolling sh*tpiles. Different strokes I guess.
You’re in good company .
They’re certainly not for everyone , most folks don’t actually like driving old cars once they’ve had a modern one .
The few ,
The proud ,
The stupid .
But , we love ’em and they sold by the millions so whatever .
Some people hate them. Some people love them with a passion. I am one of the latter.
There are cars that I despise but if that’s what someone else likes more power to them.
Mutual respect is all gearheads should give one another.
I drove a 54/55 oval with 1100cc single tail pipe motor when I was at school not mine but I had fairly unlimited access to it very slow given enough straight road it could hit 60mph eventually but you could out drive the feeble lights in town, not really much of a car but it went.
It obviously wasn’t in proper tune then ~ I drove those things for decades .
I was driving my ’53 ” Zwitter ” Beetle with a low compression ’54 engine in it & original single tip exhaust @ 85 MPH when I rolled it…..
(the [ex] Wife was not impressed , I was heartbroken)
One of the inherent beauties of all pre 1962 Beetle was : ” top speed is cruising speed ” .
Just read the owner’s manual if you doubt that .
Single tip exhaust was specifically used to reduce engine output and prevent over speeding .
My ’59 with a mystery mileage 36 hp hit 80.77 mph according to my GPS.
It may take it a while to get there but it will.
That’s one of the reasons I like it. You just put the pedal to the floor and don’t worry about it.
My very 1st car was a 62 bug . With a 40 horse, didn’t have much power when compared to my dad’s 71 Squareback. I had a newspaper route at the time which often required shutting down and restarting the engine to deliver a bunch of papers to an apartment complex. The 6 volt battery didn’t hold a charge that well, and often resulted in a dead battery . I soon learned to park on hills , and compression start the car whenever I could. I mistreated that car, being a teenager. I’d often drive it on motorcycle trails and the like. It was surprising where that car could go. I later traded it for a Datsun 510, with over twice the power, but not as much fun off road.