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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.