Astound your spouse and your friends with your vast VW knowledge! They all look the same, but to the trained eye they are very different! Here are a few distinguishing features (there were many, many other changes through the years -- for a complete listing, see Changes Through the Years -
See below for distinguishing features between Standards and Supers.
- 1948 - ‘Pope's nose" licence plate light.
- 1950 - Small emblem hubcap replaced big emblem.
- 1951 - Wolfsburg crest on front hood.
- 1952 - Redesigned "Pope's nose" number plate light.
- 1953 - After 10 March, split rear window became one-piece oval.
- 1955 - Flashing blinkers replace semaphores (US models).
- 1956 - Bumper over-riders added.
- 1958 - Front blinkers moved to top of fenders.
- 1961 - Sun visor and grab handle for passenger.
- 1962 - Fuel gauge replaces reserve tap.
- 1963 - Wolfsburg crest discontinued.
- 1964 - Larger front turn signals and licence plate light.
- 1966 - Bigger rear view mirror.
- 1967 - "Volkswagen" badge on engine lid. Back-up lights (on US models). US models get sealed beam headlights. Driver's outside mirror becomes standard.
- 1968 - Larger ‘flat bottom' tail lights.
- 1969 - Double joint rear axles (so called IRS) on all US models.
- 1970 - Two sets of air intake slots added to engine lid.
- 1971 - Superbug with McPherson strut (vertical coil spring) front suspension introduced.
- 1972 - Engine lid gets four sets of air slots.
- 1973 - Stronger bumpers, Large round (Elephant Foot) tail lights.
- 1974 - Self-restoring energy absorbing bumpers.
- 1975 - Fuel Injection introduced. Single tailpipe. Last year of Superbug in US.
- 1976 - Rear window defogger.
- 1977 - Last year of beetle in the US. :-(
Standards vs. Supers
Super Bugs are very easy to spot from directly ahead (or in the mirrors when a Bug is following you) -- the Super Bugs have a downward sloping support to the bottom of the suspension strut visible under the car, just inboard of the wheels. Just stand about 20 feet in front of your Bug and look at the front wheels and you'll see what I mean. The standard bugs don't have that (since they have trailing arms behind the torsion bar tubes).
Another little feature I've noticed is that the Bugs with independent rear suspension (IRS) have a different (bigger) support at the bottom of the rear shock absorber, which is quite apparent when traveling behind a Bug. This helps identify the year of the Bug. In Australia we got IRS in 1971 for manuals and '68 for semi-autos, so if I see that feature with a solid engine lid, then it's almost certainly a '68 or '69 semi-auto.
Bug spotting is fun.
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