So here is my one only air cooled Volkswagen story, which as usual has a bit of unique Canadian flavor to it. A few years back a co-worker of mine mentioned that he had an old Beetle sitting in his driveway that available for a good price. The year was known only as something vaguely 60s and there was a hint of a memory concerning a mechanical issue that took it off the road a couple decades ago. There was also mutterings that engine had been rebuilt as well. It didn’t run and had been off the road for years but most of my vehicle purchases don’t come home under their own power so that was no big deterrent. Besides I had not yet owned a German car, rear engined vehicle, nor a flat four cylinder engine, so this nailed three things off my ownership checklist.
The checklist is more of an ownership ideology and consists of trying to own as much automotive variety as possible while living within a small budget. So cars of different types, from different countries, drive wheels, engine types, etc are desirable. So for example a Beetle would be a classic and economy car from German/Europe with rear wheel drive and flat four cylinder engine mounted at the rear. Up until this point I’d owned at least one of the following: V8, V6, inline six, inline four with front, rear and four wheel drive. Countries represented were United States, Japan, Britain and Korea. I’ve added a few more since but I figured the Beetle added so much variety how could I not buy it.
So predictably I did buy it with minimal research and recruited the family minivan, a rented tow dolly and a few friends into getting it home. Took a rather good shove to load it onto the tow dolly as the brakes seemed a bit stuck. By the time I got it home the brakes had freed themselves so much that only the handbrake worked. A bone dry brake cylinder will do that!
Now to examine my prize. I found the old registration and some bills which indicated it was a 1962 model. This didn’t seem to jive with research I’d done thus far. Everything seemed to say all 1962s had fuel gauges which mine did not. Instead I got a dip stick sort of thing and a reserve tank. The theory being when your engine started to starve and splutter you’d flip over to the reserve tank.
Other things were just not adding up either as my Beetle had the old style steering wheel and a lack of chrome trim. Now here comes the Canadian twist I know you have all just been dying to hear about. Further research showed that Canada had received a stripped down version of the Beetle known as the Canadian Standard. As of 1963 they changed the name from Standard to Custom as perhaps Standard sounded too downmarket. It was mildly more flashy on the outside than the European Standard model and received the “export” 40hp engine but gave Volkswagen a way to offer a lower priced version in Canada to compete with the mostly British sedans at the bottom of the market.
Exclusive features of the 1962-ish Canadian Standard are:
Small standard headliner
No chrome trim on dash or door panels
No chrome on running boards
No chrome in the window rubbers (body coloured painted vent windows trim)
No interior chrome
Deluxe body side and hood chrome
No door panel pockets
No fuel gauge but reserve tank and lever
No arm rests
Pre-1958 steering column and wheel
Small signal lever
black interior knobs
Dimmer switch on floor
Silver-beige knobs and window cranks
Current engine offerings
No door panel pockets or arm rest
T-handle deck lid
Dealer installed gas heater
The gas heater was an interesting accessory. Given that most air cooled cars don’t give off enough heat in winter to warm the cabin, Volkswagen wisely equipped it with a gas heater for Canada. It drew gasoline from the regular tank but I was never brave enough to test mine out. Another cool feature was the windshield washer pump which used air pressure from the spare tire. Great low cost engineering there although I think a manual pump like I had on my Triumph Spitfire works even better.
The U.S. style Deluxe model was also offered in Canada but the Standard/Custom seem to have represented about a quarter of Canadian sales of the 60s Bugs. As time went on they added more and more features before the practice was discontinued in the early 70s. Survivors are decently rare and they are actually quite prized these days in the air cooled circles. For the right buyer they command a modest premium over their more deluxe counterparts.
Having no garage, only a gravel parking pad, meant that a full restoration was out of the question so I proceeded to putter around fixing things up on it. First thing to do was give it a good clean. Removing several decades of dirt brought the interior back to a very decent state.
The electrics didn’t work at all even after a new six volt battery (old one had exploded, making a mess under the rear seat) so I methodically cleaned every single electrical connection and replaced any suspect looking fuses. This took a while since it was done almost solely on cold, dark winter evenings. I was rewarded with a nice, clean looking electrical system that still didn’t work. After tracing every wire again I finally tracked down a wire under the driver’s seat that was grounding its self. From what I remember it was for some sort of heating fan. With that fixed all the electrics worked just fine. Car even cranked over.
