THE PEOPLES CAR
It's rare to find a Hooptie in winter but this next little ride was indeed holding it down in snowy Ditmas Park early this year:
This is a 1972 Volkswagen Super Beetle in Adriatic Blue. The original (Standard) Beetle was the Type 1. However, once the larger Super Beetle was introduced it became known as the Type 1302.
Obviously every single person on earth knows this car (at least over the age of 20). A good percentage of the people walking around out there have had one at some point in there lives. I've had 2 that ran well, one free and complete parts car that could've run, and a very old classic that I never got going. Those that I had were standard Beetles, all from 1963 or earlier. These bigger Beetles from the '70s drove more like a normal car.
After a major redesign in 1968 the Beetle grew in every direction. In the years following the windows, bumpers, and turn signals/brake lights all increased in size to this iteration. The Super Beetle was even bigger, with an extended front end allowing for the spare tire to lay flat on the trunk floor as opposed to standing in the front in a well. The main improvements for the Super were in the handling department though as McPherson Struts replaced the old shock absorbers up front. A rack & pinon steering set up was introduced in 1975 and is an easy conversion for these older ones.
Here we can see the extended schnoz on the Super; the hood remains almost level to the middle of the front wheel. The Standard Beetle angled downward almost from the base of the windshield.
Very faintly in the above pic you can see the fuel filler door located above the rear of the front fender. Before 1968 you had to open the trunk to fill the gas tank!
These are the stock wheels but they've always seemed a bit busy to me. I much prefer the old school round chrome hubcaps from the '60s and earlier Beetles.
Here we've got the bulbous and heavily vented hood over the air-cooled rear engine. It would be the 1600 dual port 4 cylinder at this point, which is a great engine. I've had an engine just like this one in each of my '63 Beetles and the difference in power was incredible.
These taillights are still somewhat restrained compared to what was to come. By the mid '70s the taillights were enormous, incorporating orange into the lenses as well.
That crescent vent behind the rear side window first arrived in 1971 to improve the famously inadequate heating system. Air is drawn into the cabin through heater boxes that hug the exhaust pipes leaving the engine. Since Beetles are just about air tight with the doors and windows closed (they can easily float when driven into a lake) the air needs a way to exit the cabin to allow for newer, warmer air to make it in. These crescents are meant to exhale the inside cabin air.
This was the final year for a flat windshield on the Super, which went to a curved unit in '73.
From it's ominous beginnings as a joint Adolf Hitler/Ferdinand Porsche design for the Peoples Car the Beetle went on to become the largest selling automobile in history (beating out the previous record holder the Ford Model T. In the 1990s the Toyota Corolla toppled the Beetle). By 1972 this was the only thing on the road that looked like it was designed in the '30s with its fenders separate from the body and overall rounded look. Safety and emissions regulations and performance demands all combined to finally make the Beetle extinct. It is a remarkable testament to their simplicity and quality that so many are still on the road today.