Just a few years ago it wasn’t all that extraordinary to encounter an original Volkswagen Beetle on the street or highway. While their heyday was the ’60s and ’70s, we continued to see them in significant numbers through the ’90s. We recently looked around for Beetle infestations and found them few and far between. Time has taken its toll on the car that first debuted back in 1938. That 75 year old design is still idiosyncratic, a series of curves and bulges that delight the eye, perhaps more now than when this was the #1 selling import. That was, of course, before the onslaught of Japanese and Korean cars as well as domestic sub-compacts.
We’re guessing this (mostly) white one dates from the mid ’60s. One of the selling points of the car was the ease with which parts could be replaced. Here’s a sexist ad from 50 years ago suggesting that changing out a crumpled fender would set you back less than $25. We hope that the owner of this one — don’t you love the glassed in headlights and the bumper override? — paid far less for the red one that seems to have come pre-dented.
This black Beetle of somewhat later vintage (head lights aren’t covered, the rear windows are hinged, etc.) sits higher than normal — those tires look a little oversized which means they’re still fairly tiny by today’s standards. If you read the message on the license plate frame you’ll come to the conclusion that the owner is not the kind who keeps a bud vase suction cupped to the dash.
We found another macho Beetle wearing lots of “go fast” decals but the buttercup yellow color would seem to undermine the testosterone-driven intent.
Feral Cars Field Scout Steve DeBro found this crusty Beetle a while back. Some talk about patina while others go all in!
There seems to be an epidemic of passenger side front fender blight going around as evidenced by this white Beetle that sports aftermarket “eyelids” and a roof rack that increases luggage capacity by.. well, by the sky’s the limit. Literally.
As noted, Beetles are not all that common these days so finding two “in the wild” was a rare treat. Those reflective license plates sure mess up the mood though, don’t they?
Volkswagens were among the first cars sold here that came equipped with sun roofs. This one, perhaps a ’58 (as suggested by those tiny tail lights), sports a fabric slide-back roof, pre-dating the sliding steel sunroofs so common today.
Travel tip: visit this statue of a gorilla holding up a Beetle if you’re ever near Bristol, VT. It seemed like a good idea at the time, we’re supposing.
We kinda love this commercial from ’65 which contrasts the steep rate of depreciation or deflation, if you will, of domestic cars with VW’s in a graphic deflationary way.. and this one which emphasized that year-to-year styling changes were minimal although we’re not fooled: that small rear window indicates it’s from a model year earlier than ’58.
We are hugely impressed with the pristine condition of this ’59 Beetle that’s for sale in nearby Brea, CA. Yes, the asking price is $32,500 — that’s not a typo. Something like this cost about $1400 when new. Seems like a great return on investment, doesn’t it?
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