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VW Beetle (Original)

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      30.08.2010 19:16
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      A reliable car at the time

      There are some cars who pass through this word without turning heads or causing a stir, the original VW Beetle isn't once of those. The slightly rotund shape and cute approachable front on view of the car, made the car more than just something that got you from A to B. The VW Beetle had so much personality that you couldn't fail to love it even with all its faults.

      Our VW Beetle was circa 1966 so truly 'old skool', it had none of your new fangled central locking or immobilisers fitted. It had a 6 volt battery, which was rather inadequate for the cars power needs. This meant a transformer had to be fitted to allow us to fit a modern stereo system into the car, as prior to that the car just had a very basic MW/ LW radio.

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      Due to the poor 6 volt battery, the lights on the car were very dim. If you wanted to venture out into the countryside on a moonless night, you would have had more chance seeing where you were going, by strapping a couple of torches to the front of the car, rather than relying on the actual headlamps. This was very inconvenient and dangerous.

      The fuel consumption of the car was ridiculous even though fuel prices at the time were cheaper. The mpg for the car sat at around 24mpg on a good day, which is very poor when compared to todays cars. Even at the time when we owned the car in the mid 80's, that was still considered very poor. This was from a standard petrol engine.

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      Talking of engines, it was one of the first engines that was made from modern alloy metals. It was air cooled and had a timing chain, which made it more reliable than belt driven engines. The engine was placed at the back of the car where you would normally expect the boot to be and the boot was at the front along with spare tyre.

      The engine was very noisy and had a very distinctive sound that was more the kind of thing you would have heard from a large engined motorbike. The engine didn't seem to use much oil and ran well, on the whole this made the car very reliable to drive if rather noisy.

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      The steering was quite light as most of the weight was located towards the rear of the car, there was no power steering, yet the car was easy enough to park. The gear box was very responsive and easy to use. The gears slipped in and out with ease and no obvious crunch or whine.

      The view from the drivers seat was nice and clear at the front, although the rear tailgate window was small and so rather restrictive. We didn't have electric windows and had to wind these up or down by hand. Leg room in the car was good at the front, both driver and front passenger could stretch out and travel in style ,where as the poor sods in the rear had to make do with what little space was left to them.

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      The exterior of the car was rather prone to body rust, especially around the large over sized wheel arches. This is something which is common with many of the VW Beetles of this age on not just with this one. The panels used on the cars exterior felt solid and wouldn't flex if you leant against them.

      The suspension on the car was good and you could even take the car off road as it had more than enough spring to it to cope with road humps and bumps. The cars paint work was not as glossy as the paints that are found on todays cars, but it suited the car at the time.

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      To sum up the original VW Beetle I have to say that it was a very basic car which had lots of character. It offered a reliable drive with basic comfort for front seat passengers. The fuel consumption was not all that great either.

      To give the car a rating I feel that it ought to get a 3 star rating, as the poor battery power, which effected the cars head lights was a major issue. There were blind spots for the driver because of the small tailgate window and the design of the car could feel claustrophobic with too many passengers inside it.

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        19.06.2010 14:38
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        A fun first car and cheap to run

        At 17 years of age this was the best thing to come into my life,my first car! Mine was a 1971 red 1300 model with flat screen and a black plastic interior all in great condition considering its age back in the mid 80s when I owned it.Why a Beetle? Well its a typical students car and has a bit of street cred,a motoring icon,a car that sold around the world in its millions so easy to get parts and someone else will always want it when I am done with it.Ok so that Nazi Professor Porsche designed it but its no performer,the slowest thing on four wheels I have ever driven.It took along time to get it up to motorway speed and almost as long to stop it! I just didn't go out of my way to go on the motorway,simple.It was fine for going to school,taking my friends out and driving for fun,not fast.It was built like a truck,1930s design,very heavy,my first bump was a slow speed knock with a 70s Ford Granada and it didn't even bend the bumper! The doors were so thick,you had to slam them due to the air pressure in the cabin (near perfect seal,air tight),winding a window down made closing the door easier,apparently they float on water!
        Idiot proof maintenance,aircooled so no need to add water,just top up the oil now and again,thats it.Tyres were from the former GDR at £10 each in my day and a fitted exhaust (there is not much of it as engine lives in the back) was £20.I had no end of people wanting to buy it,knocking on our door even,red was a great coulour and I used to polish the pride and joy every week to keep it looking good.Cost me £425 from a student nurse with full MOT and 6 months tax! I had it for a year or two sold it on for more,noisey,not that comfortable,heater either burning hot or cold,misted up badly,dodgy brakes,poor headlamps,windscreen washer worked off spare tyre pressure so regularly stopped working at a critical moment,I could go on and on naming faults but I just did not care! I loved my Beetle and was very sad to see it go.Next car was a newish Vauxhall Nova,not the same really.The old Beetle is still a cult car and now highly collectable,a decent one could cost £1000s.

