1977 Volkswagen Beetle Karmann Cabriolet

Highlights


• Karmann-bodied convertible imported in 2002
• One UK owner since import
• Original unrestored condition
• 1977 build originally supplied in Germany

THE BACKGROUND


In 1948 Wilhelm Karmann bought a VW Beetle sedan and converted it into a four-seated convertible. That would be the start of an incredible relationship between Karmann and Volkswagen that would not only lead to a factory-approved Beetle ragtop, but also to the striking Karmann Ghia – a sports model in its own right. 

The Beetle Cabriolet began production in 1949 by Karmann at its factory in Osnabruck. To compensate for the strength lost in removing the roof, the sills were reinforced with welded U-channel rails, a transverse beam was fitted below the front edge of the rear seat cushion, and the side cowl-panels below the instrument panel were double-walled. Also, the lower corners of the door apertures had welded-in curved gussets, and the doors had secondary alignment wedges at the B-pillar.

The soft top was cabriolet-style with a full inner headliner hiding the folding mechanism and crossbars. It ran from 1949 all the way through to 1986, when the last official Karmann Beetle Cabriolet was finished.

THE HISTORY


This example came to the UK in 2002, after its one British owner spotted it on a business trip to Germany the same year. At the time, he owned a Mercedes-Benz van and truck dealership and was visiting the company’s head office in Stuttgart when he saw the car parked up and asked the owner if it might be for sale.

A conversation ensued that resulted in the Beetle finding its way back to Suffolk, though it was imported into the UK via Northern Ireland for reasons of practicality for the shipping company. 

As a result, it was issued with an Ulster registration number. 

The owner and his wife have had the car ever since and have used it for summer leisure drives and the occasional classic car event, though they have never covered huge mileages. They have reluctantly decided to sell after realising they use it less and less and the car is sitting in their barn doing very little. 

THE PAPERWORK


Aside from a UK V5C and an owners’ workshop manual, the Beetle only comes with a selection of MOTs and more recent bills. 

The odometer reading of 52,919mph should be disregarded, as the odometer has never worked in the time he’s owned it. 

THE EXTERIOR 


This is a lovely looking car in one of the best colour schemes, appearing resplendent in Navy Blue and in very good overall condition, considering it has never been restored and has only ever seen localised body repairs where needed.

There are a couple of areas in need of minor attention – the nearside running board, which has some bubbling under the rubber trim and is missing a chrome finishing strip, and the left-hand front door, which has a scratch a couple of inches long close to its closing aperture.

There is also some light corrosion to the steel wheels, as well as some very minor paint wear to the trailing edge of both wings. 

Both the front and rear valances have been treated at some point with a textured, rubberised stone chip paint, which has done a terrific job of maintaining the overall condition. 

The hood is in fine condition, too, with only very minor wear, while the car comes with a factory tonneau cover that is also in great condition. 

THE INTERIOR 


It’s a case of basic but very smart inside, with the blue vinyl seats in excellent condition, along with the matching door cards. 

The rest of the interior is trimmed in black rubber and vinyl, from the floors to the padded dashboard – which is the last revision of the traditional Beetle interior. It’s a 1303, which means a shrouded black speedometer, fours-poke steering wheel and separate glove compartment. 

It’s all in fine order, while a modern aftermarket stereo CD-player takes care of in-car entertainment.

THE MECHANICS 


This is a Beetle 1303, which is one of the most advanced versions of the VW air-cooled engine. It’s a 1,493cc unit with a mighty 44bhp. 

That might not sound much, but it made the Beetle a much better cruiser than earlier air-cooled models, capable of a steady 75mph and with reasonable decent fuel economy. 

It starts on the button and sounds wonderful, in the way that only an air-cooled Volkswagen can do. It’s a uniquely charming sound, and one that is instantly recognisable and unique to air-cooled VWs. 

The vendor reports that the car has always been properly maintained and kept in perfect running order, while the steering, suspension and brakes are all in decent condition and operate as they should. 

THE APPEAL


There’s something uniquely charming about Beetle cabriolets, not least because of the quality of the drop-top conversion, which is so much better executed than many of its contemporaries. It’s a high quality car, and one that transcends generations with its appeal – yet that’s hardly surprising given that it enjoyed a production run of almost 40 years. 

This is a charming left-hand-drive example brought into the UK by its first British keeper, who fell in love with it on a business trip almost 20 years ago and has fond, cherished memories of it. 

He and his wife will be very sad to see it go, but it’s time for the Beetle to be loved and enjoyed by a new owner, and the incredibly originality and standard specification of this example, the classy colour scheme and the wonderful backstory gives it a huge amount of appeal. 

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As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. All bids are legally binding once placed. Any winning bidder who withdraws from a sale, is subject to our bidders fee charge. Please see our FAQs and T&C's for further information. Viewings of vehicles are encouraged, but entirely at the seller's discretion.

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1977
  • Make Volkswagen
  • Model Karmann Beetle
  • Colour Blue
  • Odometer 52,919 Miles
  • Engine size 1493
  • Location Suffolk
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
30 bids
  • Lu•••• £15,500 28/10/21
  • Qt•••• £15,250 28/10/21
  • Lu•••• £15,000 28/10/21
  • Lu•••• £14,750 28/10/21
  • Qt•••• £14,500 28/10/21
  • Qt•••• £14,250 28/10/21
  • Lu•••• £14,000 28/10/21
  • Qt•••• £13,750 28/10/21
  • Lu•••• £13,500 28/10/21
  • Pa•••• £13,250 28/10/21

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