Share your Stories, Rants, Raves, Advice, Comments or "How-to" Articles Here
The Chronicles of
Please allow me to meander through 33 years of Bug boo boo's. It usually goes something like this ..CRASH! Then .."Oh ^%@*!" My very first Bug-boo-boo wasn't with a VW Bug that I owned. As a matter of fact, at this point in time, I had never even given those little cars one iota of consideration. I remember that our church pastor Reverend Orr had one, and I considered it a novelty more than anything else with its Singer sewing machine-sounding engine.
My first car was a 57 Chevy Bel Aire Sport coupe. I was in the USAF and purchased the turquoise car for $225. The freeze plugs all blew out on the drive home and ... hold on here, I'm getting off track. Okay back to the Bug boo boo story. Two girls in a tan 1960 Bug broad sided my 57 Chev. It messed up my left quarter panel and the front end of the Bug. No one was hurt, but I was not enthralled with Hitler's concept of a little car for the people. During my four years in the military I met and fell in love with a beautiful redhead Diane and along the way we ended up with a collie and a 1965 Bug. I sold the 57 for $750 a serious mistake that I have always regretted. We didn't have much of anything else mind you, but times were good and we managed. We didn't have that Bug long and to be honest I don't recall why. Let's rack that up to an old age memory problem and move on.
In 1973 we purchased a new Texas yellow Super Beetle. I was driving to work one morning minding my P's and Q's, and entering an intersection on a green light, when a guy runs the light and plows into the left front fender. This was my first trip to the body shop. Once, while the little yellow Bug was parked in front of our house, a lady was driving her daughter to school and looking at her homework papers at the same time, and you guessed it .CRASH! Right into the left rear fender - trip number two to ye 'ole body shop. It was a beautiful spring day for a yard sale at my parent's house with tons of high quality junk to sell including the kitchen sink, believe it or not. I parked the Bug down the block out of harm's way, or so I thought. It seems my sister had the same plan, so I parked behind her. During the course of the day a vehicle parked in front of my sister's truck causing her to have to back up when she left to go get us all something to eat. CRASH! Their truck had a trailer hitch with one of those ball hookup deals on the end. They make one heck of a hole in your trunk lid. Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho off to the body shop we go.
I was trying to get to a computer store to pick up a special cable for my son's computer before they closed, when I turned left out of a parking lot onto a main thoroughfare. Yes, I looked both ways first. Unfortunately, this woman was doing the same thing directly across the street, and we turned into each other ..CRASH number 3. Can you say, "Back to the body shop?" I knew you could. It was just another day at the grocery store pushing the cart to the car wondering how we spent nearly a hundred dollars on four small bags of groceries, when we see "it," but didn't hear "it" "it" being CRASH! Some inconsiderate son-of-a-beach-comber obliviously backed into our right rear fender and continued on his merry way. Off we go to the body shop.
Some of you out there may have had this experience. Hopefully, if not, you never will. I was minding my own business traveling down the road in a residential area, which reminds me of a Richard Pryor bit I heard years ago. He said there was an old drunk neighbor that would stand in the street yelling at passing cars, "Slow down! This is a neighborhood not some damn residential area!" Okay...Lord I apologize for that. Where was I? Oh yeah Anyway, all of a sudden you see a blur across your windshield and in a split second realize that's the side of a car! Slam on the brakes screech .CRASH! This guy just blew off the stop sign and cruised right through. I t-boned him pretty much dead center .100 point bonus! No one was hurt, and I think we can all agree a good thing, although not very good for the Bug this time. Enter the insurance adjuster from hell. She was determined to declare the car "totaled," keep the car and give us $800. I tried to explain to her that this wasn't your run-of-the-mill puttsy VW Bug shimmying down the road with four fenders falling off belching black smoke as it goes. I even showed her pictures of the Bug and classified ads showing the cost of comparable Bugs. She wasn't going to budge, and neither was I. I asked to see her supervisor and started the whole process again, but this time while rubbing my neck and adding "my neck hurts." They excused themselves and left the room. A short while later they came back in with a medical waiver for me to sign and gave us a check and the car. We had it fixed for less than what they gave us. As they say "the squeaky wheel gets the oil."
