1974 VW Beetle: Unloved Bug


While the older Beetles with oval windows and semaphores may be more desirable, finding a clean late model example is getting harder to do. This 1974 Beetle here on eBay has only 3,370 original miles and is in showroom-like condition. According to the seller, the car never found favor with its original owners who bought it to tow behind their motorhome, disliking the stick-shift transmission they bought it with. Their granddaughter also passed on the car after finding out it didn’t have a radio (and the manual transmission wasn’t her taste, either). Finally, it’s up for grabs with barely any use on it besides being driven around the campgrounds that the R/V was parked at. I’ve always found the choice in vehicles that are towed behind those homes-on-wheels to be interesting; surely, this survivor Bug deserves a better fate. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Jim S for the find.


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  1. JamestownMike

    Is this the STANDARD beetle?………not the SUPER BEETLE (with sucky suspension and limited value). The windshield looks flat like the “standard” beetle but thought they stopped making it by 1974 in the US??

    • NLCTVWguy

      It is a Standard. Torsion bar front, flat windshield. Should be the same as all US model beetles and Super Beetles mechanically. 1600, the last year of carburetors. I drove a gold one with the black trim package like this for years. It looks like a Sun Bug but without the sunroof. That’s good, the sunroofs frequently leaked. Shame there are no engine pictures on the ad.

  2. jayn_j

    Actually, I believe this is the limited edition Love Bug they sold in 1974. Standard beetle with blacked out trim.

    • Sam

      I worked for a VW dealership back in 74 and 75. These were “stripper” models, which we referred to as “plain janes” at our shop. They were standard Beetles with no options, and even had the cheap wheels with no hubcaps. They may have been called “love bugs” back then, I just don’t recall for sure. You can easily tell the 74 from the 73, because the 74 had those shock absorbing bumper mounts, where the 73 had the old style brackets. The 75 (the last year for US sales, I believe) had a catalytic converter and only one exhaust pipe as opposed to the twin resonator pipes of earlier models.

      • NLCTVWguy

        The standard Beetle was sold until 1977. Major decreases in sales numbers from 1973 onward (declining from 1 million cars per year, in 73). The new models took away a lot of sales – Rabbit, Dasher, then Scirocco.

        The Super Beetle hardtop ran until ’75. The last year was called a “La Grande Bug”.

        The Beetle Convertible, which was a Super Beetle from ’71 on, ran until January 1980- the last month they could get away with the older emissions control standards. Quite a lot were sold in ’79 when it became known that it was the final year it would be available in the US. But you know how unhappy they had become with fuel injection by then.

  3. RayT Member

    I think — but am not sure — you could get a standard Beetle in the U.S. in ’74. If not, there were Mexican Beetles; a friend brought one in for his son.

    Would not be difficult to get a proper radio for it, and it would certainly need the brakes gone through by now, as years, if not miles, will have had their way with the rubber bits. I’d want to know how much regular service it had before getting as excited as I’d like to.

    There are plenty of Beetle fans out there, and my guess is that the price has not yet stopped climbing!

  4. rdc

    Interesting car. Black trim around headlights? What engine was there in the car in 74. Bet emission controls strangled it.

    Incidently I had a 74 VW Dasher automatic. In retrospect, it was the worst car i ever bought new.

  5. RichC

    Something’s not adding up right. His VIN number is all numbers, no letters, so that’s no help.
    Is this a Mexican Beetle? Look at the bumper height, blackout trim, and the front turn signals.

    • NLCTVWguy

      That VIN is complete and correct for any car of this vintage. They didn’t adopt the 17 digit VIN til 1980. It’s a completely normal German built Beetle with the black chrome trim and Sport Bug 4-spoke steel wheels. Bumper height is normal for 1974-77 crash bumper cars. No Mexican models were made with shock-absorbing crash bumpers.

  6. MH

    Great car. Always loved the beetle. Put it in a private collection or a museum.

