Make your own free website on

Beetle changes over the years

First prototype beetle. 1000 (984) engine, 22hp, 5.8 to 1 compression ratio.

Chassis #91922 to 138554. Solex carburetor made standard equipment. Air flap control on fan shroud discontinued. License plate indentation on rear deck dropped. Inside pull cable release for front hood is added, eliminating lock on old style L-shaped twist handle. Small emblem hubcap replaces big emblem hubcap.

Chassis #138555 to 220471. Cloth Sunroof introduced as an option. Cable Brakes changed to Hydraulic on export models. Starting crankhole discontinued on Cabriolet in late 1950. Sound muffler put in heater ducts. Heat riser added to intake manifold. Automatic engine cooling temperature control with the thermostat. Offset piston wrist pin to reduce piston slap. Tougher alloys for exhaust valves and inserts.

Chassis #220472 to 313829. Chrome garnish molding added to windshield. Wolfsburg crest added to front hood above handle. Vent flaps added to front quarter panels on export models. Double-acting telescopic shocks replace rear lever shocks. Glove box door now standard on convertibles. One heavy valve spring replaces the two used before.

Chassis #313830 to 428156. Crankshaft end play adjustment with three shims. Tire size changed from 5.00x16 to 5.6x15. Six leaved torsion bars added for increased suspension travel. New instrument panel. late 1952 26 PCI carburetor with accelerator pump replaced the old 28 VFIS. "A" transmission with three synchronized gears replaced the old crash box. Number of turns made by the window crank changed from 10-1/2 to 3-1/4. Vent windows added. Vent flaps in front quarter body panels discontinued. Pull-type heating control knob replaced by rotary control knob. "T" type rear hood handle replaces loop type handle. Twin brake and taillights replace center-mounted single version. Single glove box gets a door and replaces the two open bins. Turn signal control moved to steering wheel from dashboard. Interior light moved to center pillar by driver's door. Bumpers and guards strengthened and enlarged. New rear license plate light housing. Self-canceling windshield wipers. Starting crankhole discontinued on all models.

Chassis #428157 to 575414. One rear window glass instead of two. Lock button added to vent window handles. Brake fluid reservoir moved from master cylinder to behind spare tire. Exterior trim improved with anti-corrosive alloy. Handle added to dash ashtray. Changed third and fourth gear ratios. Changed valve setting to .004". Late 1953 Combination vacuum and mechanical advance distributor added. Increased generator output to 160 watts. Break-in driving requirement for engine dropped.

Chassis #575415 to 722934. 1200 engine, 30hp, 6.1 to 1 compression ratio. Larger intake valves. Cylinder heads redesigned to provide better cooling for the valves and plugs. 28 PCI carburetor. Starter switch taken off dash and incorporated with ignition switch. Three-way interior light. Late 1954 6.6 to 1 compression ratio.

Chassis #722935 to 929745. From 1955 the model changes always came in August, Meaning that model 1956 started in 8.4.55. This is very confusing, when speaking about model year and the year the car was made are two different things. Model years normally follow all the major changes (but there are exceptions as when the new larger taillights with separate chamber for turn signal was introduced in 5/2/61). Flashing turn signals mounted low on front fenders replace semaphores. Top window in rear taillight housing dropped. Dished steering wheel. New gearshift lever moved forward.

Chassis #929746 to 1246618. Optional sunroof now made of plastic instead of cloth. Optional sunroof is a little smaller than previous year. Gear shift handle now is curved instead of straight. Taillight housing moved 2 inches higher & redesigned with one window only. Bumper overriders added to bumper. Chromed dual tail pipes replace single tail pipe on export models. Black Enamel dual tail pipes are installed on standard models. Steering wheel spoke moved lower off center. Adjustable, wider front seats. Heater knob moved forward. Redesigned gas tank yields larger luggage space. Larger oil pump mounting shaft. Number four main bearing clearance modified. Copper-plated fulcrum plates in universals. Starter motor horsepower increased. Fuel filter tap removed. Late 1956 front floor heater outlet moved rearward. Tubeless tires introduced.

