Volkswagen Super Beetle — Volkswagen 1302

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Volkswagen 1302

History of the Super Beetle

and photography by Wayne Dean

the Volkswagen Beetle was selling one million units per year in the Early in 1968 Heinz the chairman of Volkswagen AG, was seriously ill but then knew that the of the company could not rely on the Beetle forever. The Type 3 Fastback and Squareback were not the grace that they thought to be and something would to be done soon. Sadly, passed away April 12, before the new Type 4s (also as the 411 and 412) could come to another series that missed the mark for Volkswagen. Nordhoff’s passing, Kurt took over the helm of which at that time was a ship without a rudder. was a lot of uncertainty at Volkswagen as they orders for the Beetle start to

U.S. automakers had learned a few from Volkswagen, which had applied to their latest in the compact car market. The new Chevrolet and Ford Pinto gave car buyers the price, room and economy that was needed at a when gas prices were steadily. The Japanese had also major competition for Volkswagen. all the attention that had been the Japanese imports, Road and magazine did a head to head between the Beetle and the Toyota Unfortunately for Volkswagen the Corolla did it all and for less money too. was embarrassing for Volkswagen as the Beetle in every category except for its charming personality.

Until the new front wheel drive (Rabbit is the USA) was in production, VW to re-work the Beetle and bring it up to the being set by other car manufacturers. The was to reduce the price of the standard and introduce a new updated model, a Beetle. The principal reasons for the of the Super Beetle was to increase the of the vehicle by providing the customer a larger luggage compartment and comfort. These factors just as important some 30 ago as they are today. By providing luggage space, greater utility and comfort, the Super gave Volkswagen customers choice in the model range of the and greater choice in the market

The decision to produce the Super was going to be a costly one. before had Volkswagen spent so time or money on the Beetle. The new design required a new chassis and panel in the front end had to be redesigned as This meant new rounder a larger wider hood, front valance, a new spare well, changes to other of the body and new inner fenders to the mounting of the new struts. This be the most costly and extensive of the Beetle since it was first It was said that if Heinz was around, the new Super Beetle have never been

The newly designed Beetle was to be the 1302 Super Beetle. The designation was chosen due to the fact car manufacturer Simca already had a that was called the 1301. The Beetle was to be sold in North with a carbureted 1600cc engine and available in Europe the 1600c and a 1300cc version as To define the 1600cc model the 1300cc in Europe, an S was added, the Beetle with the larger the 1302S. Planned for release in 1970 the new sales brochure And now the new VW 1302S. The 1600cc Super The most powerful, most and most comfortable Beetle

For the first time in the history of the the spare tire was stored in a recessed wheel well the cargo area in the front floor. The jack was moved to the rear seat and the air pressure windshield washer bottle was to the right inner fender. changes resulted in 9 cubic of storage in the trunk, an increase of When this new space was to the storage area behind the seat, the Beetle finally had the capacity that people The new 1600cc and 1300cc engines dual port cylinder for better performance. And to help the problem of keeping the number cylinder cool, an external oil was added and the tinwork was redesigned to more fresh air in. The rear lid was increased in size to accommodate the new engine and had two banks of five cut into it to help keep the new plant cool. Crescent-shaped air trimmed with a silver edge were added the rear windows. These were part of the new flow ventilation system that was to ensure adequate fresh air to the Another nice touch was the of a passenger side vanity to the sun visor. These small were part of what hoped the public was looking

Part of Volkswagen’s master was to bring the handling and ride of the up to North American standards improved front suspension and rear trailing arms. strut-coil springs were with transverse control and a better turning radius was one of the This strut front also offered precise and a comfortable ride. This of independent front suspension was by a number of manufacturers at the time and to be used widely to this The new suspension was lighter than the torsion-beam design, the inner were now heavier and the anti-roll bar was much larger. The chassis head had to be substantially modified and flatter to accommodate the new suspension This suspension setup was to that used on the Type 4 In the rear, double-jointed half were introduced. These formerly only available on the with the semi-automatic transmission. The would now handle more a Ford than a Beetle.