        Thanks for reading my review and I hope you found it interesting.If this has been useful to you and you take time to leave Your rating it will be appreciated and hope you will take a look at my other reviews sometime.I also leave reviews on the Ciao website about this and other items,many thanks!

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          08.04.2009 17:04
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          Keep the VW spirit alive :)

          The VW Beetle (the original one!) is perhaps one of the most iconic cars of all time.

          Nowadays, it represents a free spirited individual, not always a hippy, and someone that is after something that little bit different. It reminds people of the sixties, flower power, and festivals - a time when things were brighter in colour and outlook. It is often linked to surfing as well, a classic picture of the Beetle is of it on a beach at sunset with the surfboards on the roof.

          The Beetle was made by Volkswagen, which means "People's Car" in german, and linked to Adolf Hitler who asked Ferdinand Porsche (the owner of Porsche) to develop a car for the average family. The finance for building came from the Third Reich, and the earliest productions of the car in 1931 that would develop into the Beetle were used as military vehicles during the Second World War. The earliest Beetles produced for civilian use were mainly for the use of the Nazi Elite during 1940 - 1945, in Germany.

          The first Beetle sold in the UK was in 1953, but the name "Beetle" was never officially used in Britain. The car was always known by its model number; 1200, 1300, 1303 etc. There are different designs of the car: The Split Oval, The Oval, Cabriolet, ones with sunroofs, ones with larger back windows and ones with curved windscreens (the 1303), but they all revolve around the basic template of smooth wings, running boards along the sides, and the engine in the back. There are various engine sizes, but the most common is the 1300cc engine.

          Depending on the year of the car, there are different shaped engine lids, longer bonnets, various different shapes for the headlamps and tail lights, and different styles of interior front seats. Also there are different colour combinations for the paint, interior and running boards.

          I own a 1972 Beetle, which I have had for nearly four years now, and I would never ever part with it. Yes - it has its quirks; the heating doesn't work as the on/off controller broke and it was on permanently so in the summer I had to disconnect all the pipework, and never got around to reconnecting it for the winter (thank god its almost summer again), bad earth wires can do very funny things with your electrics, there is always an oil leak coming from somewhere, and you can say bye bye to modern things such as automatic wipers (the Beetle doesn't even have an intermittent setting), indicators that click off automatically, fog lights and reversing lights! But despite all these things - I will never drive anything else. The car brings a smile to my face every time I drive it, and it brings smiles to other drivers too. It stands out from the hundreds of other cars on the road and is a refreshing change to see a little Beetle storming along amongst the silver and black business cars that seem to dominate the roads these days.

          The Beetle has its engine in the rear of the car, with the battery housed under the back seat. This is a bit of a pain to get to when you are in a hurry, as you have to manoeuvre the seat out of the car first, and there isn't a lot of room! The engine is air cooled as opposed to modern water cooled engines, which means air circulation and adequate ventilation in the summer is a must to prevent overheating. The engine lids do have vents on them, but I also have the lid raised slightly away from the car (on what are called Stand Offs) to help get the air moving. Personally I have never had a problem with the car cutting out in hot weather, it is normally cold weather that is the problem!

          The engine is simple to maintain, it's easy to find the spark plugs and change the oil, the one good thing about this car is that everything is accessible to the budding mechanic. There is a great book (essential for any Beetle owner) by John Muir called "How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive For Complete Idiots" which gives idiot proof guidance on mechanical tasks and helps diagnose and fix any problems you may come across. I have done many a thing myself to the car, using the book as guidance and have saved myself a packet on garage fees!

          Speaking of garages, if you have one of these lovely cars I would advise taking it to an air-cooled vw specialist as they really do have the knowledge required to get the best out of your car. My nearest garage is half hour drive away, which is a pain when you are driving with a mechanical problem, but I know that they have the tools to fix it properly. Also sourcing parts can be a problem if you take it to a mainstream garage as they do not know where to get them from. Parts are widely available from such online places as VW Heritage, Cool Air, German and Swedish, and eBay for those harder to get or second hand parts. My steering wheel came off eBay, second hand for £40 whereas new they cost over £200!

          Rust can be a problem with these older cars, so it's important you tackle any rust spots as soon as they appear. You can buy parts that are fibreglass, such as doors and wings, to prevent rust forming but these can be seriously expensive. So long as you use a rust treatment as soon as you see it you will be OK.

          There are shows up and down the country held especially for air-cooled vehicles, where you can get together with like minded people and chill out for the weekend with barbeques and fun. Some of these are Bug Jam, Run To The Sun and Big Bang. For some of the shows they hold a "Run What You Brung" event where you can take your very own Beetle down the race strip! If your car is a daily driver though I wouldn't advise it - I've seen people do some serious damage by racing it and instead of taking their owners to work on the Monday morning the car has been towed to the garage with a hefty repair bill attached to it.