Chassis #1246619 to 1600439. Optional sunroof is again a little smaller than previous year. Oil gallery sizes increased. Metal camshaft gear. Ring and pinion ratio changed. Brake pedal leverage increased. Adjustable striker plates in doors.

Chassis #1600440 to 2007615. New instrument panel. Larger Windshield. Larger rear window. Frame head reinforced. Front turn signals moved to top of fenders. Rear deck lid redesigned. Flat type accelerator replaces roller type. Horizontal air inlets replaced vertical inlets on convertibles. A new dished steering wheel. Radio grille moved left in front of driver. Wider brake drums and shoes. New clutch release assembly with stronger clutch springs. Third and fourth gear ratio changed.

Chassis #2007616 to 2528667. Outer front suspension control arm bushings changed to needle roller bearings. Frame reinforced for greater strength. Anti-sway bar added. Improved fan belt. Stronger clutch springs added.

Safety recessed steering wheel. Steering dampener added. "hour glass" Gemmer steering box is worm and peg instead of worm and roller. Generator output increased from 160 to 180 watts. Outside door handles are now push button instead of pull type. Padded sun visor replaces dark plastic sun visor. Seat back contoured for greater comfort. Wolfsburg crest on front hood less colorful.

1200 engine, 40hp, 7 to 1 compression ratio. Fuel pump is now located to the right of the distributor. Generater stand is no longer cast as part of the block. Lifters & pushrods are no longer a one-piece unit. Valves are now angled in the cylinder heads. 28 PICT carburetor with automatic choke. New tunnel-type "AB" "Fully Synchronized" transmission. Vacuum advance distributor. Positive crankcase ventilation. Flatter gas tank. 28 blade cooling fan. Permanently greased tie rod ends. "Sissy Bar" added. Non-repeat starter switch. Wider front brake shoes and linings. Transparent brake fluid reservoir. Push-on connectors for the wiring system. Pump-type windshield washer. Larger heater pipes. Sunvisor and grab-handle provided for passenger side.

Fuel gauge replaces reserve fuel tap. Switch made from glass to plastic tail lights. Spring balanced front hood. Sliding covers on heat outlets. Progressive type valve springs. Anchor points for seat belts. Stronger clutch springs. Windshield washer uses spare tire for air pressure. Last year semaphores are offered on non-export models.

Fresh air heating "Clean-air" engine with redesigned fan housing, muffler, and heat exchangers. Leatherette head lining. Folding handle for sunroof. Nylon window guides. Foam sandwich floor mats. Wolfsburg hood crest discontinued.

Metal replaces fabric in optional sunroof. Horn activated by two thumb buttons replaces half-ring. Bent vacuum pipe-formerly a loop. Larger front turn signals. Larger license plate light. Aerated vinyl material replaces non-porous leatherette seat upholstery. late 1964 28 PICT-1 Carburetor.

Master cylinder and wheel cylinders changed. New cooling air control system with flaps in the bottom of the fan housing. Heater efficiency improved. Lever type heater and defroster controls replace rotary knob. Window and windshield area increased with slightly curved windshield. Slimmer door and windshield posts. Window vent made smaller, angled back, and lock moved from bottom to side. More powerful windshield wipers and longer wiper blades. New chassis numbering system. Thinner, deeply contoured front seats. Increased rear seat knee room. Rear seat folds flat to hold more stuff. Change from T-handle to pushbutton engine hood latch. Swivel mounted sun visors. Push-button catch on engine lid. Dome light incorperated in rear-view mirror assembly on convertibles.