I sure wish I had a garage back then … bulky winter gloves and working on cars do not mix
A few other low buck repairs were carried out like painting all four wheels to match. Brakes were adjusted and bleed.
Next was the gross fuel system which I hoped once remedied would allow me to start the car. I pulled the tank and tried the low budget cleaning approach first. The reserve tap was cleaned up and looked serviceable. The exterior got some Simple Green, rags and manual labour while the interior was first filled with some gravel then shook vigorously. With the gravel was drained I rinsed the tank with fresh water. After a short while to dry out I filled it with new gasoline to avoid any rusting.
While I offer no warranty if anyone else uses this method it worked great on the Beetle. I added a generic fuel filter after the tank as cheap insurance but didn’t seem to be necessary. After the fluids were changed the engine fired up and ran like a champ. Brakes worked too and it drove great in first gear. After first not so much. Changing into any other gear caused it to lug and stall.
Sadly at this time the wife was getting after me for a vacation and I was a bit frustrated as I could not figure out the stalling issue so in a moment of weakness I put the car up for sale. After a flurry of interest she got her vacation and I was classic car-less for a time. The guy who bought it from me was able to determine that it was just the linkage at fault and all gears except for first were ending up selecting fourth. Live and learn, I guess but at least I’d checked off a few more items on my automotive variety checklist and left the car better off than when I received it. The new owner later shared a photo of the car showing that he had lowered the car in the way that seems to be the style for old Beetles. Seems a bit of a shame for such an original car but probably easily undone.
(originally published 11/30/2011, but it now fits into David’s current COAL Series at this point)
Fascinating. I can’t believe they were still using that very old-style spartan steering wheel that late. It looks a bit out of place. And yet it had the American style bumper over-riders that were almost never seen in Europe. Another piece of VW history filled in for me. Thanks.
And that sure makes me mighty nostalgic for my white ’63.
I grew up as a Canadian army brat, and as such moved around a lot in the early sixties,and late fifties, Northern Ontario, Southern Ontario, Quebec and a stint in Gagetown New Brunswick. It seemed no matter where we lived there was always VW’s. Canada had a huge presence in Germany at the time. I believe that the military guys just fell in love in love with the bugs. I also believe that a lot of the VeeDubs came here as stowaways.
In the late fifties we spent two years living off base in an old farmhouse, while my dad did an overseas posting in Egypt, and Cyprus. My mom, a British war bride, owned a 51 Studebaker that she had pretty well mastered, however, If she saw one snowflake, she would not even think about driving.. Living with two kids out in the middle of nowwhere,and afraid of winter driving,wasn’t working too well.
So one day in the dead of winter her friend,and fellow Brit war bride, shows up with a 57? VW..My Mom was in awe of this funny little cars ability to navigate snow. So the friend, calls her friend who just happens to be a VW salesman.
A few day later the salesman shows up with a 59, almost new VW. The saleman left driving a 51 Studebaker.
Mom drove that car all that winter, and the next one. She swears to this day, that it was the best car ever created.
We didn’t keep the VW for too long after Dad came home. I think Dad traded it in on something more his style.
So there is my Canadian VW story.
I also come from a family of military types so there where plenty of Bugs around. They’d ship them back, duty and tax free, from Germany.
Then the fun began. My family was Air Force and stationed around Baggotville, Quebec and Trenton, Ontario. The basic issue with Bugs was always that gas heater. It was devilish device. My uncle Carroll was a Master Mechanic on anything the RCAF flew but he spent more time working on the gas heater of this Bug than he did on jet engines on CF-104 aircraft. Winters in Baggotville in the 1960s were horribly harsh and driving to the base with no heat was not what anyone would want to do. Besides, when the gas heater was running, it used as much fuel as a Chevy 327. Not surprisingly, once the Bugs rusted out (which is Quebec or Ontario isn’t going to take long), they were replaced with American Iron, which cost hardly more than Bug and provided a steady heat supply. And who really cared about gas mileage at 50 cents for an Imperial gallon.
As a child, I can remember seeing people driving their Bugs around in the winter with an ice-scraper. This to scrape the ice off the INSIDE of the windshield.
A good friend had a 67 bug in northern Indiana. He was very tight with his hard earned dollars, and put up with freezing and scraping the inside of the windshield through about mid January, and finally had enough. His dad was on layoff and had a 75 Olds Custom Cruiser wagon that was not being driven. 455 V8 and 9 mpg on a good day in town. My buddy gave in started to feed the Oldsmobile. He griped about the gas cost, but said it was still a good trade.
