CC Vintage Outtake: 1970s VW Beetle in 1982


From the time I was very small I used to sit on the front stoop and watch the cars go by. By age five I could reliably tell you the make, model, and year of pretty much every American car made after about 1965. By the time I was a teenager, I’d expanded my knowledge back to about 1955. Foreign cars were another matter, if for no other reason that they were unusual during my 1970s kidhood. Except for Beetles, of course, but those were vexing because they changed so seldom. When a Beetle rolled by, I looked at windows, headlights, and tail lights, and tried to sort the car into a broad model-year bucket.

On this summer day in 1982, I was about 15. I had spooled a roll of film into an old camera I had bought, a Kodak Duaflex II, and had been out taking photos with it. I’ve even shared a photo from that roll here before: this 1967 Mustang. I wondered what would happen if I tried to photograph a moving car. So I sat on the stoop and captured this Beetle. Based on the side windows, it’s from after 1964. Could that be a curved windshield, marking this as from 1973 or later? The other details are too blurred by motion to pinpoint it any better. 1960s Beetles were thin on the ground by 1982 in the rust-prone part of the country where I lived, so I’m saying this one is from the 1970s.