1300 engine, 50hp. "1300" added to rear deck. 30 PICT-1 carburetor. Cam bearings started. Emergency blinker switch. Ventilated wheel slots and flatter hub caps. Larger Rear View Mirror. Headlight dimmer switch mounted on turn signal handle instead of floor. Center dashboard defroster outlet. Semi-circular horn ring. Ball joint front suspension replaces king pin suspension. Better torsion bars and shocks. Needle wheel bearings replace round wheel bearings.

1500 engine, 53hp. "Volkswagen" added to rear deck. Squared-off looking rear hood. Rear bumper overriders redesigned to clear new deck lid. Changed from 6 to 12 volt system in middle of year. Generator increased from 180 to 360 watts with change from 6 to 12 volts. Voltage regulator now mounted under rear seat instead of on generator. Wider swing axels provide wider track in rear. Clutch disk increased in size from 180 to 200 mm. 130 tooth (200mm) flywheel replaces 109 tooth (180mm) flywheel. Dual master cylinder brake system. Outside door handle has round push button. Recessed inside plastic door handles. Two-speed windshield wipers. Back-up lights. Single unit headlights. Locking buttons on doors. Driver armrest added. Slimmer outside chrome trim. Left outside mirror becomes standard equipment. Z-Bar added to rear suspension in an attempt to improve handling.

Automatic stick shift with double jointed rear axles added as an option. New bumpers. Hubcaps are now even flatter than before. Beginning of plastic dashes on bugs. Big black knob added to vent window handle. Gear shifter is now straight instead of crooked. Changed from five to four lug. Bigger front brakes. Bigger rear brakes. Solex 30 PICT-2 carburetor. Gas tank filler moved from under hood to right front fender. Brake fluid reservoir moved from under spare tire to driver side wall. Combined gas gauge into speedometer gauge. Gas gauge is now electrical instead of mechanical. Oil warning light changed from green to red. Outside door handle button now has to be squeezed instead of pushed. Larger tail lights. Head restraints built into front seat backrests. Energy-absorbing collapsible steering column. Exhaust emission control system.

late 1968
Front Hood release moved to glove compartment. Gas filler cover has inside release.

Double-jointed rear axles on all models. Swing axle transaxle is replaced by IRS transaxle. (Independent Rear Suspensn) Warning lights in speedometer identified by letters or symbols. Day/night rear-view mirror. Rear window defroster. Ignition lock combined with steering wheel lock. Warm air outlet at base of the doors moved rearward. Remote control knobs are mounted on door columns.

late 1969
Tenths of mile indicator on odometer.

1600 engine, 57hp. Larger turn signals. Larger tail lights with side reflectors on housing. Air intake slots on engine lid. Added a pressure control valve in lubrication system. (Dual relief case) Solex 30 PICT-3 carburetor. Diaphram spring clutch replaces coil spring clutch to provide quicker engagement with less pedal pressure. Head restraints on front seats reduced in size. Lock in glove compartment door. Remote control knobs for warm air outlets discontinued. Buzzer sounds when door is opened and key is left in ignition. "Formula Vee" Beetle introduced.

late 1970
New third and fourth gears with finer teeth resulted in better mesh and reduced transmission noise.

1600 engine with dual port heads introduced, 60hp. Installed a flow-through air system with vents behind rear windows. Tail lights changed again. Three part intake manifold. Chrome exhaust valve stems. New combination vacuum/centrifugal advance distributor. Installed the activated charcoal filter for the gas tank fumes. Solex 34 PICT-3 carburetor. Door buzzer. New oil cooler which causes a bump in the fan shrouding (dog house style) which cools cylinder number three better. Pressed-in engine mounting nut on the left side of case. New clutch throw-out assembly and ball bearing. Headlights go off when the ignition is off. First year of super beetle. It has McPherson struts and bigger front brakes.

