Tuesday, June 26, 2012


My Story

Our 1973 Volkswagen German beetle has been with our family for almost as long as I am alive. My very first memories of a car were always that of our red VW which was the first car bought by my Dad. We’ve had several other types of cars afterwards but nothing compares to the classic VW beetle not only for its different look and features but mostly for its sentimental value.

Our VW was the workhorse of the family when we I was still young being engaged almost daily not only for family use but also for business purposes. It remained that way for almost two decades even with the purchase of newer models of Japanese cars. It is really amazing that this German iconic automobile outlived all of these Japanese cars! When almost all of the siblings already left our ancestral home to start their own families, our VW saw a decline in usage the following decades and remained most of the time in the family garage with Dad maintaining it more frequently than actually using it. It was hardly used anymore the following years specially when Dad suffered from a stroke and could not be as mobile as before. It was during one of my few visits to the province when I started to take a second look at the VW and decided to take on the restoration and upkeep of the old classic. 

Again, this is getting ahead of myself with this bucket list entry. As in all of my entries before I fully engage in them, I again did my usual research on the material. 


The Volkswagen Beetle, commonly called the Volkswagen Bug (officially called the Volkswagen Type 1), was produced by the German auto maker Volkswagen (VW) from 1938 until 2003. With over 21 million manufactured in an air-cooled, rear-engined, rear-wheel drive configuration, the Beetle is the longest-running and most manufactured car of a single design platform anywhere in the world.

The history of the Beetle goes back to pre World War 2 Germany when Ferdinand Porsche envisioned a mass produced people’s car affordable to the average German. His passion was shared by another car fanatic who ironically could not himself drive- Adolf Hitler. This idea itself was influenced by the achievements of Henry Ford and his production lines. 

When Hitler became chancellor in 1933 he stated that his government would support the development of a 'people’s car'. Porsche's design brief for this project showcased a car that could carry two adults and three children at a speed of 60mph with at least 33 mpg. The price was to be 1000 Reich marks, not much more than a motorcycle at the time. Porsche was not convinced that a car could be made so cheaply but took on the project nonetheless. The project car was named the Type 60 with an air-cooled flat-four engine mainly based on many components on the earlier Porsche designed car NSU.

By late 1935 the first prototypes were on the autobahns. In 1937, the coachbuilders Reutter, based in Stuttgart, were asked to make 30 vehicles which included saloons, sunroofs and convertible models. These would eventually be shipped to various festivals and fairs to entice the German public to buy. On May 1938, Hitler declared in a newly built VW factory that the model would be known as "KdF-Wagen" or "Strength through Joy" wagen. Production was set to begin September 1939- the same month WW2 was declared. The KdF-Wagen production was placed on hold and was changed to military vehicles. The "Kubelwagen" was developed  and was joined by the " Schwimmwagen"- a 4 wheeled drive vehicle capable of driving on land and water.

Although designed in the 1930s, the Beetle was only mass produced in significant numbers from 1945 onwards and was marketed simply as the "Volkswagen". Later models were designated VW 1200, 1300, 1500, 1302 or 1303, the former three indicating engine displacement and the latter two being derived from the type number and not indicative of engine capacity. The model became widely known in its home country as the Käfer (German for "beetle") and was later marketed as such in Germany, and as the Volkswagen Beetle in other countries.

In the 1950s, the Beetle was more comfortable and powerful than most European small cars having been designed for sustained high speed on the Autobahn. It remained a top seller in the U.S., owing much of its success to high build-quality and innovative advertising, ultimately giving rise to variants, including the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia and the Volkswagen Type 2 bus.

The Beetle pioneered the modern continental economy car and later served as the benchmark for the initial two generations of North American compact cars, including the Chevrolet Corvair and Ford Falcon, as well as later subcompact cars such as theChevrolet Vega and Ford Pinto.
In a 1999 international poll for the world's most influential car of the 20th century, the Type 1 came fourth, after the Ford Model T, the Mini, and the Citroën DS.

Beetle Restoration:

Throughout the years in terms of car restoration, the older models of the Volkswagen Beetle  have become one of the more popular cars to restore. It can be a favorite “project car” by both amateur and hard core VW enthusiasts as it is relatively straightforward to work on mainly due to the simplicity of design itself (compared to today's standards), simple old-fashioned engine and uncomplicated chassis. There is also the novelty of having the luxury of interchanging of many parts which is made possible by the relatively minor changes made to the shape and design of the car throughout the years. Up to this time, there is still a rich source of reproduction parts available internationally for the Volkswagen Beetle making it a very popular vehicle for car restoration. More often that not, parts can be upgraded to make them safer. Brakes can be converted from drum brakes to the more efficient disc brake set ups. Accessories can also be added like the Air conditioning systems which can result to a more comfortable ride similar to the conveniences of the modern cars. On the other hand, there are VW enthusiasts who chose to maintain the classic look of their beetle. There is still a large fan base for the Volkswagen Beetle as shown by the many enthusiast clubs and websites which help keep up the enduring popularity of the iconic little German car.

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  1. What a great story! I have been looking into a car restoration for my dad's old Shelby. I know my husband won't do it, or if he does, it may not turn out the way I am looking for it to haha! But your post really makes me want to get moving on restoring that car. Thanks so much!

  2. I'm glad you were able to relate to this post Brielle (nice name by the way). It is a family story first before anything else...Thanks for looking...Please visit once in a while as my other "bucket list" posts might interest you also...Feel free to subscribe/follow through Network Blog or Google Friend connect. Thanks.