The Super Beetle sedan off the assembly line on August 11, for the 1971 model year, which some 700,000 manufactured at Volkswagen plants in and Emden. The 1302 sold well despite Volkswagen giving it mixed reviews, comments like ugly, bulging and pregnant. With air conditioning for only $267.00 and a transmission for an additional $139.00, the was now offering creature comforts would help boost Having Volkswagen’s excellent for quality and value dating to the 1950s didn’t hurt either.

The 1970s were the beginning of the special edition With models such as the Bug, Sun Bug, Love Fun Bug, Winter Bug, La Bug, Champagne Bug and overseas, the Big and City models. One special for 1971 was the Jubilee Beetle, over twenty million Volkswagen sales worldwide. was one of the first special editions were based on the standard and the 1302 Super Beetle. than 35 different special Beetles were to follow, even more being in Mexico today. 1971 meant the end of the standard Beetle Until production ended in 1980 all convertibles produced be of the Super Beetle variety.

1972. Volkswagen was busy the Super Beetle with a full color sales with a cover that The Super Beetle. The older it the better it gets. The 1302 was in seven colors while the Beetle came in only colors and had a 4 page black and sales brochure. The second of the Super Beetle brought it some changes to the already new To increase visibility the rear was enlarged by 4 cm or 11%. This was to be the time that the rear was enlarged and now compared to a Split or Oval window Beetle the glass was now massive. The wiper was moved to the right side of the column for convenience and the vents in the engine lid were increased in Volkswagens’ obsession with the engine cool now required a 26 louvers. These were in four unequal banks at the top of the engine lid.

Continuing strategy of offering people luxury, there was now a shelf behind the rear seat. cover could be hidden or extended over the rear area in an effort to keep away from prying A new flat design 4 spoke steering wheel was added to the This was to help prevent in case of an accident and came with the Wolfsburg emblem in the To help keep the flow ventilation draught free, a of vents where added to the complete with tiny regulators. Back in the engine a diagnosis plug was installed. would encourage the customer to their Beetle back to local VW dealer for service. The could then hook the up to a special (VW only) computer automatically check a number of on the car and print out a report.

On February 1972 the 15,007,034th Beetle was Volkswagen had now claimed the world record for the most produced make of car in history. It was a 1302 Beetle that took the beating the 60-year-old record set by the model T. This was an important in automotive history and that car was donated by Volkswagen to the Smithsonian in Washington DC for permanent display in the section. In recognition of this occasion Volkswagen equipped six Super Beetles with a metallic paint scheme, 10 spoke pressed steel and gave it the title of Marathon This European only was the World Champion or Der Weltmeister as it was in Germany. The Super Beetle was the winner and was also being in South Africa though of these vehicles were exported.

In the U.S. Volkswagen 1,000 units called the Champion SE. This model was to the Baja off-road race from 1967 to 1971.The title came from the races that are held year in the Baja California of Mexico. The fact that the Champion edition was a 1302 was because any Beetle that have competed in this would have used the and true torsion bar front end had been in service on the standard Volkswagen since 1935. For any Volkswagen purchaser that lucky enough to get one of these production Baja’s you could buy the option package for $129.95. for that low price were body decals with the name, mag wheel style hub a special shifter, Bosch fog for the front bumper, walnut trim for the dashboard, bumper and chrome taper exhaust

1973. The cover of the 8-page brochure for the Super Beetle The ’73 Beetle. All small are not created equal, a fact Volkswagen had proven with of constant improvements to the Beetle. The that took place the 1302 were just the in the plans to modernize the Beetle. In Volkswagen took a huge forward with the introduction of a new and Super Beetle called the Most of the changes that had place on the Beetle were for function and style, but a new windshield was for completely different reasons. To with proposed U.S. regulations regarding the distance passengers and the front windshield, introduced the new sharply curved glass to the 1303. This windshield gave a remarkable 42% in visibility and improved the aero of the car as well. It also caused a in the shape of the front hood and the The new shortened hood lost its VW circle logo and gave the car a look in the transformation.

