Bargain Drop-Top: 1974 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

1974 VW Super Beetle Convertible

As a huge fan of the Love Bug movies growing up, I’m surprised I’ve never owned a Beetle. That doesn’t mean I’m not a fan, though—the simplicity and robustness of the little car has charmed many through the years. Karmann produced the “coachbuilt” convertible versions with a high-quality top mechanism and attention to detail throughout. In today’s world of high-tech electronics and plastics, it might be nice to have an air-cooled, refreshingly simple collector car just to putter around in. This Beetle convertible is located in Chuckee, Tennessee and is available here on eBay for a buy-it-now price of $3,400.

1974 VW Beetle Convertible

The seller states that the car requires front bodywork and a bumper, which is evidenced by this picture. While the hood appears to be a fiberglass aftermarket part, I’m a little puzzled by the front fenders and valence, which are dented but do not show the seams between them that should be present. I’m guessing someone filled the seams for a particular look. This shouldn’t scare you too much, though, as all parts are available easily, both used and new, and if you like it bumperless, there are plenty of options. “Cal-look” Beetles feature de-chroming, body color trim and smoothed features, so if you want to go in that direction this car is already part of the way there.

1974 VW Super Beetle Engine

The ad offers a pair of pictures of the little air-cooled flat four. Supposedly it runs and drives pretty well, and the seller has done some recent work, including replacing the starter, gas lines, battery and some wiring. The Beetle really is a simple vehicle and I would be surprised if there were anything requiring something beyond what a home tinkerer could handle.

1974 Volkswagen Super Beetle

One of the largest expenses could be the top, but this one was replaced about 10 years ago and is stated to be in good condition. EMPI-style (or maybe real?) wheels add to the visual interest of this car for me, although I think I’d get rid of the gold. I’m not sure what the strange color patch on the engine lid visible just over the taillight in this picture is; anyone got an idea?

1974 VW Super Beetle Interior

The two fuzzy interior pictures don’t tell us much except that it has an aftermarket steering wheel and seats that have seen better days. On the bright side, the floor pans have already been replaced, so hopefully there’s no trouble there. Ultimately, this is what I think of as an inexpensive foray into the world of collector cars. There’s certainly nothing out there with more support, parts availability and easy to find expertise. I’m tempted to make a trip to Tennessee myself! Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Eric M.

    I don’t think it’s a super beetle, as the seller states. I had several beetles in the 90’s, including a 72 super beetle. The supers had a curved windshield, the standards were all flat. But it looks like a great deal for a ‘vert. The body work on the front is relatively easy to do in the driveway. But I wonder what that little patch on the back is too…

    • jim s

      1971/1972 super beetles had flat windshields and 1973 and on had curved, i think.

    • Albert

      1971 & 72 had flat windshields. 73-75 super sedans and 73-79 super convertibles all had the rounded windshield.

  2. viking

    All vw 1965 and on have curved wind shields, .64 and earlier is flat. This looks like a super beetle to me , it would have Mc Pearson strut front suspension, and wider hood at the bottom as this one has

    • Albert

      Viking, none of what you said, other than the super beetle info is correct.

  3. jim s

    i think the year is wrong, if it is a super it is 1971/72 which brings the title into question. looking at the photos i am not sure what happened to this in its life but it needs a very good PI to see if there are enough good parts to match the asking price. i see overspray, missing parts and a lot of damage. this one needs a lot of work, even if the floorpan was fixed the right way. i think. interesting find.

    • Sam

      You’re right, it’s not a 73. The taillights are wrong. It could be a 71/72.

  4. Mark in Medford

    It looks like the fenders are molded to the body, not a big fan of that. And what is the deal with the little scoops above the rear fenders ?

  5. DonM

    Viking, I think you’re off by a decade. I had a 71 SB Cabrolet. Great car. I went shopping for a second (non-convertible) bug and on my first test drive, couldn’t figure out why I was so cramped. That’s when I realized that on a convertible, the side windows are vertical where on a hardtop, the upper doors are angled in towards the top, resulting in a LOT less shoulder room.

    Also, it isn’t obvious how the top is folded down. If you can see out of the inside rear view, you did it wrong. There is a section of the top you need to pull out so that it can go down fully.

