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The Most Popular Car Ever Made

  1. Jul 4, 2014 #1
    bug_zps37eda8c4.jpg

    Something like 23 million sold, all over the world, during the years they were manufactured.

    It's not simple to explain why they were so popular. They weren't particularly good cars, though they had their quirky strengths: good in snow, being the one I've seen most often mentioned. They got good gas mileage for the times, in contrast to the big gas guzzlers around them, but, speaking of gas, they were also prone to engine fires due to bad engineering on the fuel lines. They weren't sturdy, safe cars, and if you looked at the engines cross-eyed, they'd start leaking oil.

    What really surprises me is how popular they still are. I'm not talking about the new version, I'm talking about the 1978 and older ones. I've been paying attention lately and I see them still out there being driven, all over the place. Every week I seem to see about 4 of them I've never seen before. People won't let them die. Many, many companies are still manufacturing replacement parts for them, even brand new engines. Search Craigslist in your area and see how many are up for sale. My impression is there are more of these than any other "classic" car, being revived and restored, and driven as people's primary vehicles. I would love to find out how many made between '46 and '78 are currently registered in the U.S.

    Post your Bug opinions and stories and lore.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ctin21yrfcA
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 4, 2014 #2

    nsaspook

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    It's a fast car in the right trim. :tongue:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Vq3t-oyGVM
     
  4. Jul 4, 2014 #3

    jtbell

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    For 27 years, I either rode in or drove Beetles. When I was a kid, my parents bought a light green '63, then a beige '68. I learned to drive in the '68. When I was in college, they bought a second-hand orange '74. They gave it to me the year before I finished grad school, after they retired and decided they didn't need two cars any more. It was the first car I owned. I drove it until 1989, and did much of the routine maintenance work on it: changing the oil, adjusting the valves, etc. The book I used as a guide is still in print!

    https://www.amazon.com/Keep-Volkswa...=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404463092&sr=1-2
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  5. Jul 4, 2014 #4

    Borek

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    You can fix it with bare hands. If you really need tools, just look around for a stick and a rock, they will do in most cases.
     
  6. Jul 4, 2014 #5

    jtbell

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    One of my all-time favorite TV commercials: "Did you ever wonder how the guy who drives the snow plow... gets to the snow plow?"

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  7. Jul 4, 2014 #6

    nsaspook

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    My friends and I learned the hard way that VWs can float. Back when you could still drive a car on the beaches (early 70s) in Long Beach, CA we were driving like fools on the surf doing donuts at the waters edge when a huge wave came in and lifted the car up. For about 10 seconds we were spinning around and going out to sea with the tide.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qB0lb401ZU
     
  8. Jul 4, 2014 #7

    lisab

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    I learned to drive a manual transmission in a Bug, when I was 17!

    And the weirdest thing about them: they had a distinctive smell. Every single one of them.
     
  9. Jul 4, 2014 #8

    George Jones

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    Three of my older siblings had classic VWs. My oldest sister had a red bug, my oldest brother had a yellow fastback,

    http://www.oldparkedcars.com/2012/03/1969-volkswagen-type-3-1600-fastback-tl_21.html

    and my other brother had a blue station wagon,

    http://www.oldparkedcars.com/2010/05/1971-volkswagen-squareback-type-3-1600.html

    The engine also had/has a very distinctive sound. While walking down the street a few days ago, I heard a familiar sound. I looked around, and, sure enough, an old VW was passing by me.
     
  10. Jul 4, 2014 #9

    phinds

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    I remember one of my roommates in college had one in the 60's and driving it used to scare the hell out of me because the road was RIGHT THERE in front of your feet.
     
  11. Jul 4, 2014 #10

    AlephZero

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    You still see a few old VW camper vans in use in the UK.
    bob-vw-camper-van.jpg

    Same basic design as the "Beetle" cars - rear air-cooled engine. The long linkage from the gearstick to the gearbox could "randomize" gear changing if it got too worn - on a really bad day, toss a coin to decide if you want to start in forward or reverse gear!

    If that scared you in the car, look at the (non-existent) gap between the steering wheel and the front of the van! You are actually sitting in front of the front wheels.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2014
  12. Jul 4, 2014 #11
    Yeah, a considerable percentage of current owners turn them into hot rods and dune buggies with aftermarket engines way bigger than the originals. The first bugs had 1200cc engines, I believe. They gradually got bigger till the stock engine topped out at 1600, I think. Top speed for a bug with a stock engine was something like 71mph, poor even for a 4-cylinder.
    For some reason, orange is my favorite color for a Beetle. It seems right and proper. And for some reason white, beige, and yellow Beetles strike me as completely wrong.

    There are several different air-cooled Beetle manuals still in print beside the one you mention. Lots of them on Amazon. There's also myriad YouTube videos, everything from how to change the oil to rebuilding the engine. People are really still doing these cars.
    You can take the valve covers off with a stick, anyway. Beats loosening 10 bolts. They say the engine was designed so one person could drop it out of the car in one hour with minimal tools. That's good because you have to drop the engine for more repairs than you would on a "normal" car. Like, you can't take the heads off a bug engine without removing the whole engine from the vehicle first.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  13. Jul 4, 2014 #12
    That could be another reason: they were ahead of the pack when it came to amusing, clever advertising.

