Affordable Classic Cars – The Volkswagen Beetle
The Volkswagen Beetle is one of the most instantly recognizable vehicles ever made. Many people do not know that the original Beetle design was actually based on prototypes designed by Ferdinand Porsche (yes, that Porsche), who was commissioned by Adolf Hitler to create “The People’s Car”. Hitler was looking for an affordable car that could be maintained easily and that civilians could drive on the newly developed Autobahn.
After WWII, Britain was given control of the Volkswagen factory, which had suffered significant damage after being heavily bombed during battle. In fact, an unexploded bomb nearly destroyed a lot of irreplaceable tooling. Thankfully, the bomb was safely removed following WWII . Initially, the factory was to be dismantled and sent to whichever British automaker was most interested in the acquisition, however, no British car company was interested. British Army officer Major Ivan Hirst is credited with taking control of the factory and persuading the British military to commission 20,000 automobiles, thus saving Volkswagen from certain doom.
Nearly 1,800 Type 1 cars were manufactured in 1945 following Hirst’s rescue of the factory. Hirst’s realization that the British army needed vehicles nearly as badly as German citizens needed jobs kept Volkswagen in business. The official name of these early Beetles was the Volkswagen Type 1. By 1949, Volkswagen had shipped its first car to America, still officially named the Type 1, but colloquially referred to as the Beetle.
By the mid 1950s, Volkswagen had manufactured over a million cars led by Heinz Nordhoff, who gained control of Volkswagen in 1949 and increased production dramatically. In 1955, the Beetle was unrivaled in its category in top speed and fuel consumption.
In the 1950s, the Volkswagen began making progressive modifications to the design of the car. 1950 saw the first production of convertible Beetles. Aside from the convertible option, the earliest changes mostly involved the rear windows. In 1957, the oval rear window was altogether replaced by a much bigger one that allowed a much wider view.
1953 – 1957 Volkswagen Beetle
This model Beetle is known for its singular oval rear window, high quality steel a hand-made W emblem on the front of the bonnet which stood for Wolfsburg. Small modifications and changes were made over the years, but for the most part the car remained very unchanged. Pictured below, a 1966 VW Beetle.
In 1967, Volkswagen made significant updates to the Beetle design. The engine size was increased for the second consecutive year, increasing to 52 horsepower. Other noteworthy changes:
- Generator output doubled to 360 watts
- Engine improvements increased torque to 10.8kg-m at 2,000 rpm
- Generator upgraded to a 12 volt system ( previously was a 6 volt system)
- Increased clutch disk size
- Improvements made to brakes and flywheel
- Windshield wipers, drivers arm rest and other interior changes were made standard options
The Super Beetle
In the early 1970s, Volkswagen introduced a new Beetle with a completely redesigned front end featuringtured a MacPherson strut suspension. The car was officially known as the VW 1302 in 1971 and 1972 and then the 1303 in 1973 and onward, most people called it the Super Beetle. A new “stretched nose” design modernized the body, improved trunk space and resulted in a tighter turning radioase. Cargo space in the front compartment also doubled.
Depending on the year, condition, and desirability of that particular model, classic Beetles go anywhere from $5 – 20k on the classic car market. Of course, if you’re willing to do some restorations, you can get them for as cheap as a few thousand dollars. But, be prepared to get your hands dirty if you pick up a fixer upper.
We Can Rechrome That!
Of course, if you get a true fixer-upper, there’s likely going to be some rust. Fear not – Blackburn Wheels specializes in bumper rechroming and other parts rechroming as well. Although the above picture might be a little much, we’d surely give it a try! We also specialize in antique hubcaps for classic cars of all makes and models. Blackburn’s Wheels is your one stop solution for wheels, hubcaps, and a lot more!