Although it was before my time, my mother vividly remembers the South Wind Heater that the family installed in their 35 Ford sedan. They lived in northwest Ohio and it gets cold there. The South Wind unit was also a gasoline-fired heater, and it did a good job supplementing whatever the car may have had from the factory. I found a new one in a box in a thrift store one time and nearly bought it, but was a broke college student at the time and passed on it. I would imagine that it was similar in concept to the VW unit. But in a Ford V8 it probably used gas like my buddy’s Custom Cruiser.
Wonderful story, David, especially that special engine and lid photo, very cool!
I’m so glad you mentioned the spare tire windshield washer, it’s a classic sixties VW eccentricity. At first they used the spare for air pressure, with a check valve to keep the spare from going flat. Then they just put a valve stem right in the plastic washer fluid tank.
Either way, the washer button, in the center of the pull-out wiper switch, is not an electric switch, it’s a water valve. Push it in, and the air pressure in the little tank squirts the fluid out the nozzles, which are very close by.
I have a story that’s a little too short for a Bug Tale post. My ’63 had this arrangement. Of course, it’s vital to use antifreeze fluid if you get cold weather, like Boston where I lived. One summer I just filled it with water, expecting to refill before winter, and forgot. Naturally it all froze. (Old VWs were perfect for kids to learn such things the hard way.)
After the thaw I pumped it up and there were no leaks. Hopefully I tried it. Water came squirting out of the button! So I bragged about having the only car with a handy water faucet right on the dash, if you get thirsty on the road.
My wife grew up in a VW family. Her father ran a VW repair shop and there were VWs of all kinds in the family driveway. Mrs. JPC remembers being sternly warned about overuse of the windshield washer as it would flatten the tire. He never told the kids about the check valve. I have teenagers, so I understand.
The result is that when we were married, Mrs. JPC had a 2 year old Accord. That first fall, I went to check the washer reservoir and it was nearly full. She had managed to drive for two years in Indiana on the factory fill of washer fluid, and probably could have gone for 5 more at the rate she was using it. Old habits die hard.
i have a much older water tank can u give me a price on it
vw wiper water tank
Only in Canada will you find such a delightful mishmash of the U.S.A. and Europe and strippo and deluxe.
I can also add some zests of Brougham too, in the late 1980s-early 1990s, I remember then the Nissan Maxima offered once a Brougham version.
I had a 1959 Beetle “Standard” model, very similar in spec to the one featured in this write-up. Same black three-spoke steering wheel, same spartan interior. For 1959, there was one even more spartan feature… the front seats, instead of running on adjustable tracks, were each bolted to the floor with two wing-nuts. To adjust the fore-aft position, you had to loosen the wing nuts, slide the seat, and then retighten. Of course mine was 12 years old when I got it so the wing nuts were pretty much seized in place and seat adjustment was non-existent.
Sure wish I had that car back again today! It was a very nice metallic greeny-gold (they didn’t cheap out on the paint) with dark green leatherette upholstery that held up much better than the pleated fabric or pleated leatherette on the Deluxe models.
My Dad had at the same time a 1968 Beetle Custom, again a stripped-down model where they began the deletion of the chrome strip on the hood. That, and the absence of chrome around the windows, was subsequently adopted by the Mexican-made Beetle that continued after Wolfsburg production ceased.
(Oh, and my Dad’s ’68 Custom had the 1200cc 40hp motor that was fitted to all Custom models from 1960 until the end of the 1969 model year. The Deluxe went to 1300cc in ’66, 1500cc in ’67 and then in 1970 both models went to 1600cc.)
RE:”It was a very nice metallic greeny-gold (they didn’t cheap out on the paint) “.
That was called ” Light Bronze ” and was paint code L247 .
My recently purchased ’59 DeLuxe Beetle is (was when new) the same color .
My 62 Canadian Standard from Manitoba has 29k original miles and floors, interior etc. Unfortunately 2nd owner “restored” it with aftermarket chrome.
Love that old ad copy and just the notion of these very basic, stripped, cars being offered for sale. Even now, in the midst of the “great recession” I can’t think of any car maker offering a stripper model, much less proudly advertising it. (Maybe a Nissan Versa?) How times change.
