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Sunday, July 8, 2012

My 1973 VW RESTORATION: Standard vs. Super Beetle

My research on the VW opened up a whole new world of appreciation for our old VW Bug. I wanted to know more about our own classic before I actually got to the restoration proper. I wanted to know was what type of beetle do we really have. It tuned out that this simple question opened up so many interesting answers.

Based on the VW Car Registration alone:
a. 1973 VOLKSWAGEN 2 door sedan.
b. Motor number: AB-813805
c. Serial/Chassis number 11342736

Some questions:

Is my bug a Standard or a Super Beetle?

1. History:
Standard Beetle
Super Beetle

The Standard beetle (manufactured in Germany) is the original Beetle using torsion bars for the front suspension. This car is the most common Beetle and has evolved from the original Porsche design but was considered the basic model- the Super Beetle the top of the line in Beetles. . This car was still sold when the Super Beetles were made and was sold in the United States until 1977.

The Super Beetle was the first Beetle for which Volkswagen used the name "Beetle". The Standard was only known as the Type 1 by Volkswagen. Super Beetles were introduced by Volkswagen as an upgrade from the original model and were sold starting with the 1971 model. Both models of the Super Beetle (1302 and 1303) use the MacPherson struts for suspension. This is the main element making it different from the Standard Beetle. This leads to a major difference in the look and handling of the car. Also the space available in the trunk is way larger than in the Standard with an increase of 86%. This was made possible by having the spare wheel flat in the bottom and the gas tank is set differently (with a different shape) thanks to the MacPherson struts. The Super Beetle is the same as the Standard from the front pillar to the back of the car. The different front end improves the handling of the car but also adds between 155 and 160 pounds to the car.

2. How could I tell if my bug is a Standard Beetle (Beetle) or a Super Beetle? Below are some of my bases based on research.

a. Mechanically the Super Beetle has a different front end. The Super Beetle is a Macpherson strut front suspension. The standard Beetle has the good old torsion bar front end found on all non-super beetle bugs.
Macpherson strut front suspension- Super Beetle 
Torsion Bar Front end - Standard VW beetle 
The easiest way to tell at first glance what type of front end your bug has hence determine if you have a Standard (torsion bar) or a Super Beetle (Macpherson strut) front end is to look at how the spare tire is oriented in the trunk: the spare tire in a Super Beetle lies flat while a Standard Beetle stands up. 
Upright spare tire- Standard Beetle
Flat spare tire orientation- Super Beetle
b. Cosmetically the Standard and a Super Beetle has some distinct differences. Take note though that beetles have several replacement accessory parts which can be interchanged depending on the choice of the owner. It can be confusing most of the time to determine if you have a Standard or a Super based on cosmetics alone.
i. Curved windshield is associated with the super beetle. All flat equipped windshields were the Standard beetles. The newer Super Beetles have rounded front windshields but I came across different sources on when (73 or 74) this was actually started. Take note that Super beetles started in 71 and that Supers in 71 & 72 have the flat windshield.  Supers had the curved windshields starting in 73. 
ii. Front apron vertical grills under the front bumper. The Apron for Supers usually has front air vents 4" vertical grills under the front bumpers (see above). Many Supers though have replacement front aprons without the AC condenser vents.

iii. Front hood- Supers usually have long, broad front hoods. Also, the very bottom front of the car appears to roll under the car as it has a rolled-under front apron (sans louvers).

3. VERDICT:  I have a 1973 STANDARD Volkswagen Beetle.

Based from the following findings:
a. torsion bar front end
b. spare tire upright
c. flat windshield

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