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Original Paint: 1971 Volkswagen Beetle

July 30th, 2003, was a significant date in automotive history that passed with very little fanfare. On that day, the last Type 1 VW Beetle rolled off the production line in Puebla, Mexico. This brought down the curtain for a model that first saw the light of day some 65-years earlier. This 1971 Beetle is a survivor because it still wears its original paint. It spent some time hidden away in a shed but has now been returned to good mechanical health. The time has come for it to find a new home. It is located in Buellton, California, and is listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding currently sits at $7,900, and the reserve has been met.

It would seem that this little VW has spent its life in Arizona and California, and that has helped it to remain rust-free. The owner supplies photos of the vehicle’s underside, and it appears to be clean and solid. The panels are also free from rust issues, along with any significant dings or dents. The Clementine Orange paint is said to be original. If this is true, then it has survived remarkably well. It has a few small marks and chips, but it still presents well for a vehicle that is close to celebrating its 50th birthday. The exterior trim and chrome seem to be in good condition, while I can’t spot any problems with the glass.

Mechanically the news seems to be all good with the Beetle. We find that hiding in the engine bay is a 1,585cc air-cooled flat-four engine that should be producing 60hp. This power finds its way to the rear wheels via a 4-speed manual transaxle. So far, then, it is all standard VW fare. However, the engine and transmission both received a rebuild some years back. The vehicle only saw limited use before it was parked in a shed for several years. The owner recently dragged the Beetle out of hiding. He rebuilt the brakes, fitted a new carburetor, and new tires, and this classic has roared back to life. It is said to start easily, and it runs and drives perfectly. It sounds like the wide-open road is beckoning this old beauty. Since the rebuild work was completed, the Beetle has only accumulated around 500 miles.

Given its exposure to UV rays throughout its life, you would be forgiven if you expected the Beetle’s interior to be looking pretty sad. Nothing could be further from the truth. The owner admits that the seat covers have been changed at some point, but the rest is believed to be original. It’s hard to find much to be critical of because it simply looks like a tidy survivor. Some of the plastic on the dash is showing some discoloring, but it is still presentable. A CD player has been fitted into the dash, and I’d probably look at doing a neater job of that. An aftermarket adaptor trim piece is available online for about $30. This fits behind the CD player’s face and provides a neater installation. I believe that this would be money well spent. Otherwise, the upholstery is clean and free from rips, while the carpet is in good condition.

The 1971 model year marked the most successful for the Beetle, with more than 1.1 million people giving this quirky classic a home. However, the writing was on the wall, as many manufacturers, especially the Japanese, had moved forward in leaps and bounds with their small car development. American manufacturers were joining the party, and suddenly the Beetle was starting to show its age. The general buying public fell out of love with the Beetle during the 1970s, but the devotion shown by enthusiasts never wavered. Today, good examples are highly sought, and that would easily explain why the bidding on this survivor has been so spirited. Would you consider joining the bidding party?


  1. angliagt angliagt Member

    Buellton,CA,home of Anderson’s Split Pea Soup!

    Like 2
    • MrBZ

      The best!!

      Like 1
      • CVPanther Member

        VEGAN split pea soup??
        Never…. The ham is what makes it.

        Like 1
  2. alphasud Member

    My first car a 72 Super Beetle in the same color. 71 and 72 Super Beetles retained the flat windshield but got the McPherson strut front end. For many years this model was somewhat unloved due to the suspension. Any play or wear in the steering or suspension will cause death wobble. Also wheels are not hub centric so getting wheel runout is very difficult. I run Fuchs wheels on my 71 and it’s not too bad. Also this car should have a vacuum advance distributor which really lowers head temps on cruise and gives the car better drivability. My car is running a Subaru 2.5 SOHC with factory fuel injection. I used to drive it to work every day and it returned low 30’s MPG doing 80. With over 150HP these will sneak up on you. It’s a fun sleeper.

    Like 11
    • Rabbit

      Nice catch on the 009 distributor. They had a bit better torque curve for around town, but yes, could lead to overheating, esp on #3 cylinder.
      It also looks to have an undersized aluminum “power pulley” on the crank, which allegedly gives you an extra couple ponies by turning the fan & generator slower, but again, cooling issues.
      The Subie motor swap sounds neat. My brother & I used to convert Type IV engines to upright fan (ala Joe Cali), punch them out & get about 120 horses, but there went the reliability. Anyway…this looks to be a fairly honest car. Somebody’s gonna get a nice one. Another great write-up from Adam!