          Overall I would totally recommend a Beetle to anyone thinking of buying one. Yes they have their problems, and yes you will be hit with repairs bills, but that's the price you have to pay in exchange for the cool car and smiles and points from other drivers. If you're Beetle was born before 1973, at least you can offset the free car tax against the repair bills!!

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            09.06.2007 21:51
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            What a wonderful car

            Ok you VW fans out there, I am going to tell you about my lovely 1969 beetle called Bluebell.

            I have always wanted one ever since I went to the vw festival in Margam park last year (2006) after seeing all the bugs and camper vans I fell in love.

            My dear husband said that if I was to sell my car I could have one for my 30th birthday, so I put my car on eBay and sold it straight away, then we had a look in the free ads and came across a bug and phoned the guy immediately and went straight up there.

            We made our way to Cardiff and law and behold we got lost (typical husband) by this time it was getting really late and concerned that the bloke might not appreciate us going to see it so late, but he was a very nice and agreed to meet us in a shopping park.

            We didn’t wait too long when we heard a loud noise coming from the distance, it was music to my ears, as it came closer I could see it, it was MY BUG .

            I couldn’t have been more thrilled, it was metallic blue and in perfect condition -which is very rare for a 1969 beetle, it had been well looked after, now I am not an expert to say the least but was advised previously before hand by a friend of ours (who has a beetle) that if the body underneath was rusty then stay away, and other things too.

            After good examination and a test drive- which I have to say was hard, because if you haven’t driven an old car before (without power steering) then it is hard. We took the baby home, or should I say my husband drove it as I wasn’t used to driving it yet.

            We woke up next day and was really excited at the thought of a bug was sitting in my drive.

            My car has:

            Alloy wheels
            1.2 litre engine
            Recaro seats.
            It has carpets .
            Lowered suspension.
            Zoom tube (exhaust)

            There isn’t much you can say anything much about it other than it has no rust and it purrrrrrrrs like a kitten a very large one lol.

            Bad points

            The only downfall I have with it is that it has no seatbelts in the back, so I couldn’t travel with kids at all, which is something I am planning on doing in the next few months, so in the meantime my husband has been driving it to work and I have at to have courtesy shit car (due to my car accident) instead.

            Good points.

            Are that is very cheap on petrol, its is tax exempt and only costs me £100 a year insurance.

            I am now looking forward to the next VW festival in Margam park in August and this time I will be taking my own little cherub with me, My little Bluebell.

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              19.10.2001 00:10
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              After seeing my dad restoring his own VW Beetle, I had caught the bug. I knew that my first car had to be a Vee Dub. I now own my own 1973 Volkswagen Beetle, 1303 model. It is my first car, I love it, and use it every day to get me to work, uni and see my friends. VW made several models of the classic beetle, and regularly updated the practical features of the cars over the years, however they made a point of never changing the styling simply for the sake of change. The original models had small engines of 1200cc, until the 1300cc version was added to the range in the '60s. Later came a more powerful 1500 in addition to the others. These models were all based on a torsion bar front suspension system, which is renowned for its poor handling. However, the comfort level on normal roads is reasonable, especially considering the age of some of these cars. The 1302 model (often referred to as the Super Beetle) was released at the start of the 1970s. This featured a completely new front suspension system, incorporating 'Macpherson Strut' style springs instead of the torsion bars. The rear suspension now used 'IRS' - Independent Rear Suspension. These upgrades drastically improved the car's handling. It also menat that the front boot-space could be increased in size, although the changed design meant a slightly more bulbous look from the front, which many did not like after being used to the same basic shape of the original beetle. My model of car is the 1303 (Super Beetle), which further improved on the 1302 model and began production in August 1972. This version of the popular Beetle came with a curved windscreen, proper dashboard, larger tail lights and improved cabin space. Both the 1302 and 1303 models had 1300 engines, however an 'S' model (ie 1303S) was also available which included front disc brakes, and a 1600 engine. The 1200 (budget) models continued production alongside the 1302/3 models, but still use
              d the original basic beetle shape and suspension. I would recommend anyone who is an enthusiast to purchase an old-style beetle. They are fun to drive and, despite popular belief, surprisingly inexpensive to maintain - I would know, I'm a student! It does, however, help if you are able to carry out repairs yourself or know someone who can. As with anything that is almost 30 years old, some things will and do occasionally go wrong. My advice would be to spend a bit more initially and buy a car that someone else has spent the time and money on. This way, you are less likely to have things going wrong. Watch out for very rusty cars that seem 'a good project' - often they are a waste of time and money, unless you are looking for an older (pre 1965) model which can be quite rare, and are viewed as a 'classic' car. These will be more desirable and fetch a higher price if you sell it in future. I would also say to try and buy a car which is tax exempt (built before 1973). You will save a lot of money this way through not having to pay road tax. The later the model of car you are buying, the more sophisticated it will be. Many of the idiosyncrasies such as filling the fuel tank from the front boot are removed and the cost of repairs tend to be cheaper. Fuel consumption of the Beetles is not at all bad, considering the age of these cars. 30mpg is what I achieve on average - this is the same, if not better, than most of the New Beetle models. Yes, old Beetles can be quite noisy, but the sound of that wonderful aircooled flat-four engine is music to my ears. As for comfort, they are quite cramped in the rear seats, however for sitting in the front they can be surprisingly comfy (depending on the age of the car, and how many miles it has covered). Many find the driving position and pedals awkward - I would just call it different. After about four short journeys, in my opinion the floor hinged pedals feel completely natural and no
              t at all uncomfortable. In conclusion, I would definately recommend buying an old-style beetle. They are great fun and very different to the other, boring cars on the road today. If you don't fancy the work involved in maintaining a very old car, you can still buy brand-new old-style beetles in right-hand-drive from the UK, which are specially imported from the VW factory in Mexico that produces them. They come complete with fairly powerful fuel-injected 1600cc aircooled engines. They cost about the same as any other new small car, however they will hold about 80% of their value after three years, as depreciation rates are minimal. Do it - buy one. You know you want to catch the bug too!

