Rather unceremoniously, 2020 marks the death of an automotive icon. The very last Volkswagen Beetle rolled from the third generation production line in Puebla, Mexico in July and while you can log in to VW’s website and still see the model listed, existing stock is all that’s left. The two most recent Beetles never really achieved the notoriety of the original, but nonetheless they offered a welcome break from the standard three-box design and were decidedly anti-SUV. You don’t have to like them, but you can respect that they were different.
In the case of the third-generation Beetle, I think they were actually pretty good looking, too. Spacious, economical, and good-to-drive thanks to a shared Golf MQB platform, several special models graced dealerships in an attempt to sway buyers. Here’s one – the ‘Dune’. More a fashion statement than an actual Baja Bug, the Dune added .2″ of ground clearance and a half an inch of plastic moldings all around. Faux skid plates, special decals, a huge spoiler and polished door sills rounded out the exterior trim additions. Power came from the familiar 1.8T shared with the Passat, Golf and Jetta models (among others worldwide), and gave you 170 horsepower channeled only through a 6-speed automatic:
As much as all of us would love to be Jerry Seinfeld, causally trading the most historic air-cooled Porsches on a whim, the reality is that we’re not. But, as ever, I offer a potential solution. The Karmann Ghia gave you Porsche looks on a Beetle budget. Shortly after the Beetle’s arrival in America, VW’s new sport coupe arrived for the 1956 model year. Like the later Scirocco also built by Karmann in OsnabrŁck, Volkswagen based its model on the normal production line Beetle but the swoopy body came from the Italians – technically, borrowed from a Chrysler, actually. Those lines were notoriously complicated; outside of items that open, the body is one piece and constructed entirely by hand. The rear-engine, rear-drive 1.2 liter flat-4 air-cooled clatter wouldn’t get you anywhere as fast as the looks suggest, but then why are you in such a hurry?
About 400,000 were produced in total and they’re not impossible to find today. They’re also more affordable than really top-tier Beetles and early VW Vans, but more significantly you really do get exotic looks on a shoestring budget still. While getting into a fully sorted ’58 356A will set you back around $130,000 – $150,000, you can get into a beautiful early example of the Ghia fully restored for only a fraction of that price:
Where to start….where to start….
So, in the realm of ‘Least Desirable Volkswagen Products’ enthusiasts bemoan, the New Beetle must surely rank very high on the list. But every once in a while one pops up that is worthy of consideration. Maybe they have low mileage or are a neat color. Sometimes they’re turbocharged, making them pretty quick, too – all attributes of this 1999 example. Presented in L9L9 Cyber Green Metallic, it’s traveled only 23,000 miles in its life and its the more macho 1.8T speedbug. Though it’s clearly not stock, we’ve recently looked at a well modified Beetle that pulled off big-dollar mods at a budget price.
Tuner Tuesday GCFSB Alumnus: 2002 Ruf Volkswagen Beetle Turbo S Concept
So when I first caught the gallery shot, it looked as though the owner of this car tried to replicate the super-sweet Beetle RSI – not a bad thing, if it was pulled off correctly.
This one is not pulled off correctly.
However, if you’d like a few chuckles, read on.
Update 2/16/18: After showing as sold in November for $14,900, the mega-cool Ruf Bug is back again for the same $14,900 ask.
This is a car which has haunted these pages since we first began writing up German cars, if you can believe it. Originally, Aaron wrote this car up nearly 6 years ago to the day – November 8, 2011. Back then, the seller was asking an incredibly steep $60,000. Three years later in 2014, Paul spotted it again and revisited the concept. It was then up for sale for a scarcely more reasonable $50,000. In both cases, it was really hard to justify the substantial premium even if it was a neat looking car.
Fast forward to today, and we’re finally getting somewhere. Although the car appears to have changed little since 2014, the asking price is now $14,900. Mileage is far below average at only 51,722 and condition generally looks very good. It has only accrued 10,000 miles in the last three years. Although this car lacks true RUF credentials, the general concept pulls together pretty well and the execution looks nice. Is this the one to have? It’s certainly a lot more compelling than a standard Beetle in many ways and has big dollar mods, but do those mods justify a $11,000 premium over a standard Turbo S?