Can’t believe there were stripper Beetles, considering the standard one isn’t exactly loaded with features. The product planner must’ve really worked hard for that one, in order not to leave out essential items.
What would people today think, now that even the cheapest car is loaded like a luxury car back then? Power WIndows, AC, multi-speed wipers, electronics that would blow people’s mind back then.
Actually, the European Standard Beetle was even quite a bit more stripped than this one; really austere. No chrome, painted hubcaps; think Scotsman.
The ones with no chrome at all probably lasted longer than the fancy ones. All those piercings to allow the chrome trim to be attached are great places for body rust to start.
And then there was the ultimate Sparkaefer during the recession in the seventies. They eliminated every shred of noise insulation. They even eliminated the door of the glove box and put a flimsy plastic bezel on it to cover the hinge holes. My cousin had one.
From around 74 to 76, in the US VW offered a stripper standard Beetle and Rabbit. Much like the car in David’s great article. The same center only headliner, painted black bumpers and trim, no armrests, rubber mats with lots of bare painted metal, the cheapest almost card board door trim panels. Little to no sound insulation. Super cheap seat coverings. You did still get a gas gauge. And on the Rabbit you got non power front drum brakes that worked like crap. They wanted a model they could sell for under 3K. Interesting the Canadian stripper came with the gas heater. No doubt a must in Canada’s cold climate, in the US it was a very expensive option. 68 and newer Beetles, Type’s 3, 4, and Ghia’s came with the spare air windshield washer, and while they did have a check valve so the spare did not go flat, the assembly often went bad and leaked, and when it did the spare went flat. That was a common problem.
My mom’s first car was a new Canadian spec Beetle – likely similar to the subject car, but a couple of years older. IIRC, sun visors were optional*, so she only got one for the driver’s side. Her car also featured the “reserve” fuel tank system described in the article – when the car was new, she was proudly demonstrating it to a coworker, who was unimpressed and huffed “most cars have a gas gauge”. Running around Edmonton in the Winter without an effective heating or defrosting system must have taken some getting used to, and it’s hard to imagine it was an ideal vehicle for road trips back to her parents farm.
In spite of all the short comings with the Beetle, she must have been happy with it overall, as she briefly considered a VW Bus in the mid ’60s when she needed a larger vehicle to transport her growing family. Poor crash safety caused her to reject the Bus – on the test drive she realized there was only about 4″ between you and whatever it was you about to hit – so she got a slant six Valiant instead…
*Edit: One of the ads posted in the article lists “padded sunvisors” as standard – these must have been a 60’s addition – I’m pretty sure they were optional in the late ’50s.
I have had 3 VW’s. One Golf and 2 Beetles including a ’57. They were great cars for what they were. My favorite VW story involves one of ex-college roomates who got a job transfer from the East coast to the West coast. His wife drove a 60’s something Beetle at the time that they were considering getting rid of so they did not have to tow it. After discussing his dilemma with the crew loading his household goods they decided to fill the Beetle with things to be moved and rolled into the moving van with his other stuff.
I moved a Lotus Seven clone in the back of a moving van before. Hardest thing was getting it in and out of there.
Hey guys, that little castle badge… was it standard on VWs of certain years? It looks like the Wolfsburg Edition badge from the 90s, I was just wondering if that was standard or some wiseguy slapped it on there.
Absolutely stock. 1951-1959 had the crest with a blue background. 1960-1963 was like the one above with the black background. It was quite a nice badge.
To add a little historical trivia: Wolfsburg (Wolf’s castle, both shown on the crest) is the name chosen in 1945 for the former “Stadt des KdF-Wagens” (City of the KdF-car), the city the Nazis had built around the VW plant to house the plant workers.
KdF (Kraft durch Freude) was a Nazi leisure organization that also owned cruise ships and a gigantic resort on the Baltic sea.
I have a strong dislike for beetles after doing a bunch of work on them for money. Nothing will make you hate a car more than making it your job. In fact my friend used to own a VW shop. Now he doesn’t even own a car.
Nice one David! Too bad about the lowering.
I don’t know if it was pre-internet days when you owned this car, but the two hottest topics on VW forums are:
Dude, what accessories did you add?
Dude, how much did you lower your bug?
My goal for my VW is to have zero accessories and modifications, thereby making my car distinctive.
Also CC is way more interesting than VW forums. Thanks guys!!