The 1973 Beetle had VW purists rubbing eyes when a redesigned, sized, padded dashboard the traditional flat one that had inside the Beetle since This new dashboard was designed to future air bags and to improve inside the car. By using an air channel that stretched side to side near the windshield a greater volume of and heated air could be delivered to the The single gauge still but now was housed in a plastic binnacle in of the driver. Other switches moved downward, directly with the radio and right at the fingertips. The glove box in the new 1303 was a size but for some reason was into smaller compartments. for coffee drinkers everywhere the box lid would no longer open to double as a beverage tray. was also a new fuse box located for easy access in case of an failure. In the rear of the Beetle the largest taillights ever on a Volkswagen, and most likely any car of that era. These earned the nickname elephant’s in VW circles and were thought to be compared to the stylish tombstone that preceded them.

One special edition for 1973 was the Sports Beetle. For an additional this 1303 Super came with distinctive red and stripes that encircled the The tapered tail pipe trim, door handles, and bumpers were all given a black finish and 5 ½ Lemmertz GT wheels with tires were installed to the package. The Sport Bug’s brochure featured black rings although some of the were fitted with the chrome ones. The interior with sports bucket a leather sports steering and gearshift knob, how sporty!


The new and Super Beetle was also produced outside of Germany. its importer UNIS, Volkswagenwerk AG set up the venture TAS Tvornica Automobila in Yugoslavia, with its headquarters in TAS started off by manufacturing replacement and parts for Volkswagen. After a of one year, on November 10th, assembly of the 1303 model in the new factory. Production capacity was a 20 cars per day. Meanwhile in the 1302 had been produced 1971 to 1972 and was called the S. The 1973 to 1975 Australian 1303 was called the Volkswagen L; all had motors with front brakes as standard equipment.

1974. The last Beetle off the production line in Wolfsburg to room for the new Golf model. As Volkswagen brought out a few more for the Super Beetle. U.S. now required that every car be to withstand a 5 mph front and a 2½ mph impact, and sustain no damage. To with this new hurtle added what were self-restoring energy absorbing Impact-absorbing shocks were to the now thicker steel front and bumpers to accomplish this To ensure the front occupants wearing their seat an ignition interlock was installed so the car could not be started unless the seat belts were Some inventive owners out that this system was easy to disable by merely the sensors under both seats, so much for technology! To handling under hard the Super Beetle now had a negative offset. Also in 1974 the old generator was finally replaced a modern alternator and new type of was used to improve the cylinder life.

The 16 page sales featured both standard and Beetles. On the cover was a picture of a red Beetle floating in the ocean the caption, The VW Beetles. Built than ever. This be another year for the special with the introduction of the famous Sun Available in standard, 1303 and convertible models, the Sun Bug was painted a Hellas Metallic Gold and fully loaded. Stamped sports wheels, Kamei console, a sunroof with deflector (Sedan only) and finish dash panels just some of the goodies came with this edition. The seats had special Nut upholstery, as did the matching door, panels and loop pile There was a Sun Bug logo on the gearshift and one that was installed on the engine lid by the dealer. The sales brochure for the Sun Bug had the words to a song written for the car entitled Let a little sunshine your life by Keith The lyrics for the song went this;

Fresh air and scenery. all there and it’s all free. your eyes, it’s to see.

Let a little sunshine your life!

Keep disposition from draggin’ in a Sun Bug from Volkswagen.

Even a short trip set your a waggin’.

Let a little sunshine your life.

Sun Bug Beetle or Beetle opens up a window to the

Sun Bug convertible goes the whole so you can wave at the world as you go by.

Volkswagen 1302

Great gas easy on the world’s ecology. the Sun Bug philosophy.

Smile your way problems and strife and let a little into your life.

Why song never made it to #1 remain one of life’s little

Improvements were once in order for the Super Beetle in The worm and roller steering box was by modern rack and pinion and improvements in the rear end geometry made. The engine case now be made from a better classified as AS21 and the twin pipes that had been on the since 1956 had now become one.