    There's that Ted Kennedy joke.

    The unsinkability of the bug is still important to bug buyers. There's a problem now, that the floor pans are often rusted through underneath the rear seat due to spilled battery acid. This detracts from the value. It's a major fix to make them seaworthy again.
    The smell never goes away! Decades later, it's as distinct as ever! They say there's a secret, proprietary formula for the plastic they used in the seat covers.
    The Beetles had the "type 1" engine, and the others, type 2, 3, or 4.
    At first I always think I'm hearing some kind of motorcycle. But it's even different than that. Since the cylinders aren't jacketed with liquid coolant passages, you hear more raw engine sound.
    I see these all over the place also, but I don't pay so much attention. It seems like for every two bugs left there's also one van left. I haven't measured, but they say the van and the bug are actually pretty much the same length. The bugs look smaller than they actually are, and the vans, larger.
     
  14. Jul 4, 2014 #13

    lisab

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    -- a friend of mine, a long time ago
     
  15. Jul 4, 2014 #14

    OmCheeto

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    I'll try and keep this short. :redface:

    I was 16 when I bought my first car. It was a '61 beetle. It was kind of inexpensive, as it didn't have a drivers side door, and it had been rolled. On the two mile long trip home, I had the accelerator pedal floored, and never broke 45 mph. I decided it should have gone faster than that, so the engine had be rebuilt, and I started the task. Shortly after, I discovered that someone had replaced the engine with a 1959 model, robbing me of 4 hp. But I had spent $50 for the car, and didn't have much to spare, so I completed the tear down. It struck me as being not too difficult, requiring only sticks and rocks to take apart, so I started tearing down the transmission. Upon removing the transaxle thingy, I decided the rest of the tear down required more than sticks and rocks, so I put everything back together. I was quite surprised that it started. Even more surprising, was that when I put the car in 1st gear, it went backwards. Apparently, the transaxle thingy could be reassembled by a dyslexic with absolutely no problem, yielding 4 reverse gears, and 1 forward gear. At that point, it didn't matter that I'd buggered the rebuild a bit, and still couldn't go faster than 45 mph, as I had the fastest backwards driving car in the world. :biggrin:

    Lessons learned from ending up with a coffee can full of spare nuts, bolts, screws, clips, and unidentifiable thingys, but it all held together:

    A: This car was way over-engineered.
    B: Take better notes next time.

    :thumbs:
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2014
  16. Jul 4, 2014 #15

    Borek

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    :rofl:
     
  17. Jul 4, 2014 #16

    nsaspook

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    Zombie attack bug:
    040.JPG

    Scout version:
    bajabug1.jpg

    Stealth version:
    Beetle11.jpg

    Troop carrier:
    vw04.jpg
     
  18. Jul 4, 2014 #17

    OmCheeto

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    As a quirky little side note:

    My mother was born in Germany, way back in the 1920's. I have 4 brothers, and two sisters.

    Of the nine of us, only mom, and my two brothers born in Germany, never had Volkswagens.

    ps.
    A. My youngest sister taught me how to drive on ice in her beetle, when I was 15.
    B. I learned that you can drive with the emergency brake on for miles without noticing it, until your oldest sister, mentions an odd smell, when you arrive home.
    C. 4 extra teenagers do not improve the cornering ability of a VW fastback when there is snow on the road. :redface:
     
  19. Jul 4, 2014 #18
    The history is interesting. Under the Nazis, the German populace never benefitted from the "People's Car". In fact, a lot of citizens got ripped off, having made payments in advance for cars that never got produced. Between their conception and the German defeat, only about 600 bugs rolled off the assembly line. The "People's Car" project was abandoned because the resources were needed for the German war machine.

    World wide distribution of the Bug is due to the British, who revived the dead project after the war. The closed VW factory ended up being in the British sector of post-war Germany, and it was the British who discovered this factory all tooled up to make this cheap, peculiar air-cooled vehicle. They, themselves, needed vehicles to administer their quarter of the defeated country, and sent in specialists to get the plant back in operation. The first people to really benefit from the Beetle, therefore, and ironically, were Hitler's sworn enemies.
     
  20. Jul 5, 2014 #19
    OK, it just happened again. 10 minutes ago I was out walking and a Bug that I'd never seen before drove by. It was a very nicely kept light blue, and the engine sounded in fine tune.

    I'm wondering if anyone else has suddenly noticed Bugs they've not noticed before since I started this thread. I suspect I might be living in an anomalously Bug-heavy neighborhood in an anomalously Bug-heavy part of the country.

    Rust does actually sleep here, in the American Southwest. In fact, it's mostly asleep except for a couple months of the year. I wonder if I have a skewed perception of how many old air-cooled Beetles are actually out there in the world in general.
     
  21. Jul 5, 2014 #20

    Evo

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    I knew a couple of people that owned one, back in the 60's, and their reason was that it was all they could afford, it was cheap. I rode as a passenger in one once and it was not pleasant, talk about I was feeling the road and about to become part of it. :surprised The fact that she was a bad driver didn't help. It was her, me and her parents. We were shaking when we got out (her parents and I).
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2014
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