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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
- 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.