1974 VOLKSWAGEN Beetle Jeans “Frostrite” Special EditionView vehicle description
Despite being in production for 36 years to that point, Volkswagen’s 1974 Jeans Beetle was still seen as a vitally important model for broadening its parent firm’s (admittedly limited) breadth of production. There was no getting around the fact that the Beetle was old; its second coming as the hippie’s favourite form of transport was already waning by the mid-1970s. Remember too, the success of the Beetle’s replacement, the Golf, was by no means assured. VW had tried on several previous occasions to replace the Beetle and had failed to repeat even a tiny slice of the Beetle’s success.
The Jeans Beetle was intended to spice up the old Bug’s image, improving its appeal among a younger more sporting-aware audience. Based on the Beetle 1200, the Jeans edition got racy black side stripes with blacked-out door handles, headlamp surrounds and black bumpers to match. More importantly, it got the denim interior and yellow stitching that gave this limited edition its name. The overall effect was a Beetle that was cool again, even if it was for a fleeting moment before Golf GTI mania gripped Europe.
Not only is this a Jeans Beetle, it’s an even more limited and special vehicle than that. This is a ‘Frostrite’ (no that’s not a typo) dealer special. Modified from Jeans spec still further by Cambridge VW dealer Jack Frost, this Jeans is thought to be the only one left in existence. To create a Frostrite Beetle, a black vinyl top was added by the Cambridge concern to further enhance the black-out theme. Though Jack Frost also put some bling back in, with chrome finger plates, rain gutter trims and rear grilles. The Frostrite was also loaded with desirable optional extras (for a Beetle anyway); a passenger sun visor, Blaupunkt ‘Wolfsburg’ stereo, ‘sports’ wooden gear knob and a fuel gauge within the speedometer were all thrown in.
This Frostrite Beetle was bought by the vendor in 1996 from the car’s first owner and former Jack Frost customer. The vendor worked at the local VW dealership and remembered PDI checking this car when it was brand new. Realising the significance of the model, he leapt at the chance to own it. Health issues and age now unfortunately mean that he’s no longer able to enjoy using the car. But his family has since restored the car back to its former glory (they own a specialist repair/restoration business) which is why this unique slice of VW history is on offer for the first time in a quarter of a century.
On the Outside
That yellow (Tunis Gelb in case you were wondering) certainly responds well to sunlight, contrasting perfectly with the black accents. The restoration of this Beetle was a labour of love and it’s lovely to know that the family of the chap who worked at the original supplying dealership did all the work. It’s good work too, the standard of the paintwork and finish is high. Those black side stirpes look new and are aligned perfectly.
We did notice however, that the nearside rear wing isn’t quite flush with the rear panel at its bottom edge (look straight on from behind). There’re also a few imperfections in the vinyl top, mainly around its edges and where it tucks under the boot lid. There’s also a small object under the vinyl, near the offside corner, that’s lifting the fabric. The optional 15-inch Lemmerz GT wheels look great and have been refurbished including new rubber. Some new door rubbers have been added too, the driver’s side a little reluctant to let the door close. Overall though this Beetle gives a make a great first impression with plenty of shine to its paint and no obvious imperfections in the panels.
On the Inside
Spartan is the word that sums up most Beetle cabins and this one’s no different. Though the extras do make things a bit more comfortable and useable. The denim seats are the originals and despite an attempt at recolouring, they’re looking tired. As usual, the driver’s seat has fared far worse with a few large tears in its fabric. Both need a retrim really to restore them to their former glory, the rear bench remains in pretty good shape. The seats are still perfectly comfortable and useable until you get around to taking them to the trim shop. Let’s just hope said specialist can find the right denim…
Beetles are no strangers to corrosion of course, so we looked long and hard in the door shuts, sill tops, floors and under the carpets – in the frunk especially the spare-wheel well – and can report that we didn’t find anything significant. There’s a frilly edge to the bottom of the driver’s door from past corrosion but it wasn’t deemed bad enough to replace, which was probably the right call as it’s only a small strip. There’s a small patch of damage to an otherwise flawless headlining on the driver’s side outer edge. Everything in the cabin works as it should, including the radio, and on our brief test drive the mechanical bits felt strong and willing.
Beetle bodies are, of course, mounted on a flat-floor chassis. The condition of which is therefore paramount in determining its value. The vendor reports that this Beetle was kept in storage for many years and only taken out and used on special occasions (including his wedding). That meant it was already in fine order by the time it was stripped down for its restoration. In fact, the vendor tells us that just one front and one back wing needed to be replaced, the rest of the shell was free of any significant corrosion.
It’s abundantly clear from a glance under this Beetle that every inch of it has seen attention. There are new brackets, bolts, rubbers and bushes everywhere you look. In fact, it’s harder to spot the bits that aren’t brand new. Though we did see some lower shock bushes that had a few cracks in them, the general condition of the running gear appears to be first rate. There are a couple of tiny spots of surface corrosion on parts of the floor (nearside front) that have somehow escaped the underseal but other than that, it’s all looking ready for taking on some year-round miles under here.
There’s a lovely selection of pristine VW literature in the history file for this unique Beetle. Owner’s manual, original warranty card and instruction manual all appear not to have never been read and the plastic wallet that contains them is in a similarly mint condition. There’s also what appears to be an invitation to the car’s unveiling at Blenheim Palace (or possibly the new Golf’s?).
MoT certificates can be seen from 1995 to 1997 when the car was used more frequently on the highways and byways of Cambridgeshire. The supplying dealer stamp confirms its delivery inspection and the service history stamps show it remained in the care of Jack Frost until 1980. Because the car remained in the same family, there’s very little else in the way of paperwork from here on.
What We Think
A recently fully restored limited edition Beetle would be enough to provoke the interest of most VW fans, but add to that a limited dealer special version of a limited edition and you’ve perhaps piqued the interest of the wider classic car community.
This Beetle has a fantastic back story, coming from the same family ownership for much of its life. The vendor is a knowledgeable VW enthusiast that appears to have put that know-how into restoring this unique Beetle to a very high standard.
We’ve therefore no doubt the next owner will be the envy of the show field wherever they decide to park from Santa Pod to Bicester Heritage; this Beetle will turn heads. That’s why we’re placing a reserve of between £11,000 to £14,000 on this important piece of Volkswagen history.
Viewing is always encouraged and as stated this car is located with the vendor in Saffron Walden, Essex, and to arrange an appointment please use the ‘Contact Seller’ button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.
If needed, please remember we have a network of suppliers we work with regularly including: Classic & Sportscar Finance for purchase-financing, Footman James for classic car insurance, Classic Concierge for storing your car plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping.
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