Yes it was pretty much like that when I joined the VW forums. OG standing for Original German was a pretty big topic. A lot of them were deliberately rusting solid cars to get rat look too.
My time with my ’72 Super Beetle, was in New York State’s snow-country. Now I was young (19) and worked outdoors, so the cold didn’t bother me…much. And there were compensations…in snowstorms, slush didn’t form on the windshield and wipers. Just blew off.
This particular model had the forced-air defroster…the THEORY was, it would force, or tease, hot air off the heater ducts onto the windshield. In reality, it was just cold air off the air box onto the glass. It actually did work, in that it kept steamy breath off the glass.
But there were times when I SO craved a heater in that car. I remember one time when there was ice buildup in the footwells…I put a space-heater on the seat and left it on overnight. A miracle the car didn’t explode; but that’s what I was reduced to. And ICE STORMS? Hopeless; and we’d have about one every winter. I remember being desperate enough to throw a bucket of hot water on the windshield; and looking back, it was a miracle it didn’t shatter.
For all of that, it WAS a good snow car. I really wanted the gas heater; but didn’t have the car long enough (18 months) to work towards an aftermarket refit.
Bought a 66 in Canada. Had the same little spare tire pressurized washer and a gas heater. I honestly don’t think I know if the gas heater worked or not. Driving that car in Canada and New England from Ct to Maine, I sure do agree with justpassingthru about the heater. I got used to it but passengers used to hot water to air heaters in american cars seemed to lack understanding. Didn’t seem to bother them if they were drunk enough so I was a popular ride home. Never really thought about that till now. Hmmm. Wonder what else I missed.
It is an interesting post and it is amazing to know about the old model cars. It is good that you bought that car and took time to fix it. Nowadays most of the people will like to buy a car in good condition so that they don’t have to spend money and time to repair that car. I am really delighted that you shared this information with everyone and keep sharing good information like this one.
I inherited a 1971 vw bug that my lovely father in law was in the middle of converting the motor over to a B 52 aircraft motor. I want to finish the wiring and make it run. Any direction?
The book by John Muir that is all about air cooled VW’s. I forget the main title but it’s the book for the compleat idiot. Misspelling is intentional. Google it or probably go to Amazon. I don’t remember the year it stopped covering them but it is very complete and indeed for the complete idiot. It even worked for me.
I used John Muir’s book back in 1971 to rebuild my first VW. Pulled the engine with a borrowed jack and some plywood. Following his sketches, used a hose clamp as a ring compressor! Got it all back together, and it ran! Later, was given a nice VW with seized block. Had a nice 36 hp engine, but-6volt electrics; and the “new” car was 12 volts. No problem there. Went to hardware store and bought a 1\4″ drill and a bunch of grinding attachments. Ground the non-removable generator pedestal to take the 12v version. Ran great! I guess a starving student with tools will attempt anything!
So great to read this article and all the posts. My experience with the Volkswagen in winter is different from some of those who have posted here, and probably much more recent, acquired in real daily winter driving both in town and on the highway.
My first car was a 1965 De Luxe Volkswagen which I bought around 1989. It was equipped with the Eberspächer gas heater. It was a nice feature to have a great volume of hot air virtually instantly when it got down to -40. Still, my 65 was structurally not perfect (floor was falling out). Then, my baby came into my life — a Beryl Green 1962 German-market De Luxe. As structurally sound as the day it left the factory. But no gas heater, so I admit I had my doubts. In fifteen years of driving that car in the worst winter conditions imagineable, I was never cold and my winshield was never frosted. The hot air poured out at the windshield outlets, and you couldn’t comfortably leave your feet too close to the floor outlets. Not only was my VW cozy and warm, it stayed right where I wanted it — on the road, while I passed uncounted yahoos who had driven their BMWs into deep ditches. I can tell you from all those years of winter Volkswagen experience, any deficiency was more between the driver’s two ears than anything to do with the system itself.
Although perhaps counterintuitive to the vast majority, a vent window was to be opened partially when the heater was turned on. With it open an inch, very logically, the heat poured into the car because the used air had somewhere to go. I had many passengers balk at this practice which is specified in the owner’s booklet. (Good thing I listened to the people who wrote the booklet and not to the passengers.) Then there were people driving Volkswagens with all the windows closed as tight as a drum, complaining of no heat and using ice scrapers on the inside of the glass. The VW heating system included cable-operated flaps, and if these were out of adjustment, hot air would be lost and people would bellyache and add to the myth that the Volkswagen had poor heat.
