Volkswagen sold the air-cooled Beetle in the United States all the way through 1979, amazingly, overlapping Dasher and Rabbit sales by more than you’d have expected. By that time, the only air-cooled VW left standing here was the Beetle convertible (if you want to get nit-picky, that car was really a Super Beetle, since the last year for the original not-so-super Beetle was 1977 here and all the Beetle convertibles were Supers after 1971). I’ve never found a ’79 Beetle in the junkyard, though I’ve tried my best, but here’s the next-best thing: a ’78 in a Denver self-serve yard last year.
This car’s final parking place ended up being next to a Turbo New Beetle and a purple ’76 non-Super Beetle. One must assume that the junkyard employees had a sense of style.
Junkyard shoppers generally grab air-cooled VW engines right away … but I suspect this may be the result of a single VW hoarder in every metropolitan region around the continent.
The most important difference between the regular 1938-style Beetle and the Super Beetle may be seen in the front suspension; the original Beetle had a funky torsion-bar suspension while the Super got a modern McPherson strut rig. Having owned and driven both types of Beetles, I must say that neither the ride nor the handling feels any better in the Super.
While the Beetle was strongly obsolete by about 1951, it managed to get its job done for many decades after that. By the late 1970s, though, there was no affordable way to squeeze it through American crash-safety and emissions requirements.
It will go to its grave with a Stone Temple Pilots home-taped cassette inside.
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