32k Original Miles: 1973 Volkswagen Super Beetle

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Twenty years after the end of World War II, my dad (who served in the Navy aboard the U. S. S. Texas battleship), bought his first Volkswagen, a Ruby Red 1965 Beetle. He loved that car and was impressed with its German engineering and would remain a “Volkswagen Man” the rest of his life. In 1973, my dad ordered a new VW Super Beetle in Kansas Beige, and handed down his ’65 Beetle to yours truly and my twin brother. Dad pampered his new Super Beetle and would let me drive it occasionally. I remember the driving and riding experience felt more refined overall. It was roomier, more comfortable, and I liked the curved windshield and new “padded” dash. Here, for your consideration, is a 1973 VW Super Beetle survivor with 31,993 original miles. The seller is MB Vintage Cars in Cleveland, Ohio and the Super Beetle is listed here on eBay. As of this writing, 27 bids only totaling $2,075 had been submitted, which was short of the seller’s reserve.

The seller believes the Sumatra Green paint on the Super Beetle is original. Based on the photos, it is far from presentable and would need a repaint. The next owner should also check out the condition of the fenders where they meet the body. The VW has a number of fender dents front and rear and the bumpers have more than their share of dents. There are many photos of the undercarriage that shows minimal rust. The glass, lenses, and trim looks good, and although the tires are brand new, the choice of slapping wide whitewalls on a ’73 Super Beetle is questionable.

The beige and black interior is original (and is the same color as my dad’s Super Beetle) and is definitely tired and showing its age. There are cracks and tears in the high-back front bucket seats, peeling on the top of the rear bench seat from sun exposure, and the headliner and carpet needs replacing. The four-spoke steering wheel and door panels look decent for a 50-year-old car and there’s a crack on the top of the padded dash. The original radio is still in place but nothing is mentioned about how well it works (or doesn’t).

In the rear is the 1,600cc air cooled flat-four engine that’s rated at 60 horsepower and paired to a 4-speed manual transmission. The 31,993 miles on the odometer are claimed to be original. The seller shares that it’s going to need some work and states, the car runs and drives but does not stay on idle, probably the carburetor needs to be adjusted. The exhaust system also has a leak.” On the plus side, the brakes have been upgraded to new disc brakes all the way around. I’d like to know more about the history of this VW and what it’s been up to the past 50 years. The only thing the seller shares is that the last owner “just got the cars running, but it has sat many years undriven.” On the surface, this ’73 VW Super Beetle survivor looks pretty solid and could be a good restoration candidate. What do you think?

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  1. alphasudMember

    I have a modified 71 Super Beetle and prefer the 71-72 models because they still had the flat windshield. 73 had a number of changes with the mentioned curved windshield and dash. Improved ventilation, first year for the paper air filter and alternator, larger taillights. The early Super Beetles were prone to the death wobble if everything suspension wise and tires in many cases has to be balanced on the car. It wasn’t until 75 when VW ditched the steering box and went with rack and pinion steering to fix that issue.
    Coming from Cincinnati the body looks pretty good. Pans look solid and no rust around the frame head and frame horns so overall pretty solid for a rust belt car. Looks like a Chinese Solex and fuel pump so it doesn’t surprise me it doesn’t run right. These were tricky to tune with the original equipment. I bet that replacement fuel pump is producing more than 3psi and the carb needs to be taken apart and checked over and will need to be re-jetted. Vacuum advance is also critical and in many cases was the reason for hesitation.

    Like 13
  2. HoA Howard A ( since 2014)Member

    A “Stuper”[sic]Beetle, by gar it’s been a while. Code named the “1301/2/3”, I read, it was by far, the best bug to come down the pike. It had improvements in every area. I remember, purists hated them, that bulbous nose, but it had strut front, more trunk room, IRS rear, more power( same silly heating, which I see this cars is inoperative), the biggest problem, it was too late. People had their fill of VWs and much better cars were out there. I read the Super Beetle soldiered on until 1979, later in some European markets,but for the US, it was adios to the VW bug, that brought joy to so many.You want a VW bug, THIS is the one to have.

    Like 8
  3. Mark in WNC

    Sure looks ROUGH for only 32K miles. Just to clarify: all Beetles for U.S. market ’69 and later had IRS and engines were the same for either a Super or Standard for that particular year. As Howard A noted, the heat won’t work without the air hoses but that will also cause an engine melt-down.

    Like 9
  4. Big C

    I was just on this sellers web site. No price listed. E bay’s at $4450, reserve not met with 60 bids! Just for giggles, take a look at the Karman Ghia shell that he wants $9k for.

    Like 3
  5. Troy

    Someone needs to remind the seller that 5 digit odometers can roll over and start again as this one clearly has. that drives seat is to broken down and there is to much oil seepage on the bottom side to be only 32k miles

    Like 5
  6. vw.dodge

    It kills me all the VW seller claims we see these days of original mileage when obviously they have rolled over once or twice. The only thing about this car that indicates original miles is the map pockets on the door cards are not stretched out. Or it could also mean they were never used. An original 30k mile VW, even if it was left outside to rust for 50 years, would not have all that greasy road grit built up on the CV joints, struts, and transmission. Nor would the driver seat be so beat up while the others look so good. This seller is only fooling himself.

    Like 5
  7. Rob

    220K miles? More like it. Nice spray can repaint or Earl Schiebe?

    Like 2
  8. Tim Yates

    This engine has been into, if it’s running with the distributor in that possession the drive gear is a tooth off.

    Like 0

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