  7. sparkster

    My older sister bought one of these new. Super Beetle with air conditioning in So. Calif. I haven seen another Super Beetle with air conditioning since.

    • Drew

      There’s a lil salvage yard in S.E.Mo I was in about 5 yrs ago that had a wrecked 74′ Super Beatle with air and the crank back sunroof… Took a friend of mine who restored bugs to look at it, it had hit something hard and then something had hit it, looked like a wadded up piece of foil, my friend could not find a single piece worth saving…

  8. AthensSlim

    My folks had one very much like this when I was a kid. I’m sure it was a ’74 and I’m sure it was a “standard” beetle. Same color, but it had the dog dish hubcaps and the “autostick” transmission. 1600cc engine rated at 46bhp. Last year for the carburetor, 75’s had injection.

  9. David Frank David Member

    This is a regular beetle. The first of the superbeetles had flat windshields, but that was only in 1971 and 1972 as I recall. In 1974 Super Beetles had a curved windshiels. One easy way to tell that this is a regular beetle for sure and not a super is the dash. In the super beetles the speedometer stuck up from the dash as in the picture. The longer hood and flater roofline of the super beetles are less obvious.

  10. Ian Chorne

    It was probably unloved because they found out why it was called the “Hitler-mobile” lol.

    • Rich

      I think by 1974 most people had moved on from associating VWs with Hitler.

  11. Patrick McC.

    Volkswagen produced the standard beetle up till 1978; although not in the numbers that the Super Beetle sold for in the late 70’s. Some of the black trim hints at a Mexican beetle but I don’t quite see all the clues. Really nice car, though.

  12. Grr

    @ JamestownMike – why does the improved suspension of the Super Beetles make them ‘sucky’?

  13. That Guy

    I’m a long, long way from a Beetle expert, but I remember the blackout trim on some of the entry-level Beetles from this time. There was a specific name for that trim level, which I don’t recall now, but I think it was the stripped-down price leader model. Which makes sense for someone to buy as a motorhome-tow-behind car.

    Oh, I see jayn_j has a link to it. The “Love Bug.”

  14. George


    1977 was the last model year the Standard Beetle Sedan was offered and sold in the United States (1975 was the last model year the Super Beetle Sedan). Production continued on the Super Beetle-based Convertible/Cabriolet which was offered and sold through the 1979 model year in the United States .

  15. Fred

    Owner says seat covers have been replaced but he doesn’t know why. I think I do- the VW vinyl was “JC Whitney” quality and deteriorated even when not driven. Most everything else about the car lasted though.

  16. Drew

    I hate to see a car restored and used as a trailer queen cuz all a person is doing is showing off their skillz and how much money they have to blow, but a car like this should not be driven, but meticulously maintained in its present condition as a reference for future generations to admire. It needs climate controlled storage and enclosed trailer transport…

  17. Brandon

    Frequently, 1974 VIN tags were put on 1990’s Mexican Beetles so they could get imported into the USA with no trouble. This car could be one of them.

    • Danno

      That’s 100% not true.
      The Mexican built cars are noticeably different, and this car surely isn’t one of them.
      1. Carb’d motor
      2. Turn signals on top of the fenders.
      3. Dash.
      4. Instrumentation.
      5. Seats
      6. Rear Apron (not made for cat like Mexi cars)
      7. I could go on forever.

  18. RoughDiamond

    It sure is purty, but the last VW stick I would want to buy is one that two previous owners hated manual transmissions. I’ll bet that trans axle took beating.

  19. Doug M

    Hate to say it cause I’m “watching” it on eBay but it appears it’s the real deal according to VIN, pics and info. Was a parts manager for VOA ’76-’80 and remember these. We referred to them as Cal look bugs. At the time I was in love with my ’67 Type 1 and ’76 Rabbit demo so didn’t take even a sideways glance at the Sun Bugs.
    Fingers crossed that bidding doesn’t go nutz.

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