I taught both my kids how to drive a stick shift in our Bug. If they were embarrassed to drive it, they never said so. My son Travis was working late nights at a restaurant, and that son-of-beach-comber guy we mentioned earlier must have eaten there, because sure enough he nailed the same fender in the parking lot! Here we go loop-dee-loo here we go loop-dee-lie back to the you-know-what. Not wanting to be outdone in this tale, my wife gave me a surprise birthday present one year. We left at the same time very early in the morning for work. Our other car must have been at the shop. I drive a company vehicle, which was parked on the street. She got in the Bug, and I watched her back out of the garage from the company van. Did I mention it was my birthday? The neighbor directly across the street had a trailer parked in front of his house. I'm thinking .she sees the trailer right? Wrong .CRASH! Deck lid smashed in. Happy birthday to me, and no birthday cake at the body shop either!
I have saved the best for last. My daughter Stacey was on her way to work, while at a railroad crossing she, too, encountered that son-of-a-beach-comber guy, who proceeded to whip around her at the tracks and clipped the fender pushing her onto the tracks. Yet another CRASH. He, of course, decided stopping wasn't on his agenda. The fender was pushed hard up against the tire making moving the car impossible. Insert sound effect .CLANG, CLANG, CLANG! The large crossing gates lowered, and lo and behold a locomotive was coming. My daughter's first thought was, "dad will kill me if I leave the Bug here." She jumps out, grabs the fender, and with Herculean strength wrenches it off the tire. (No one bothered to help her by the way.) She gets back in the Bug and turns the key. You know what happens next in the story this being a VW Bug and all ..it won't start. So, she jumps out and pushes it off the tracks all by herself. I was happy to have my daughter in one piece and told her I loved her more than the Bug. But, it was body shop time again.
I have never received a traffic ticket from the police knock on wood. The above mentioned Bug boo-boos have transpired over the course of 33 years and over 300,000 miles. Oh there's been a few other nicks and dings and broken windshields one from a suicide-prone roadrunner, but all-in-all "The Blues" has been a reliable car and still turns a few heads as we drive around. Come to think of it, so does my wife. I'm one lucky man.
I had too much vacation
time on the books so the boss said get out of here. So with 10 days
to kill I decide to jump in "The Blues" and head for Lincoln,
New Mexico. I have a friend there who is writing a book about the
life and times of Billy the Kid and works at the Billy the Kid Museum
early next morning it's me and the open road. I decide to take the
scenic route through Globe Arizona and down through Salt River Canyon.
Quite a climb at times, but I drop her down into third and she accommodates
with no hesitation. A big Road Runner decides to commit suicide
on my windshield. Scares the you know what out of me! To make a
long story short in 7 hours I arrive in Carrizozo, New Mexico, and
spend the night at the "Roach Palace Motel. I find my friend
next day and we reminisce about how I taught him to drive in a 1965
V-Dub that he bought not knowing how to dive any car let alone a
stick shift Bug.
first bug was a tan color, 1965 that we bought back in 1970. It
was a kick to drive and I remember filling the gas tank with $2.25.
My boss rode with me one day to watch me make sales presentations
for KIKX radio here in Tucson. It was raining and the windshield
wipers stuck so I figured a little tap would remedy the problem.
I'll never forget the look on his face when I shattered the windshield
by tapping with my fist. That was the only problem I ever had with
my first Bug. It was a great little car and I wish I had kept it.
eventually was released from the dog house by my wife and can honestly
say that the bus gave us plenty of good years. My next and
current VW is a '73 Super Beetle, which was purchased new from Pima
Volkswagen on April 10, 1973. I remember that the air conditioning
was an extra $410.00. The total price was $3,295.00. After all the
haggling was done, I sat down at the salesman's desk and wrote a
check for $3,200.00 I handed it to him and he said, "Sir you've
made a mistake. The check is $95 short. " I said, no that's
what I'll give you. The salesman claimed they couldn't do that.
