When it comes to popular and long-lived cars, there’s very little that can come close to the Volkswagen Beetle - and its historical role is hard to overstate.
The Beetle was originally designed by Ferdinand Porsche, as part of a brief to create a car for the people - the literal “Volks Wagen”, or “people’s car”. In Weimar Republic era Germany few people could afford cars, and Germany wanted its citizens to follow the example set by the Ford Model T in the USA.
It had a relatively simple set of specifications: it had to seat five (including three children), travel at 100km/h (60mph) and use no more than 7 litres of fuel per 100km (39mpg). Porsche’s design went into production, briefly, as the “KDF-wagen” (short for “Kraft Durch Freude”, or "strength through joy”), before the outbreak of World War 2.
After the end of the war, the Volkswagen factory came under the purview of Major Ivan Hirst, who saw the potential of the car to get the German economy moving again. Hirst persuaded his superiors to place an order for thousands of cars, providing jobs for the residents of Wolfsburg. Civilian production started soon after and the car, then known as “the Volkswagen”, became nicknamed “kafer” (German for “beetle”) due to its design. By 1955 the company had produced a million examples.
Though production of the Beetle ended in 1974 in Wolfsburg, Volkswagen branches in other countries kept on building the car for domestic sales. Incredibly, the last Beetle ever made rolled off the production line in Mexico in 2003. With 21.5 million cars built, the Beetle holds production records as the longest-running car with the most examples manufactured of a single type.
This Type 1 Beetle was first registered in the UK in April 1972. It’s a Beetle 1200, so it comes equipped with the 1200cc - actually 1,192cc - engine. That’s good for 40hp, and 65lbft of torque.
It has some subtle modifications, as you’ll often find on Beetles. In this case, the car has the typical “Cal look” lowered front end, but it hasn’t gone the whole hog on this style - the 1200 still retains its original wheels and the chrome bumpers, both of which are commonly changed for the style.
The exterior has been repainted at some point in “Brilliant Red”, an Audi colour. This is a solid colour, rather than a pearl or metallic shade, matching what would have been available on the original car but with more modern paint technology.
There’s some service history with the car, though at 48 years of age there’s bound to be some gaps. The Beetle, though MOT exempt, has an MOT through to January 2021, and was last serviced in August 2020.
Along with the V5C, which marks it out as a historic vehicle and thus exempt from VED, there’s a partial service history with the Beetle. Like so many other cars of its type, it will have run through a period of being worth very little and not subject to diligent record-keeping, with owners unaware of the future classic status! However the more recent history dates back to 1999, and comes right up to the present month.
It also had annual MOTs up until 2012, at which point it became exempt under the rolling 40 year rule. There’s been further MOTs in 2016 and then, most recently, January of this year.
There’s some interesting changes in the cabin too. The front seats are from the Beetle’s sibling and replacement, the Golf - and the Golf GTI at that - mounted up to the original Beetle runners. These have black seat covers, and you’ll spot some wear to the driver’s side bolster area.
The back seats are original items, and have identical covers - though there is a small cut in the base of the centre seat. Otherwise what interior trim there is remains in good condition.
To match the exterior, the current owner has painted the dashboard red, with black contrasting areas - including the glovebox lid and instrument panel surround. You’ll also find stainless steel pedals.
There’s also a retro-style “Autoradio” stereo, which adds USB and SD card compatibility, and new speakers in the kick panels.
Courtesy of that Audi paint respray, the Beetle’s exterior is in largely good condition. That said, there are a few areas where blemishes occur.
Getting up close to the paintwork you can see some areas of marking around the engine cover and front boot lid. There’s also some small patches of bubbling right on the lower edges of the front wings.
It’s not clear when the respray took place, however there’s also a patch where the paint has been touched up with an aerosol.
The wheels appear to be a good condition, with the chrome centre sections polished up to a mirror shine. The chrome front and rear bumpers are also in good condition.
Though we haven’t had a chance to see the Beetle in action, the current owner tells us it’s a daily driver. It’s been a main car over the last few months, and hasn’t missed a step in that time.
The engine is reliable - as was the original design brief - and appears clean and well maintained. The owner reports no issues with gear selection with the four-speed manual transmission, or braking. With its age in mind, an owner who keeps up to date with its maintenance requirements is unlikely to be disappointed.
There isn’t a lot of advanced equipment in the Beetle, so there is precious little else to go awry.
It’s one of the most popular cars ever made for a reason, and the car has a thriving culture - and plenty of parts and modifications available. Both the Beetle look and sound remain unique.
The photos in this listing have been provided to us by the seller.
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