1971 VOLKSWAGEN BEETLEView vehicle description
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The VW Beetle is one of only half-a-dozen cars that can claim to have changed the world. With a design that can trace its roots back to the 1930s, the Beetle was engineered by Ferdinand Porsche to provide low-cost, reliable transport for those for whom the possibility of owning a car had previously been nothing more than a dream; no wonder he christened the company Volkswagen, or ‘people’s car’.
Offered as a two-door saloon as well as a convertible, the Beetle’s low price smote the primary obstacle to owning one, and its mechanical simplicity dealt a similar blow to the second: an air-cooled engine and the very simplest of engineering throughout enabled even the most ham-fisted owner to keep it running on a tight budget.
With a range of engines that only spanned 1100cc to 1600cc, it was cheap to fuel, too, at least compared to the cost of feeding and stabling a couple of horses; you might not view 25mpg as being especially fuel efficient but I’m willing to bet you haven’t seen the cost of hay these days…
However, the proof of the pudding was in the eating and the post-war world lapped them up; the Beetle went on to sell more than 21 million units in a production run that spanned 64 years.
Sixty-four years? Yup, that’s right because the Beetle only went out of production in 2003 after having been assembled in places as diverse as Australia, Finland, Brazil, Belgium, Indonesia, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria, The Philippines, South Africa, Yugoslavia, Venezuela, and Mexico.
Popular even today, the classic Vee-Dub scene seems to split naturally into two camps: originality, and heavily modified. Which brings us to this, our latest auction car, a retro-customized VW Beetle.
Painted in the sort of eye-catching flip paint more usually seen on TVRs, this wonderful 50-year-old car has been given the nickname ‘Joseph’ - or ‘Joseph the Technicolour Dream-Beetle’ when he’s in trouble, presumably.
Which is probably only rarely because the 1300cc engine has been rebuilt recently with a new cylinder head, and the vendor tells us that Joseph now starts, runs and drives very well.
And as for the bodywork, someone has clearly spent an awful lot of money to create their dream car only a few years ago, and all Joseph needs now is someone to bring him back to his former glory.
First registered on the 5th of February 1971, he’s been in the care of the vendor for the past three years and is only being sold because he just hasn’t got the time to get Joseph finished to the standard he deserves.
Being offered with a sensible guide price, the vendor is confident enough in his car to offer it on a no reserve basis, so why not pop on a cheeky bid? After all, we can’t think of a better car to enjoy the post-lockdown summer…
On the Outside
The multi-hued Beetle looks terrific, with a chameleon-like ability to change hue depending on the angle you’re viewing it from. Very far from standard of course, but then the VW world is a broad church and there’s plenty of room for everyone.
The panels are straight and free of dents and dings, and they all align well. The doors open and shut well too, something we’ve found to be one of the more reliable indicators of a well-restored car.
The minimal front and rear ‘bumpers’ won’t be to everyone’s taste either but if you’ve read this far then we’re guessing that you, like us, don’t totally hate them. Nor are we completely against the drilled chrome door handles.
We’re less convinced by the rusty rear engine cover fasteners, but new ones could probably persuade us and you’d be able to source new ones for peanuts via mail order from the myriad suppliers easily enough.
The 15-inch wheels are fitted with bigger tyres at the back to give Joseph a charming, nose-down stance. They’re in great shape too, and shod with good Kumho Solus tyres on the front and Yokohamas on the rear.
Although it looks terrific from ten feet, the Beetle’s paintwork does need a little attention but the degree of work needed is almost certainly less than you might think because most of what looks like damage to the paint is actually just the stickers that are fitted to the bonnet, roof and engine cover.
These have lifted and cracked in sections and will need to be replaced. Sadly, there is no flip paint underneath them, so you can’t just remove them and leave it ‘as is’ but any decent vinyl supplier should be able to craft new ones to fill the gap.