The below post originally appeared on our site November 9, 2011:
This 1969 Volkswagen Beetle for sale in California is one of those cars from my youth. For the first few years of my life, my father drove a 1967 Beetle in this same shade of Java Green. It wasn’t in particularly good shape or all that exciting, but it was certainly more reliable than the Fiat 131 2-door that shared the garage at the time. That was a car which drove my parents into the arms of reliable Hondas for almost two decades. The 1967 Beetle which my father drove was one of the last classic Beetles, albeit upgraded with a 12 volt electrical system and larger 1.5 liter engine along with safety items such as reversing lamps and sealed beam headlights. The following year would transform the Beetle closer to its final form from the 1970s era. For 1968, there were many improvements, such as an electronic fuel gauge, ventilation system and improved shifter, along with new safety features such as larger bumpers and integrated front seat head restraints. This 1968 Beetle for sale in California is coming off a fresh restoration.
In the late 1990s, as Volkswagen introduced it’s New Beetle, few outside of dyed in the wool VW enthusiasts were aware that production of the original, air-cooled Volkswagen Beetle was still going on in Mexico. A few of these late model Mexican built Beetles made their way back to Europe. By then, these cars were a novelty more than anything else, outclassed as a mode of basic transport even by other models in the Volkswagen product portfolio. Still, there is something neat about seeing modern VW trim pieces in an otherwise vintage interior, similar to the 1967 Beetle from my childhood. In need of some nostalgia mixed with modernism this week? Read further, then.
I haven’t really wanted a Volkswagen Beetle in roughly two decades. When I first start pouring through European Car, Eurotuner, and Hot VWs (in late elementary school) the sheer breadth of available parts made personalizing a Bug seem like a great idea. That quickly shifted to GTIs and S4s as middle school rolled around, and the old People’s Car fell by the wayside. After spending a few weeks in LA, however, I’ve been rebitten by the Baja Bug. They’re a hilarious mix of tough off-roader, tuner expression, and disposably replaceable project car. This example is beautiful and well-made without being over the top. The wide tires aren’t too tall, the interior is custom but mostly comfortable, and overall it’s a well-composed Bug that would turn heads on the streets and rip corners on the trail.
While I would give the current Volkswagen Beetle a second glance, a vintage one always catches my eye, especially these days when you don’t see that many in traffic. Growing up in the 1980s, you’d still see a good number of the people’s car being used as daily drivers, but not so much anymore. There’s plenty of ways you can customize a vintage Beetle to your liking and for not much money, either. One of my favorite looks is the “Cal look” as we see here with this 1968 Beetle. Powered by a 1600 cc dual carb engine and sitting on Empi wheels, this one is a real looker.
While I was wandering through Autostadt in Wolfsburg, Germany last month, perhaps one of the most significant cars I came across in the ZeitHaus was the golden Beetle that sat amongst the other exhibits. This was the millionth example produced. It’s rather remarkable that just ten short years after the end of World War II, Volkswagen would produce this many examples of the “people’s car.” In the late 1970s, production would wind down in Germany, with the last Beetle rolling off the line at the Emden plant in 1978. Production would continue on until 2003 in Puebla, Mexico, ending a magnificent chapter in automotive history. This 1977 Beetle for sale in Georgia represents the last year of US sales for the Beetle sedan. With under 10,000 miles on the odometer, this is one for the serious VW collector.
For all the Alpinas, AMGs and Andials we might feature, there is one German cars that has remained a favorite of automotive customizers for years: the original Volkswagen Beetle. There’s an infinite amount of ways you can go with Beetle modifications, from dune buggy to dragsters. One popular modification is the Cal Look, consisting of a lowered suspension, aftermarket wheels and sometimes removal of the bumpers. This freshly restored 1968 Beetle for sale in Arizona has shades of that style, but retains the original bumpers. Wearing a bold shade, it looks great sitting on Empi style wheels.