  6. Richard A.

    It looks to be a 1971 Super Beetle with the 90 mph speedometer and the horizontal air intakes on the rear deck lid, plus the smaller tail lights. 72’s had a 100 mph speedometer, vertical intake openings on the deck lid, and the same tailights. But it has an alternator, so maybe the engine is newer. The 1973 and newer Super Beetles had the curved windshield, more intake openings and bigger tailights. If it’s titled as a 74, then it’s got some problems. Buyer beware!

  7. Joe T

    It’s a Super Beetle. You can tell by the shape of the front fenders and the shape of the trunk lid and front apron. The Super got a curved windshield from 73 on and would have had the larger round taillights as well. The rear fenders could have been changed but I believe this is more likely a 71 or 72 Super Beetle. However, without the VIN I am only speculating.

  8. Dolphin Member

    A VW convertible can be a fun summer driver, and very cheap. I had a used Beetle as a DD years ago at a depreciation cost of exactly $50/year when I sold it.

    But if someone wants a nice solid, stock convertible I would be careful with this one. In addition to the potential model year/title problems mentioned, it could be a long road to get this car back to stock, especially if the bodywork on the car that Mark mentioned isn’t easily reversed. And any time I see a cheap aftermarket steering wheel like the one on this car I take it as a bad sign. Often a PPI will show that the young turk who owned it put his $$ into bling and bad mods rather than maintenance and repairs.

    I get the feeling that it’s more than fully priced even at the affordable B-I-N price. I would rather pay more up front and get one that hasn’t been messed with.

  9. Horse Radish

    “Funky”
    is the best I can describe this as….
    I think I would pass on this at this price !

  10. David C

    You guys are on the right track. It is or appears to be a 1971 Super Convertible.
    The price is a little high for the condition in my opinion.
    I prefer the later Superbettle’s, 1973 is the most desirable to me. It is the first year with the curved windshield and dash and the last with the non-shock absorbed bumpers.

  11. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    I appreciate the knowledge here…I’ll be honest, I thought it was a pretty decent price even given the lack of originality. Dolphin, I agree 100% on the steering wheel, it’s a red flag for me too. I’m not interested in original, though, so it would still work for me. Have to get the housing situation in order first, anyway.

    • David C

      This might be a better option. I saw this one on craigslist.

      columbusga.craigslist.org/cto/4887445707.html

  12. James g

    I’ve seen that beetle on Craigslist 3 months ago

  13. viking

    DonM, I am not off by a decade. I have owned and operated three vw and Porsche repair shops for twenty years. 1964 and earlier vdubs windshield is as flat as a wall mirror,1965 and later has a slight curvature on them, I have installed plenty of both.

  14. Andrew S Mace Member

    Count me with others who imply that one should RUN, not walk, away from this particular car! ;)

  15. Albert

    This car isn’t bad, but for the money it’s not that great of a deal. There are lots of really nice turnkey beetles out there for $4k.

  16. viking

    Albert, it seems to me, you don’t know very much about different years of Volkswagens. I am a professional vw mechanic, I recognize different years!

  17. Patrick McC.

    It’s not the bodywork that concerns me, it’s the rust repair. These later models have layers upon layers of metal for support that I have seen to be real buggers when it comes to repairing prone places such as heater channels, support rails, fender wells, etc… If this car checks out to have little or no rust, the time and money one would save in rust repairs would make a nice paint job. Who doesn’t want a late model cabriolet that has embraced the ’90s? (I don’t; my Midget has and it was not a good era for cars!).

  18. Mark W

    71or72 Super Beetle. Sure hope the floor pans look better than the body repairs. I can see the exhaust pipe on number 4 cylinder…that means the rear cooling tin is missing…great way to cook an engine.

  19. Jeff Lavery Staff

    I definitely want to own a Bug someday, but I am heavily oriented towards the earlier versions. The oval windows are out of my price range, but the ones directly after with the small tail lights = yum.

  20. Joe T

    I emailed the owner for more info and was told the VIN is 1142018030. IIRC a VIN starting with 114 is a standard Beetle not a Super. However, VW didn’t build any convertibles based on the standard chassis in 1974.

    @David C
    If you can pick up a Euro spec Super, they don have the shock absorbing bumpers. I have a 76 Convertible that came with factory disc brakes and the 1600 is not fuel injected.

  21. Mark in Medford

    I wonder how many cars this car is made from ? I hate that bonnet with no body lines.

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