There is also some micro-blistering in the odd small area of paintwork and some damage near the lower hinge on the driver’s door. Please see the photos for details of the areas affected, and the extent of the work needed.
On the Inside
The black vinyl seats are in a decent condition, and if you don’t mind the shabby chic look they are utterly fit for purpose. Almost everyone else will want to replace the driver’s seat, but few cars are as well served as the Beetle and sourcing a good used one would be straightforward and inexpensive.
The wooden Mountney steering wheel is also either a) bloody brilliant; don’t touch it!, or b) Urgh, my eyes! If the latter, then again replacing it would be cheap and easy.
By way of contrast, the door cards are more subtle being finished in a grey suede-like material. They’re in a good condition, and fitted with nice quality modern accoutrements.
The floor mats, on the other hand, look like the sort of thing a penitent hippy might wear for Lent. New ones would – again – be cheap and even easier to fit than the new steering wheel you’ve already priced up. Cosmetic considerations aside, the metal floor underneath looks to be solid and free of corrosion, so that’s one less thing to worry about, eh?
The painted dashboard is finished to a decent standard, and is as simple and elegant as that of any classic Beetle; it contains everything you need and nothing you don’t - and we can’t help thinking that if we could all be a bit more Beetle dashboard we’d almost certainly be a lot happier and content with our lot.
And the gearknob is an eight-ball. But then what else would you fit to a car like this?
Work in July 2015 included a new starter motor and fuel pump, plus some repairs to the car’s lighting circuit.
More recently, in May 2020, the Beetle was treated to a full service plus repairs to its steering and braking systems. The vendor also had the engine rebuilt, work that included a new cylinder head. All-in-all, the work set him back almost £1,300 but was money well-spent as it has left the Beetle fighting fit and driving well: Joseph’s owner says that he “starts sweetly” and “drives very nicely, showing real character.”
The engine bay is very clean and nicely detailed, and the underside looks totally solid and has been neatly undersealed to protect it.
The Beetle’s MOT certificate expires in July 2020. The car comes with a number of expired MOT certificates plus some invoices and bills to confirm the recent work that has been done to it.
Please visit the documents section of the gallery of this listing where you will find photos of this and other paperwork to support our claim that this car has been maintained in recent years to the very highest standard.
If you’d like to inspect the car prior to placing a bid – something we would encourage – then please use the Contact Seller button to arrange an appointment.
NB. We know that many of you will be limiting your social exposure over the coming days and weeks, so if you’d rather not come to see the car in person, please give the vendor a call and ask him if he can shoot a personal video of the car honing in on any areas you’d like him to concentrate on.
What We Think
There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of old Beetles still giving faithful service to their adoring owners across the world, and there are probably tens of thousands of them for sale at any one time - and some of them are very nice indeed.
Like this one. Beautifully painted in a rare and unusual colour, it has been gently customized with an Old School vibe that suits the Beetle’s classic lines very well.
In need of some gentle refurbishment and titivation, it would make an ideal daily driver and rolling restoration for a Beetle enthusiast who is looking for a bit of cheap fun.
Cheap fun? Oh yes, because few of its many attributes will be reflected in a huge price tag. While you and I appreciate the work that has gone into it over the years, the market only values it at somewhere between £3,000 and £5,000, which is a ridiculously small sum for a car that will make you smile every single time you use it.
Makes you think, eh?
But, if you are still not convinced you might be interested to know that the vendor’s such a lovely chap he has agreed to offer it with no reserve.
This means it’ll sell from the very first bid, no matter how insulting that sum is. So why not pop on a speculative bid and see what happens?
Viewing is always encouraged, and this particular car is located with the seller in Upminster in Essex; 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 trusted suppliers we work with regularly and can recommend: Classic & Sportscar Finance for purchase-financing, Footman James for classic car insurance Thames Valley Car Storage for storing your car and AnyVan for transporting it.
BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at the vehicles delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.
Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using simple cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.
Please note that this is sold as seen and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.
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