I can attest that the normal VW system works perfectly if it’s maintained in good condition. A small price to pay for an honest car with no electronic nonsense, and better gas mileage and reliability than that brand new BMW stuck in the snowdrift.
Thanks for pointing out this critical aspect of keeping a VW toasty. It appears to have been widely ignored, as evidenced by the endless comments on many VW posts about folks who froze in them and couldn’t keep their windshields from freezing over.
I used this technique, and always stayed perfectly comfortable in my Beetles.
Cracking a window open is recommended in the owners manual on early Holdens that only have a flowthru heater no fan forced air it works fine I drove a 63 Holden year round for 8 years on and off that method also works on my Citroen which has currently a dead heater fan.
My 66 Bug and 66 Fastback both had pop open rear windows, and with leaving the right rear open in winter the heater worked great. Plenty of heat, at least for the mountains of LA in the winter. If you drove through a really deep puddle too fast, the windows could steam up, that happened to me once or twice. The Sundial Camper 66 Bus had a bench 3 across front seat, if you pulled the curtains tight behind you and cracked a vent window the front was OK, but the rest was really cold.
Given the car’s Canadian heritage, you spelled “flavour” wrong in the first sentence! 🙂
Well I usually do but for consistency sakes I stick to the American spellings here.
That’s a nice story, David.
The beetle did not have an electric blower for the heater until the Super Beetle arrived. Except of course those that had the accessory heater unit.
It would have been only one more step to get it going right. David: people put it together, people can pull it apart and fix it. Sometimes you need an extra set of eyes just to find what exactly is kaput. With your next project, please get a few local car guys involved when you get stuck. You can promise them 15 minutes of fame at CC!
My beetle caused me some serious worry. I was driving on the A5 North near Bruchsal and the fuel gauge dropped at an alarming rate. I pulled over, put my coat on as it was freezing and looked under the car for dripping fuel. I couldn’t find any leaks, nothing!
Sweating bullets I went into a village looking for a shop. The mechanic looked around as well and couldn’t find anything wrong. So I kept going worrying myself to death.
A few days later the gauge acted normally again.
What happened was this: the freezing temperature shrunk the contacts of the gauge’s wire and increased resistance. Increased resistance makes the needle drop. When ambient temperatures rose the contact was good again.
I cleaned it up and gave it a squeeze with the pliers and all was good.
Thanx for this article ! .
I had a ’53 Canadian Standard , it was quite similar to yours in trim .
Canadian Standards all got the hydraulic brakes the same year (1951) as did the DeLuxe Beetles , European Standards soldiered on with the cable operated brakes a few years longer .
I’ve owned dozens of old VW’s back in the 1970’s before the stupid kids ruined them all my lowering and other deliberate destroy the car to make you look like a fool , er I mean look !COOL! (yea,right) .
Growing up in New England in the 1950’s and 1960’s I never got cold in VW’s because I always kept that vent wing open , less than 1/4″ , it not only increased the heater output but it also drafted the hot air across the windshield…. basic 7th grade physics there .
We got a poverty pack here in Aus too. Friends of my parents had one back in the 65-66 time frame. No fuel gauge, and I think no dummy grille to match the real one that covered the horn.
I also remember ones with silver painted bumpers & hubcaps too. That was later on,
but I think they were factory jobs. One for the real miser. The one mentioned above did have chrome bumpers though, just checked on a scan of the original slide.
The beatle was assembled here in Aus for a while back in the ’60s
In the mid ’60’s, our pastor broke from tradition and purchased an off-white VW “Bug”. One night after some event, my family’s 60 Dodge Matador wouldn’t start. He packed himself, and his three kids, my mom, and us three kids into the Bug, and proceeded to give us a ride home! My younger brother to this day still swears by them, and still owns a couple (He’s downsized CONSIDERABLY!!) He always made the statement “There’s omething good about an engine that you can start on the ground, and install in less than 30 minutes!” 🙂
The standard guide for assesing a VWs age only really works on German and US models other assembly plants didnt keep up with the changes I found this trying to date a beetle i restored for a friend in Tassie it ended up being a 59 and another friend has a 63 he’s restoring here in NZ Aussie assembled too it doesnt quite match but was sold and registered her in 63 new and many of the detail changes do match a 63 so thats what it is, the chromefree standard models were assembled everywhere it seems but are rare today only deluxes appear to have survived, this one’s driver has had it since it was 18 months old she is 92 the beetle will out live her.
