Turnkey 1978 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

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Some classics are undeniably cool, and this 1978 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible fits that mold. Its overall condition is impressive, and its interior bears little resemblance to what owners received with earlier versions. There are Convertibles that are faster and more luxurious, but few will turn heads as readily as this little gem. The fact it is a turnkey classic adds to its appeal, and with summer on our doorsteps, it could be the ideal vehicle for a spot of top-down touring. The Beetle is listed here on Barn Finds Classifieds in Polk City, Florida. It could be yours for $12,500, making it an affordable alternative for those seeking fun in the sun.

Volkswagen hit a sweet spot with the original Beetle and saw little reason to change the winning formula that helped the Volkswagen Group to evolve into the automotive behemoth we see today. Changes were largely evolutionary, although the Beetle began to feel the pinch during the 1970s in the face of growing competition from Japan and other European manufacturers. Still, the Beetle soldiered on, selling in respectable numbers. This Convertible rolled off the line in 1978 and is a wonderful survivor. Its Blue Metallic paint shines beautifully, and if there are any imperfections, they are too minor to warrant serious consideration. The panels are as straight as an arrow, and this classic has no evidence of rust. The Black soft-top is free from rips and other problems, while the trim and glass are excellent. The styled steel wheels round out an exterior that is impressive enough to receive positive comments and a big thumbs-up wherever it goes.

The design brief for the original Beetle was elegantly simple. Ferdinand Porsche produced a car that could comfortably seat four people and was affordable transport for the masses. Little consideration was given to creature comfort beyond a heater and the interior featured acres of painted steel and a minimum of vinyl upholstery. Wind the clock forward three decades, and the story is very different. The 1978 Beetle featured far fewer painted surfaces and a more modern dash design, using plastic and faux woodgrain trim. This car earns extra points for its clock and aftermarket radio/cassette player. The overall presentation is impressive, with no evidence of wear or damage on any surfaces. The dash hasn’t succumbed to UV exposure, and there is no crumbling plastic. I’ve previously referenced how challenging it is to disguise a substandard interior in a classic Convertible, but there are no such issues with the Volkswagen. The new owner can hit the road with the top down and their head held high.

When a manufacturer hits upon a winning formula, it rarely wants to change it. Volkswagen subscribed to that philosophy, with the Beetle featuring a rear-mounted air-cooled flat-four feeding a four-speed manual transmission throughout its production life. So robust is the Beetle’s drivetrain that an unmodified vehicle became the first two-wheel drive passenger car to be used regularly by residents of the Antarctic Research Stations. It never gave an ounce of trouble and still ran and drove perfectly when it returned to warmer climates. By 1978, the Beetle’s engine capacity had climbed to 1,585cc, with power and torque figures of 48hp and 73 ft/lbs. Outright acceleration wasn’t the aim of the exercise with the Beetle, with the company focusing on effortless long-distance touring at constant speeds. Even the early cars could cruise on the Autobahn at 60mph, and this Beetle will be no different. Its original engine has no fluid leaks or other problems and is as strong as the day it was built. The car runs and drives perfectly and is a turnkey proposition for its new owner.

The Volkswagen Beetle enjoyed one of the longest production runs in automotive history, with the last air-cooled example rolling off the company’s Mexican production line in 2003. Many people mourned its passing because an incredible 21.5 million of these little gems “dack-dacked” their way across the globe before the end came. They became the preferred means of transport for many people on low incomes because they were cheap and easy to maintain. They are now very desirable cult classics. This 1978 Convertible is a beauty, and the price is highly competitive. If top-down cruising is high on your list of priorities, no car will offer as much fun for your money. That’s why it deserves a close look.

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  1. Big C

    I never liked the look of these Bug’s with the top down. Always looked like an afterthought. But this car looks new, and is half price of what I’ve seen these converts going for. GLWTS.

    Like 3
  2. KurtMember

    Beautiful car. That Bosch fuel injection proved troublesome and because it was built after 1975 cannot be replaced with a carb. Several manufacturers are now building excellent replacements for the original Bosch system but can’t say that would get passed the government here in Kali.

    Like 2
    • OldVWGuy

      1975 or older is CA smog exempt. Not every county requires testing. Appears to be a nice example at a great price … enough to save $ by letting it sit for 4 years! (But, maintain it like the 45-yo car that it is. Otherwise, any air-cooled VW will quickly remind you.)

      Like 1
    • DCSaturns

      That engine is wearing a PICT 34 carb, not fuel injection.

      Like 2
  3. Greg G

    From what l can see this is a solid VW beetle beautiful color and priced accordingly. I’ve always been a fan of the VW super beetle convertible as a young man. I like it. and this car is just as nice even though it’s not a super beetle.

    Like 0
    • Rabbit

      That IS a Super. If you look at the trunk photo, the spare tire lies flat. In a standard Beetle, it would stand nearly upright, in front of the fuel tank. Apparently, the EFI was swapped out for a carb at some point (good move). I’d pay $12K for this car all day, except for my lack of a place to put it. We already have a Beetle problem at my place. :P

      Like 1

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