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                11.03.2001 13:28
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                The Volkswagen type 1 better known as the Beetle. A two door four seater car with the engine in the boot! The engine came in several sizes, the range included the 1200 1300 1500 and 1600. The most common engine was the 1300 which came in two versions depending on year of manufacture. I’ve had three VW Beetles all of them 1300 versions (I did put a 1500 engine into the first Beetle I had). I fell in love with the shape of the car and I suppose that is why I perservered with them because looking back the cars were not particularly reliable(proably due to their age). Any major work on the engine was far easier with the engine removed from the car which, fortunately was a relatively simple task to do (the engine is fitted with four 17mm nuts to the gearbox). The car is quite small inside, with two adults sat in the front your shoulders are almost touching. The first thing I noticed sat in the driving position was the fact that all the pedals are hinged at the floor which can be awkward for some people to use, secondly the floor pan at the front is curved similar to the bows of a boat so the foot position can be difficult to master. Next to the hand brake which is floor mounted in the centre are two levers which control the heater (don’t ask me which one does what because in all my beetles the cables had corroded through-no heat!) The instrument panel consists of a speedo and fuel gauge. Once the car is on the move it is not a bad drive, the brakes by todays standard are non existent (no servo) All of the cars I had had brake drums all round. I changed the front brakes to disc at the front which vastly improved the braking but is still not up to the same standard as todays cars. The turning circle of the car is not very good I remember driving in Wales and I had to reverse up to get arround a bend. All in all this is not a car I would recommend to anyone unless they are a true enthusiast. The car needs regular servicing
                (oil change every 3000miles) and is certainly not as easy to drive as the new small cars that are about. For all their faults I loved my Beetles and I would have another (but not as everyday transport).

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                16.07.2000 21:33
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                Seeing as I'm not a car person, and never will be, I certainly seem to have owned nearly every 'popular' classic, and paid the price in doing so. I bought a brand new, red, shiny original Beetle in the seventies, and hated every second driving it. The foot controls were in such an awkward position, that I had to hang my feet in the air, poised for action, with resulting ankle ache. The noise of the air cooled engine was mind blowing. Those who knew would tell me it had been 'run in on the bench' which meant nothing to me at all. Though I now gather it meant something to do with the engine, as cars used to have a sticker in the rear window telling other motorists, they were driving slowly as they were 'running in!' Bit like a man with a red flag walking in front of it. The seats were horrendously uncomfortable for driver and passengers, though somehow or other I used to squeeze a carry-cot, complete with baby, into the back seat.....poor kid, she's still alive to tell the tale about me and cars! Worst of all, the petrol tank had to be filled from within the front bonnet (where the engine should have been). The bonnet stuck shut so many times, with an empty petrol tank, and no way of getting to it, that those were the years I formed such a close relationship with the AA, and due to my misfortune of owning so many of these types of cars, a relationship that has lasted to this day!!! At that time, owning an original Beetle had no prestige attached to it. That's only happened in later years, and in my opinion, a very misplaced over romanticised notion indeed. My then husband, was driving the Beetle along the Brighton Road and had a bad accident and wrote the car off. Inflation must have been gathering force then, or the price of imported cars had increased, but whatever, we got more from the Insurance Company than we'd paid for it a year earlier. Wit
                h the money we bought a brand new maroon Vauxhall, but that's another car story.......

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