      Like 3
    • jeffro

      I had a 70 Bug with a Kennedy Engineered Products adapter plate. Hooked up was a Mazda 12A rotary. Fun little car. Disc brakes on front with lowered suspension. Rode on rails. Wish I still had it.

  3. Fred W

    As a teenage gearhead kid in the 70’s with access to my dad’s workshop, i found Bugs to be incredibly easy to work on – I could drop the engine with very little help. Dad, A WW II veteran, didn’t exactly welcome the “Kraut Buckets” into the garage with open arms, but I think after seeing how well built and reliable they were, he had some respect for German engineering.

    Like 7
  4. Louis Q Chen

    I’m confused, I bought a brand new Super Beetle in 1971. This BF doesn’t look like mine! Mine had the bigger bulging windshield and and chrome trimmed rubber wind shield seal. Unless this BF is a different version of the 1971 Super beetle? I recalled that when the 1971 Super Beetle came out it touted the McPherson struts front end and a bulging windshield as a major new improvement! I aslo remembered that there was two versions of the Beetle. The regular bug with the flat windshield and no chrome trim windshield rubber seal and the seals on side widows. The Super Bug had the bigger bulging windshield. Would some Kafer lover explain? If I live closer, I’d drop by and take a look and may make an offer!

    Like 1
    • alphasud Member

      73 was the first year for the curved windshield and redesigned dash. 75 they changed from the steering box to a better steering rack design. 75 was also the first year of EFI. I always look for the grill below the bumper and the bulbous hood as that’s the give away for a SB.

      Like 4
  5. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    This one is a Beetle. Just like the one I bought new in 1971.

    The Super Beetle was around $100 more and had the bulging windshield.

    Like 6
    • dsp83gti

      Beetle spare tires were upright. Super spares laid down. 71 and 72 Supers had flat windshields.

      Like 1
    • Steve RM

      alphasud is right. The super Beetle came out in 71 but didn’t get the bulging windshield until 73.

      Like 2
  6. MK Ultra

    I believe the fender welting should be back. It looks like it has been painted over. Also, looks like a skosh of orange paint overspray in the plastic vents in rear pillar. Makes me wonder about the original paint claim. But a nice looking car.

    Like 2
  7. steve

    when I hear subie motor in a bug.Put these turkeys up against the wall…Oh almost forgot not last cig..put your subbie motor in your subie..

    Like 1
  8. JoeNYWF64

    Today with so little power, this is a car best for use around town & on highways with lights & 45-50mph speed limits. & on not so cold days.
    & probably avoid mountains too.

    • Steve RM

      My stock 67 will cruise at 70 no problem. Also, with new (working properly) heater boxes it keeps plenty warm. The defrosters aren’t the best though and a long steep hill might require third gear but it’s a blast to drive and easy to work on. I have a modern car for a daily driver and while I like it, if it ever breaks I’m sure it will be an expensive repair bill. If my Bug breaks I know that I can fix it.

      Like 4
  9. Paul

    My Dad had a 73 Super Beetle, fastest stock Bug I ever drove. My family owned multiple VWs in the 70s, and I actually owned 3 Bugs and a Bus when my son was born in mid 80s. I miss those VWs. My son actually drove aVW bug in high school in early 2000s, it had a “Herbie” paint job on it.

    Like 1
  10. Vic M

    That is a regular Beetle. I had a 1972, same color. Difference was that rear lid had 4 vents vs the two on the 71. 73s went to the round tail lamps. Fun car in it’s time, went through anything. Not much top speed (about 90 MPH).
    There are enough fans out there that it will find a home.

    • Steve RM

      It’s a super beetle. Look at the front suspension. No torsion bars.
      McPherson struts.

      Like 1
      • ESRick.

        Bought a 1971 Super Beetle in 1974. Mine was an ugly beige, but had air conditioning. It was otherwise similar to this one. Looks like the windshield and rear window were both replaced at some point with the cheaper window gaskets without the chrome trim. Fender gaskets were body color on these. All Super Beetles had the grills under the front bumper. The bigger curved wind shield started in 1973. The 71’s had the two grill arrangement on the rear hood. Later models had more. The fuel pump has also been replaced at some point. The headliner is not right around the rear window. Plus the sun visors are shot. The paint on the right rear fender is a different shade of orange than the paint above it. Lots of interior parts need replacing and a good repaint would have this thing looking a lot better. I see it’s now sold. Somebody probably got a good running car that needs a few thousand and some time put in it to bring it up to a level to show, or just enjoy for many years to come.

  11. Brad

    Had a new ‘73 paid $2900. FoR it
    This is too much $$

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