You don’t need us to tell you how important the Volkswagen Beetle was, is, and continues to be. We’re also not here to give you a history lesson, as when it comes to the Beetle, it would be a long one… so we’ll try and keep it brief here.
The Volkswagen Type 1 (as it is officially known) was a car conceptualised at the direction of Adolf Hitler, and under the guidance of Ferdinand Porsche to be the “peoples car” of Nazi Germany. However, despite many promises, during the Nazi occupation only a few thousand units of the “Type 1” were produced, and were mainly used by Nazi officers, and close allies of Hitler… some “peoples car” eh.
It wasn’t until the end of the 1940’s in post-war Germany that civilian cars were really produced en masse. The opportunity to take over the Volkswagen factory was initially offered to the British, who true to form turned it down stating “the vehicle does not meet the fundamental technical requirements of a motor-car… it is quite unattractive to the average buyer… to build the car commercially would be a completely uneconomic enterprise“. Ahem…. we’ll say no more.
As soon as the humble “Type 1” got into the hands of the general German public, they affectionately named it the “Käfer” (Beetle in german). The car was a roaring success providing cheap, reliable motoring to the masses. It was produced virtually unchanged for a staggering 65 years (1938 – 2003). Its simple design (a flat-four, rear engined, rear-wheel drive layout) was key to its success – production was cheap, parts readily available, and maintenance was something any home mechanic could carry out with ease.
The Beetle’s success as a car simply cannot be overstated. Throughout its lifespan an estimated 21 million units were sold worldwide, and few cars before or since can claim to have had such a fundamental impact from a cultural perspective.
We love what Andrew’s done with his Beetle, it’s got that perfect combination of being modified (not how it sits nice and low, and on a set of white wall tyres) but still looking very original and retaining all that 60’s charm. We reached out to Andrew to learn a bit more about this lovely Bug! Read the owner interview below!
Volkswagen Beetle (1966)
- The engine is running 1641 barrels and pistons, and a few other tweaks to help it keep up with modern traffic.
- It has a 4-inch narrowed adjustable beam up front, and suspension has been lowered significantly all round.
- The wheels are standard up front and banded (for extra width) at the rear.
Interview with the owner
- Well, another awesome Beetle for the website – great! When did you purchase this one then Andrew?I got it around 2 years ago.
- What made you buy VW Beetle?I had a 1303s from when I was 17 until I was 42, then the dreaded tin worm beat it. I always hankered to get another one since then.I was looking for a '67 model (the year I was born) but this baby came along and it was just “right”.
- What's it like to drive?Well… it’s a Beetle.It’s noisy, and not the quickest, BUT it gives more smiles per mile than any other car. You need to allow time when going places for everybody to talk to you about how their Gran had one!
- Has this one been restored / rebuilt?Yes, partly. When I found the car it had been off the road for ten years.It had been through the hands of various people who had carried out work on it but never returned it to the road. Since I have owned it, it's been treated to a full engine rebuild as it kindly left the contents or the previous engine on my driveway!
- And what about mods, what have you done to it then?It's had work to the engine, front beam, suspension, and wheels & tyres.
- What have you done to the engine?Well as mentioned earlier it's been fully rebuilt.It's now running 1641 barrels and pistons, and a few other tweaks to help it keep up with modern traffic.
- And you mentioned some work to the front axle?Yes it's had a 4-inch narrowed adjustable beam up front, so it can sit nice and low.
- What else have you done to the suspension?Suspension has been dropped all round, it was much lower but was not suited to Norfolk roads so we have gone back up a bit so it can be driven regularly. I don’t believe in trailer queens, cars should be driven!
- What have you done with the wheels & tyres?Wheels are standard up front and banded at the rear.
- Do you plan to do any further modifications to it?Yes, the wheels will be deviated to cherry red and whitewall tyres added this year.
- Is the car a "keeper" or will you sell it one day?I'll take it to my grave.
- Do you own any other interesting cars?Yes, I also have a 1970 Morris Traveller (check out @biglittlecar on Instagram)
- Ok final question – ignoring cost, and assuming you couldn’t go and sell it for profit… what’s your dream car and why?A Volkswagen SP2! What a special car that VW failed to bring to other countries, it was very pretty for its time and still looking good now.Note: These really are very cool, see below for a picture of one.