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Julian's 1978 Super Beetle
Mine is not a story about restoration or endless amounts of money being spent on lowered suspension, fancy chrome engines or leather interiors. Instead this is a tale of a search for the holy grail - an original stock standard Karmann Beetle with very low miles and original right hand drive format (as I'm sure you know, we drive on the left over here in Australia.) As an aside, most Karmann Beetles were produced for either the US or European markets and hence left hand drive vehicles are relatively common place especially in Germany and the US. Right hand drive models were only made for the UK market and convertibles pre 1980 were not nearly as popular as they are now. I'd love to know, of the 331,000 Karmann Beetles built, how many were made in RHD format? I detract. The quest for such a beast started back in 2003 when we were posted to the UK. I made it my goal to find the best Karmann Beetle within my price range and I really did not relish the prospect of going down the restoration route. Now, to find a car of about 30 or more years of age in the UK without any form of rust is virtually impossible. The adverse weather particularly in the icy winter months necessitates a lot of salt on the roads and salt + rain/snow = rust!!I looked at many, many examples most of which either had the dreaded tin worm or had been restored in some way or other. Some looked great but could I rely on the gleaming new paintwork not concealing hidden horrors underneath? The answer was NO.
Against all odds the subject vehicle came onto the market. The asking price was much higher than I intended to pay but I took into account the fact that, in the UK, this model commands a lot of money even for 'average' condition examples. I weighed up the price against the potential of buying an average/good car and then spending a fortune on any form of restoration. It made sense to spend more than my budget and buy it, if it shaped up!!! The car was about a 4 hour drive from London so I arranged to meet up with a classic VW expert who worked at a garage local to the situation of the car. His fee for inspecting the car was invaluable. After spending an hour or so looking over the Bug from top to bottom he gave a big thumbs up with a huge grin on his face. He had just inspected a one owner 1978 Karmann Beetle with original Colibri green paint (L99Y), original silver hood, super clean engine and only 11,500 miles from new! It came with a complete history including detailed records of the annual mileage and an incredible amount of literature including every single quarterly edition of the Volkswagen Cabriolet owners club of Great Britain magazine from 1979. I subscribed to the mag and have every copy to date. See www.beetlecabrio.co.uk. This is a VERY rare car. I've seen many low mileage left hookers on trolling through eBay and other websites and magazines but never an original right hand drive with such an impeccable provenance. Anyway, I handed over a deposit and collected the car a few days later. The car has the original "GT'' sport wheel (M976) rims, steering wheel, Kamei front spoiler and Blaupunkt radio cassette. The hood lining and exterior are unblemished bought the car in 2004 and in 2005 it was shipped from the UK to Australia by the appropriately named Karman shipping Company. It arrived unscathed after it's 35 day voyage. The car has, under my ownership traveled a further 4,000 miles.
All the electrics work and it looks and drives like a one year old car. I have it serviced every 6 months regardless of mileage traveled. It now stands at 15,500 and only comes out from under it's cover and dehumidified garage for shows and special occasions. It is a multi award winner at VW shows here and in the UK. This year it won top spot in it's class for the 3rd year running (best 1971 onward) at the most prestigious and highly attended car show in Queensland, the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland event in Brisbane. (www.racq.com.au/about_us/community/events/motorfest) That brings me on to my other passion, I collect anything and everything to do with VW Karmann Beetles. I have a collection (TV featured) of about 230 items including every make of scale model, pin badges, jewelry, toys, Disney and cartoon character items, unmade kits, books, silk tie,jigsaw puzzle. You name it, I've got it (I think). All in mint or top condition!!!! So there we are, I'm a VW Karmann Beetle nut and proud of it!