I said, "No problem" got up and walked out. Needless to
say, he caught up with us before we reached the parking lot. The
car is still with us and for approximately 8 years, I used it for
my job with the Arizona State Lottery delivering Lottery tickets
and supplies to 150 retailers. I was averaging 450 to 500 miles
each week. It's longevity is thanks to Keith who has overhauled
it twice and kept it running all these years. And yes, it still
Thanks for another great story Loren! Loren Knapp is an avid
contributor in our forum and has covered some local VW shows that
you can read about in the Event section.
10 Top Clues That The Love Bug Story Is Disney Fiction:
In "Fully Loaded", Lindsey Lohan's character only pays $75 for a
functional, rust-free '63 Beetle rag top.
Daniel Mosher- SuperBeetles.com/AllAirCooled.com Cartoonist
I posed this question on the forum and haven’t gotten an answer. Believe me it’s a legitimate question. I want to purchase a Super Beetle and wonder what year is the best too purchase. Bear in mind I’m more interested in a carb vs fuel injection. I’m sure there is a year when VW put out it’s best Super Beetle. I’m just looking for some recommendations, thanks.
As the Super Beetle got older it got better. I have fuel injection in my '75 Super and have never (knock on wood) had a problem with it. The 71-72 Super Beetle has some of the traits for both the Standard and Super Beetle and in some peoples eyes, looks more like a Beetle should. I would say that the most collectible would be the 1971 1302 Super Beetle. The carb is probably more dependable, cheaper and easier to work on so you might want to base your decision on that.
I have researching why the Super Beetle came into production. Most people think that it was part of the "evolution" of the Beetle, it turns out that VW had very different reasons for launching the 1302 and 1303 Super Beetle.
It was the mid 50s and
the Volkswagen Beetle had become the number one selling import in
America. Auto manufacturers were going out of business (Studebaker,
Hudson, Packard, DeSoto, etc.) left and right. In an effort to compete,
the big three decided to build smaller models of their own. Hence
the Falcon, Valiant and Corvair were introduced in 1960. Along comes
Ralph Nader with his criticism on the Corvair and his book "Unsafe
at any speed" which managed to destroy this great little car,
(GM dropped it in 1979). Nader also wrote a book attacking the VW
Beetle called "Small--on safety: The designed-in dangers of
the Volkswagen". The result of all this were efforts by the
auto makers working with lobbyists and lawmakers to outlaw the Bug.
Legislation got passed (1967 to go into effect in 1977) by the D.O.T.
and E.P.A. which stated any car sold in the U.S. must be able to
crash head-on into a wall at 35 mph with the driver walking away.
Thanks for clearing up misconceptions that a lot of people have about the origins of the Super Beetle. Sure it was part of the evolution of the Beetle but it seems like Volkswagen was desperately trying the remain in the market and it just didn't happen.
I simply wanted to make
a few remarks regarding the first question in the forum. A young
person who had previously written in was confused about Volkswagen's
previous tendency to make fun of their own cars in their ads.
Well written. I am a hug fan of the DDB ads that really put VW back on the map again. We have a section of them in the Vintage Ads section.
I'm a young Super Beetle enthusiast, and since I don't really know as much as I'd like about them, I thought that I'd ask you. In most of the vintage ads VW seems to be making fun of their cars. I realize that by today's standards a beetle is a piece of crap. But I was just wondering, in general, if Super Beetles (specifically '73 Supers) were decent cars to own and operate. I know that supers didn't come with a/c (most of them, anyway) and I know a place that sells a/c units for them. I was wondering how much this would drain the horsepower if I were to install one. Do the speedometers have backlights for driving at night? I'm pretty sure that they do, but I'm not positive. And lastly, (this is probably a stupid question, but) can '73s use unleaded gas?
Thanks for the help, and I apologize if I asked overly idiotic questions.
First of all there are no stupid questions around here. I'm more than happy to help anyone get into the sport of "Beetling"..
1 - The Super Beetle was as good as any car in it's day. I work for a major automobile manufacturer and always drive a brand new car. But I love to drive my Super Beetle more than any of them, and I drive it anywhere and everywhere. The Beetle is cheap to operate, easy to work on and the parts are available and inexpensive too.