Again U.S. forced Volkswagen and other car to clean up their act pollution Unleaded gas would be the new diet for the Beetle as computerized Bosch fuel injection was added. boosted the Beetles fuel from 25 to 33 mpg. A silver Injection logo was added to the engine lid where the traditional script had been for years. produced for California sported a converter under the now bulging apron, and pretty soon all the would require one.

produced a number of special Beetles as well. One of which was the La Grande Bug. This Beetle was basically a reworked Sun minus the logos and some of the The sales brochure for this one exclaimed, You don’t drive in it, you in it with a picture of a uniformed in front of an elegant mansion with two La Grande Bugs, one its sliding steel sunroof

Sales for the Beetle had dropped by half in 1975, from the previous year to only and it didn’t look like it was to get any better. Although this may seem like a huge of cars compared to today’s figures, Volkswagen had been over 900,000 Beetles since 1964 in the U.S. In February 1975 Tony took over as chairman of and decided to end production of the 1303 and direct more resources to the products. Only the Super convertible and a standard Beetle were to continue and for how long was guess.

In September 1975 the new Gti debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Its powerful water-cooled 1600cc put out 110bhp. That was more double the horsepower of the Super It seemed that the writing was on the for the European production of the Beetle, as plants were needed to the newer models that had based their future on.

The 1303 sedan had faded history but the 1303 Super convertible remained. The MacPherson suspension, full sized panel and panoramic windshield characterized the Super Beetle continued on in the convertible. In 1976 were very few convertibles produced by U.S. automakers. The Beetle was one of the only choices for who wanted the open-air experience. demand started to increase so the order was sent to Karmann in to increase production of the convertible 33 to 50 units per day. The increase in sparked the release of one of the most special editions, the Triple convertible. White was Germany’s racing color so this came with Alpine paint, Opal (white) and a white convertible top.

sales for the convertible had been by over 5,000 units per since 1974. And in 1977 the Edition was Volkswagen’s latest offering. Like the Triple this Beetle was painted white with Opal but this time it came a light ivory (or light colored top. There was a stripe that was applied above the running boards on side of the body, a rosewood insert, sports wheels and white wall tires. The Super Beetle convertibles some of the nicest equipped ever. So Volkswagen decided to it even better with the of a rear window defroster and front headrests.

On January 19th, 1978 production ended for the standard sedan at the Emden plant, but the was to continue at the Karmann factory for a of years more. The 1978 brochure read, Once Volkswagen promises you the sun, the and the stars. However, articles in had people speculating that would be the last year for the convertible. This forced an in production to keep up with the for the soft top. Colors were Chrome yellow, red, Barrier blue and of Alpine white. The Champagne was back as the Champagne II and for the first ever it included a Blaupunkt radio, quartz clock and a elm wood appliqué on the dash.

surprised everyone in 1979 the convertible returned for yet another The new federal safety and pollution had been delayed and that the Beetle to pay North America its visit. The very last one brochure for the Super Beetle stated, After 29 years, of Beetles, and countless improvements, the Convertible is still a very way to flip your lid.

All of the that were on the Champagne Beetle were now standard The Super Beetle was now the only convertible for sale in the USA, and at was still a very good The last special edition produced was fittingly called the convertible or simply the Triple This rare Beetle black paint with a interior and top. The Epilog was to show the special bond the first Kdf-Wagen convertibles at the Karmann plant 40 years to this date that also painted black. for the $200.00 extra that the Black option cost, was an radio that was added to the standard equipment.

The news to spread that this was the last year of production for the convertible. This created a backlog of orders at the Karmann Production that was supposed to end 31st 1979 was kept up January 1980 to fill the of orders that poured in around the world. But on that day (January 10, 1980), the last Beetle, a triple-white convertible, off the production line and into forever. This car can be seen on display in the Karmann museum in Germany.

Super: ‘sü-pr 1. excellent, extremely good, 2. extra good or large of its 3. above, beyond or over.

Volkswagen 1302
Volkswagen 1302
Volkswagen 1302
Volkswagen 1302

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