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Volkswagen Beetle

Volkswagen Beetle Published: 17th Jan 2020 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Volkswagen Beetle
Volkswagen Beetle
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Why should I buy one?

VW Beetles make timeless practical classics that never seem to go out of fashion. It’s in effect the ‘Poor Man’s Porsche’ with a similar air-cooled, rear-mounted boxer engine and transaxle driving the rear wheels. A hippy icon in the US back in the 60s and 70s, but they’re still uber cool whatever your age and insurance cover is some of the most painless to obtain.

What can I get?

There’s a variety of body styles, starting with the most popular saloon and convertible but there’s also the larger, stretched wheelbase Type 3 spin off which comprised of a roomier saloon, the Variant (estate) and a trim looking fastback. Don’t discount either the even larger four-door 411/412 range which provides a Beetle-like character plus modernity such as a MacPherson strut front suspension (carried over to the Porsche 924) and Bosch fuel injection. Back to Beetles, and while the early split screen and ‘oval’ rear models command the best classic status, the later versions are far more useable, particularly the ‘Super’ 1302/1303 Beetles with their 411 suspension and a 1600cc engine yet strangely they hold the least appeal to true VW fans.

What are they like to drive?

Beetles feel like slugs. They are inherently lazy but their forté lies in their cruising abilities, care of tall gearing and low-revving engines. The performance difference between say a 1300 and the 1500 isn’t that great – at 44bhp it’s only four horses to the good. Similarly, the 1600 ‘Super Beetle’ could only muster 80mph according to tests at the time, although it’s notably nippier through the gears and the 411/412 is fairly nippy. Economy doesn’t vary much between the engines either. Their handling needs a measured approach, wet or dry, as the tail happy antics gives anybody new to oldies a skipped heart-beat or two on early versions, improved on Super Beetles while the longer wheelbase Type 3s and 411/412 feel more secure and have best brakes.

What are they like to live with?

Made right up to 2003 (in Mexico) you can buy a fairly new Beetle although specialists and devotees don’t rate them as highly as earlier mounts as build can be hit-and-miss, unlike German-made cars which have in-built refinement rather than a luxury look.s For the majority, post ’67 models are best thanks to 12 volts electrics and so on but one of the reasons Super Beetles aren’t held in such high esteem is their reputation for serious rusting. The Beetle was fairly sophisticated in its day and even now requires special tools for certain jobs, although after all these years, respected dodges and wrinkles can get you by. Massive specialist aftermarket support means that repairs are very easy and affordable, making the VW one of the smartest starter classic buys around and so long as you side-step the ‘ovals’ and original ‘Split screens’ (which can retail for well over £20,000), the regular models remain pretty attainable with good saloons selling for £6000 or so. Type 3s may be pitched a little higher but the 411/412s are the best bargains where you’re unlikely to spend proud of £5000 for a top model. Beach Buggies are very difficult to value as so much rides on the actual kit and quality of the build.

We reckon

Beetles are an acquired taste so you need to find this out for yourself. But they drive okay, possess a lot of street cred, are pretty easy to maintain and insure and a viable daily driver. And don’t dismiss a Type 3 or 411/412 either.

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