2 - Since the Super Beetle has a 1600cc - 60hp engine, running it with A/C won't be a problem. Of course it will drain the power slightly but not enough to affect you cruising around in it. I.C.E. Air Conditioning in CA can help you out with any parts or questions you might have about A/C units and the Beetle.
3 - Yes, the speedo is backlit and the dash lights have a dimmer switch in the 1303 Super Beetle.
4 - The Super Beetle was designed to run on unleaded gas of 92 octane.
Good luck with your Super Beetle!
Actually I need an article
about VW speedometer restoration, I know that there was within the
Restoration Corner but know I cannot find it. Can You help me?
Hamilton stopped writing for us about a year ago to pursue other
projects. Recently he contacted us and claimed the Restoration Corner
as his "intellectual property" and asked us to take it
down. We complied with his wishes so his articles are no longer
available at SuperBeetles.Com. Jeff can be contacted at www.revolks.com
and we wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.
I wanted to thank you for your newsletter. I read it, find it very interesting. I am a former Super Beetle owner. I want to buy another beetle again, a weekend fun car. Give to my son to be a daily driver when he gets older (he is now 13), needs a car of his own. So I am doing the research now, to select a beetle later (probably in November, December this year; need to payoff our car loan first), fix it up, prepare for the "big day" when he can drive a car. Also, I believe a beetle will help us break the "every 5-year" circle we are presently in; that is, every 5 years we buy another car... Get another car, 5-year loan, the car starts to break down, at the end of 5 years, get rid of the repair-mobile, and start over again...
I have been doing this for as long as I remember... I would like to ask your opinion on something. How about buying a used - newer - Mexican bug as sold by BTLMEX, Inc.? The logic behind this is; you start out with a decent used car, and then spend money on upgrades, Vs taking apart a really used car, rebuilding it, and THEN adding the upgrades. The truth is, we do not have the time, or the patience/expertise to take apart a car, and rebuild it. Any work we will have to pay a VW shop to do. If we can spend less money on repair, and more on accessories, then the car will become more of an affordable reality. This may be the wrong direction to go, so I am always looking for advice from everyone now, before I buy, later.
Again, thanks for the great articles.
Personally I would love to buy a newer Mexican Beetle. I was in touch with VW of Mexico when the last ones rolled off the production line but found out that there was no way to legally import them to North America. You even see some of them for sale on eBay that say titled in Mexico, which means it's your problem to get it titled up here. Good luck with that one! I've heard good things about Btlmex and they way that they make you a new Beetle by basicly rebuilding an old one with parts from a brand new classic Beetle. I've recently come across another company (http://www.goldenbeetle.com/) that takes a similar approach by completely rebuilding a US Beetle for you.
way a Beetle is a great choice as they are dependable, cheap to
maintain and by getting one for you son you'll be helping to keep
the air cooled spirit alive for another generation.
I've heard good things about Action Import, and I'll make sure that
I spread the word about the good service that you got. As far as
your brakes go, I've never driven a Bug that has had the disc conversion
done. Although that pedal does seem low and it looks as though you've
checked the common problem areas. Did the kit you got have a master
cylinder that was specific to disc brakes included or was it designed
to work with a stock master cylinder? I have heard of defective
new master cylinders in the past before too. I've also heard that
most suppliers recommend changes the rubber flex lines to stainless
if you have the old original ones on there. If these suggestions
don't help you might try asking the same question in our forum.
As far as what to look for in a purchase, we have a page in the Tech section about buying a used Beetle. Click "Tech" then "Restoration Corner" and select number 9.
I have a
74 Super Beetle and I am in the process of restoring it. The only
thing about this Beetle is that I can not get the shimmy out of
the front end. I notice by putting bigger tires, it helped a little
bit. But I like the low profile tires on the front. I have heard
that this is a common occurrence with Super Beetles. Any advice
would be greatly appreciated.
For submission to this page send your comments to superbeetles (at) icloud.com