Fascinating article. What I don’t understand is why VW didn’t switch to the 12 volt electrical system until the 1966-67 model year. Most cars, even as early as the 1950s, used 12 v electrical.
I cannot fathom driving a car without a fuel gauge. Guess I’m too used to modern conveniences…
A friend of mine drove a ’61 VW from the time he got his driver’s license until late in his senior year of college. No gas gauge so he kept a small notebook in the glove box to record odometer mileage. He got around 30 MPG so every 200 miles or so he knew to fill the tank. I don’t remember him ever running out of gas, or even having to go to the reserve tank. Rick’s VW was a very minimalist vehicle, albeit one that could be driven foot to the floor for hours at a time. We would actually take it on road trips because it was so cheap to operate; there were times when you had to downshift to third going up a long grade but it never failed to make it to the top.
Another thing that VW’s of this era did not have was an oil filter. People actually installed magnetic drain plugs in the crankcase to try to attract any loose metal bits. The actual key to engine longevity was changing the oil every 3,000 miles or so. That seems excessive now but back then oil was cheap, plus we were young and could change the oil ourselves so no big deal.
Thanks for the excellent article! It actually solves a great mystery for me as I just bought the very same car. I wondered about the odd wheel (I assumed it was put on afterwards) and the all black running boards.
I had a 62 bug with the fuel gauge, and wouldn’t have bought it without. As long as it also had a speedometer , that was good enough for me. My dad’s 61 camper didn’t have the fuel gauge, and he remembers having to use the reserve on an occasion, which was operated by a knob under the drivers seat. The simple 3 spoke steering wheel was also used in the VW Fridolin during the mid 60s, which was a mini van used for the postal service in Germany and Switzerland. Interesting vehicle, and would make a good CC. On one occasion I saw one at the Grand Canyon , but never anywhere else, except the VW magazines. It had a VW Squareback like front, and a bus rear end.
Call me what you will, I’ve never driven a car that didn’t have a fuel gauge. Even the earliest car I’ve ridden as a passenger (a 1955 Chrysler Imperial) had a fuel gauge. It either came standard with it, or it was added on during after purchase. Either way, most cars I’ve seen had a fuel gauge.
Hi: I have just come across this write up about Canadian Volkswagen’s . I own a 1966 Canadian Volkswagen 1200 A Ruby Red with full documentation and it has only 2,310 mileage original miles on it and is as new .Great article as i am just starting to learn about the Canadian Model and would be glad to have more information from anyone. Thanks David
I’m pretty sure this beetle made it out to BC, looks incredibly similar.
The photos are gone but I bet it was. I sold it to a guy in Calgary. I can’t recall his name.
I just found this article, from the COAL list on your post of today, 17 Nov 2019. Great read. I also had a ’62, but only for about 6 months before the engine ‘lost compression.’ I never knew about the opening the vent window trick to get warm air inside, I never could get the windshield washers to work from the air in the spare tire (I think it was flat anyway), and I could never get the glove box door to close. Seeing that steering wheel in the shot above for the first time in 45 years brought me back memories! Southern Ontario salt got the best of my beetle, but I still have the ignition key!
Hey david, i actually own that car. Bought off a guy in langley,bc. I am in northern alberta now. Beetle is great and still running, april to sept. I have had a couple small things did put a new front beam not as low as it was in those pictures still has the roof and engine luggage rack new e brake cable but all in all. Still the utmost the same. Assuming the previous owner tossed on flat fives for wheels. i still run them. Anyway great read.
Here is a shot
Pictures arent up loading sorry
Try reducing the file size. If the picture is 1,200 pixels or less (in the bigger dimension) then it’ll load.
Here goes fingers crossed
I dig that double-exposure(?) engine view.
and here I am in Dallas, texas with a 3 canadian custom beetle…
how it got here noone knows, but its slowly coming to life in my driveway.
Mine has the “batwing” steering wheel, not the three spoke.
also those lovely clamp-style seat adjusters.
and 36hp motor.
no fuel guage either.
Thanks for your article and to all those who’ve posted their experiences.
How about a picture Mark ? .