From 1938 through 2003, Volkswagen Type 1s rolled off assembly lines on five continents, and they sold very well in the United States well into the 1970s. I see many of them in my junkyard travels, but many more have gone unphotographed to The Crusher.
Now that I see only a few discarded air-cooled Beetles each year, I’m making more of an effort to document them. Here’s a ’73 Super Beetle in a Denver yard.
The Super Beetle was a stopgap attempt at modernization by Volkswagen; an effort to update the car’s 1930s design while the company got its new water-cooled cars ready for production. The main difference between a regular Beetle and a Super Beetle may be seen in the Super Beetle’s front suspension, which uses McPherson struts instead of the old-timey torsion-bar suspension.
In back, a 1600cc air-cooled flat-four engine rated at 60 horsepower. These cars were quite slow and the handling was funky, even by 1972 standards, but they got the job done well enough.
Volkswagen introduced the Computer Diagnostic System in 1972, installing a data plug in each Beetle’s engine compartment.
This car still has its Sapphire XI factory AM radio, just the thing for listening to 1972’s greatest hits over the clattery engine noise.
The well-faded Denver Board of Water Commissioners decal on the smoker’s vent window suggests that this car spent most of its life in Colorado.
Air-cooled VWs rust quickly, even in dry/salt-free areas, but this one appears to be very solid.
More than 20,000,000 Type I Beetles were made by the time Mexican production halted in 2003. Here’s the celebration for #18,000,000.