our vw beetles
My first VW Beetle was a 1974 1303s which my Dad purchased for me shortly after my 18th Birthday back in 1998. It wasn't the best looked after Beetle in the world, all the wings had some small surface rust, the engine could have done with a tune up, under the rear seat there were two rust holes (one either side) and house-hold carpet had been installed. Me, my dad and my brother set about stripping down the bug, removing the seats and carpet. My dad and my brother repaired the rust under the rear seat. We retuned the engine adjusting the carburettor, installing a new fuel filter, fuel pump and replacing the spark plugs. We also removed the wings, sanded, filled, primed, painted and re-fitted. We also noticed that there had been some rust in the center of both doors as there was tell-tale cracks where it had been filled. We removed the doors, sanded them down, welded, filled, primed, painted and refitted.
We had 8 good years with that bug, but when you are spending £500-£1,000 pounds a year keeping it on the road, you start to wonder. At this time I had been looking what the options were, I had been quoted over a £1,000 pounds just to look at replacing the from frame head and there were other Beetles for sale around the £2,000 mark which had little work required. I did see a '98 Mexcian Beetle advertised on Autotrader and initially dismissed it. After careful consideration I decided to contact the seller and see what the story was. The beetle was being sold as the ownerno longer had space in his private collection and wasn't using it nearly as much as it deserved.
I arranged for me and my dad to look at the bug the following weekend. When we arrived the beetle was outside and gleaming in the sun. We had a good look round, the beetle was in almost brand new condition, it hardly looked used and befitting of it's 2,500 mileage. We had a discussion with the trader, then went out for a test drive. As the beetle hadn't been used very much, the accelerator pedal was extremely stiff, which made made pulling away quite difficult and it felt like a kangeroo. We put a deposit down for the Beetle, the trader arranged for a new MOT that week and we arranged to come back the following weekend to pay the rest of car and pickup the beetle. Thankfully it was a nice sunny day when we collected the Bug, enabling us to take our time on the near 50 mile journey home. There were no problems to report, other than an aching foot from the stiff accelerator pedal!
Since that day the bug has been used as much as possible, some say too much others say not enough. Despite what i have read online and heard My Mexican Beetle has been pretty reliable, the only major problem was the Idle Air Control valve became faulty producing a surging idle, not something you could drive with. As initially it only happened once, I was able to source the diagnostics equipment and when it happened again some 3 months later I was able to diagnose the problem straightaway and replace the part.
There have been the usual wear and tear items replaced during ownership such as the alternator, front brakes, exhaust, tail pipe, air filter, rear brake cyclinders, horn, tyres, ball joints, seat adjuster (I managed to snap it off) and the hand brake lever.
According to the stickers on the inside of the engine lid, the beetle has around 44hp, which doesn't sound that much and it is hard to tell if that is from the mexican\american fuels, over here in the UK it might be different. I did find later on that there is a guy in Germany who is able to take your electronics module and replace the chip giving you around an extra 5hp of power. The only downside is that you need to send your electronics unit to Germany so you might not be able to use the car for a week or two, although it does state a temporary unit will be issued. Head over to 1600i.de for more information.
I am looking forward to many more trouble free years with "Bertie" Beetle.
In 2001 my mum at that time had an F reg VW Polo estate (some call it a bread van) and we were looking for something else, on one such shopping trip the local VW Garage had a used 2001 VW New Beetle in Silver. It was the 2 Litre model with air con and alloys wheels. It had covered around 6,000 miles in 6 months and was pretty much in new condition. My Mum and I went down to the garage, had a look at the car, had a test drive, put a deposit down and subsequentially purchased the bug. We had a good few years with that bug, it wasn't the fastest but it was comfy and easy to drive. We did have to take it back to the garage after a recall letter from Volkswagen regarding the third brake light. The other problem we had was the coil pack needed replacement, otherwise it was a reliable car.
In 2008 we did see a Grey 2004 2 Litre VW New Beetle for sale near our caravan park on the sourch coast. After doing a bit of research again we pop in to the dealer, had a test drive and purchased the bug. This beetle had alloy wheels, air con, heated seats, electric folding mirrors and front fog lights. It was slightly more refined than the previous beetle and had the slightly uplifted front nose redesign. One difference was that there was no boot handle to raise the talgate, you had to press the button on the remote to release. Again this was another beetle with hardly any problems, I did get the front brakes replaced as I wasn't entirely happy with them. I don't recall anything major wrong with the bug, only wear and tear items. It served us well.
When Volkswagen announced that they were ceasing production of the New Beetle (around 2009\2010), I was in two minds whether to get a then current model one before they sold out, unfortunately it looked like the UK wasn't on the list and new models were hard to find. We decided to keep with what we had and see if any dealers had a decent second hand model, it was then released by Volkswagen that they were making a new version of the Beetle and that it would be on sale late 2012 although details on the design were hard to find. The eventual sneak previews that did come out were promising along with the engine choices from 1.2 to 2 Litre.
In 2012 whilst at a car show at the Hickstead Show Ground, Caffyn's Volkswagen (Brighton & Eastbourne) were showing three New Beetles and a Golf. I managed to get a test drive of the Beetle, registered my interest as i wasn't that keen on the 1.4 or 2 litre models that they had in stock. A few months later they contacted me to say that volkswagen were taking orders for the 1.2 TSi Model. I put my name down with the spec that I wanted and we visited the VW garage to confirm. it wasn't until March 2013 that we got to pick up the Beetle due to manufacturing delays.
The New Beetle was ordered with the "Design" trim on the 1.2 TSI engine, Reflex silver paint, tixo cloth interior, Zenon Headlights with LED running lights, RDS Infotainment system with Sat Nav and Bluetooth, alloy wheels, front font lights, electric heated folding mirrors, 2 zone climate control, rear of seat jacket holder, the rear seat waste bin, rear luggage foam\rubber mat & beetle floor mats. Whilst it might not be the fastest it is comfortable and has been ultra reliable, you can get up to 60mpg on a long dual carriageway/motorway run. I think we have averaged overall somewhere around 48 mpg. Travelling to and from our caravan we regularaly get around 53 mpg and that is a mix of town\city to dual carriageways.
In 2015 I changed jobs, later that same year there was building work taking place onsite and unfortunately one of lorries with a digger on the back clipped a couple of trees and the branches fell down and smashed the roof and rear window of the Beetle (the contractors were told not to drive around the site but forgot to tell this delivery driver). Luckilly the beetle was repaired, it had to go back due to defects in the repairs (mainly paint as there were marks that weren't filled or repaired).
Apart from the above there has been little else wrong with the Beetle. There are always a few creaks and small interior rattles (all have been resolved though) but the Bug has been reliable and continues to deliver. At the moment and forseable future there is no plans to replace it. It has covered just over 42,000 miles since new.
If Volkswagen do finally decide to put the Electric Bugster (or a similar Beetle) that they briefly marketed into production it would be something to think about, especially if they make it as a four seater (the marketing said it was a 2 seater model). It would certainly be unique compared to all the current EV's which pretty much look the same, except for the ID Buzz.
If I can find a suitable VW Mexican Beetle from around '97 to '99 in fairly good condition (not requiring too much work) I might be tempted to purchase the Bug, keep the engine, electronics and fuel tank etc as spares and have it converted to Electric. Going forward this will be the way to go and I think the UK Government need to embrace this more as converting older cars are much more environmentally friendly than simply building new cars. The cost of converting an older car does have to come down as prices currently range from £25,000 to £50,000 for a typical car and if you want something with more range or performance then the sky is the limit.
Many thanks for reading.
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