B. Pack writes, "hey you missed one, in 1971 there was a champion edition it had slotted sport wheels with small center caps (slots were on the outside of the rim in a spoke like pattern not at all like the sport bugs (1973)and sport steering wheel and came in steel blue/ grey only (I believe), with stripes similar to the sport bug (of 1973)but had red in it with the black. it had special taper flared exhaust tips and black bumpers?(not 100% positive on the black bumpers though) and I cant recall if it had sport seats but the seats were cloth."

late 1971
Larger oil pump. Different camshaft with four rivets instead three holding camshaft gear. Seperate wiring harness added for VW Computer Analysis system.

Air intake slots on rear hood increased from two to four. Many more hoses and complicated gizmos for smog control. New steering column with safty collapse feature. New distributor with a vacuum retard at idle. Exhaust reburner. (EGR) New muffler. Transmission third and fourth gear synchronizer rings were modified to prevent fourth gear howling which sometimes resulted from a cold transmission. Special "Baja Bug" introduced. Ghia has bigger front disc pads.

late 1972
Tires changed from 5.60x15 to 6.00x15.

Horsepower drops from 60 to 58. Alternator replaces generator in mid-year and increases output to 600W. Improved intake pre-heating for faster cold-weather starts. Huge round taillights and front turn signals. Reinforcement of the engine case in the flywheel area near number 3 cylinder. Softer transmission mounting with different style mounts. More durable, easier to operate clutch. Porsche-style pressure plate. Oil drain plug removed from oil strainer cover. New three point front seats adjustable to 77 different positions. New heavy duty braced doors. New fuel pump redesigned with cutoff valve and made to clear alternator. Front and rear wheel bearings no longer require periodic lubrication. Redesigned fresh air system. Paper filter air cleaner. New curved windshield and expensive, big dash in super beetle. Interior light assembly changed. Stronger bumpers add an inch to overall length. "Sports Bug" introduced.

New self restoring energy absorbing bumpers. New quieter muffler. New cylinder head alloy for better heat dissipation. Steering wheel made more elastic to "give" more in case of an accident. Smaller front seat headrests give better visibility for a change. Computer check sensor pressed into top of block, close to flywheel, to read TDC (top dead center). Computer check sensor to check ignition voltage. Seat belt ignition interlock system added. Seat belt and brake warning lights combined into single unit. Super beetle and convertible have a bit of negative king pin offset for better tracking under braking conditions. Super beetle has a square glove compartment lock instead of round. Warning light for hand brake. Ghia has thicker front disc pads. Last year of Ghia in United States. "Love Bug" and "Sun Bug" introduced.

late 1974
Alternator has an integral regulator. Distributor is now vacuum and centrifically activated.

Fuel injection replaces carburetor. Engine case now made from a better alloy classified as AS21. It retains its original structure and sheds heat better than previous cases. Engine case no longer has a hole for the old mechanical fuel pump. "Fuel Injection" added to rear deck. Larger exhaust valve stems for better heat transfer. Clutch pedal pressure eased. New heat exchangers for greater output. Odometer triggers red warning light "EGR" in speedometer to notify drivers of service requirement. Single tailpipe. Last year of the super beetle in United States. "Le Grande Bug" introduced.

Metallic paint, full carpeting, sports-style wheel rim, and rear window defogger are now standard equipment. Redesigned front seats with improved back adjustments. All trim components chrome-plated. Two-speed fresh air fan standard on all models. Automatic Stick Shift discontinued.

late 1976
New speedometer with outer scale in miles per hour and inner scale in kilometer.

Front seats have new backrests with seperate adjustable headrests. Redesigned door panels. Redesigned pedal pads. Plastic headlight rings replace chrome-plated metal units. Last year of beetle in United States. "Champagne Edition" convertible introduced.

"Champagne II Edition" convertible introduced.

Intermittent windshield wiper system standard equipment. "Epilog" special edition released. Last year of convertible in United States.

Remaining cars built after 12/31/79 carried 1979 serial numbers for emission reasons. Most of the "1980" models were produced during the 1979 production year.

 Copyright  2000- 2004  [webmaster vwfool] All rights reserved. Original Site Created: August 10, 2000