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Used Volkswagen Beetle review: 1960-1973

The VW Beetle, while conceived by Hitler in the 1930s, was designed by Dr Ferdinand Porsche, one of the most gifted automotive designers of all time.


The VW Beetle, while conceived by Hitler in the 1930s, was designed by Dr Ferdinand Porsche, one of the most gifted automotive designers of all time.

Porsche's design was based on a simple platform chassis, at one end of which was a rudimentary torsion bar independent suspension, while at the other end was an engine and gearbox with a swing axle independent suspension which also featured torsion bar springing.

It came with an air-cooled overhead-valve-flat four-cylinder engine with a capacity of 1.1 litres. On the road, the Beetle had quite good performance for the time, and it improved over the years as more power was extracted from the engine.


The great thing about the Beetle is that maintenance is relatively easy for a novice or home mechanic, and it is a great vehicle on which to learn the basics of automotive mechanics. Parts are generally available from VW specialists who can also provide expert advice and servicing if you don't feel inclined to do your own work.

Like all old cars, condition is the key thing to consider before purchase. A car in run-down condition, particularly in the body, will cost a small fortune to refurbish and won't be worth the cost of investment when you come to sell it. On the other hand, if you buy a car in good general condition, it won't put a massive strain on your budget and your final investment shouldn't exceed the value of the car on the used-car market.

Check for rust in the doors and rear quarter panels, and look for signs of water leakage from the windshield which suggests rust around the windscreen flange. Also check the floors, front and rear, for rust, and lift the rear seat as water can accumulate there and lead to rust in the floor.

Mechanically, the Beetle is a fairly simple package and fun to work on. Look for vague steering which could indicate wear in the front-end, steering gear, or shot shockers.

The engine is quite robust and hard to kill, but look for oil leaks and the condition of the oil to reassure yourself it's been serviced.

Likewise, the gearbox has a reputation for being indestructible. But check to make sure it doesn't jump out of gear and that gears can be selected without baulking.


The Beetle was built before the advent of things such as airbags and other safety systems fitted to modern cars. However, it is quite a sturdy little car so there's reasonable crash protection. Carefully inspect any seat belts that might be fitted and replace them if they show signs of wear.


Twenty-year-old Jessica Begovic has owned her 1968 VW Beetle 1500 since she was 16 and has spent quite a bit of money renewing the exhaust, brakes, door and rear window seals, repairing some oil leaks and repainting it. It is older than most other cars on the road, lacks the performance of a modern car, its engine sounds like a lawn mower in the back seat, it doesn't have air-conditioning and the ride isn't very smooth. Yet, Begovic loves her car and wouldn't trade it for anything. She says it is reliable, with a lot more character and personality than anything else on the road.


Year Price From Price To
1973 $2,640 $4,730
1972 $2,640 $4,070
1971 $2,530 $4,070
1970 $2,530 $4,070
1969 $2,530 $4,070
1968 $2,310 $4,070
1967 $2,310 $4,070
1966 $1,710 $4,070
1965 $1,710 $4,070
1964 $1,710 $4,070
1963 $1,710 $4,070
1962 $1,710 $4,070
1961 $1,710 $2,530
1960 $1,710 $2,530

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1200 Deluxe 1.2L, Leaded, 4 SP MAN $1,710 – 2,530 1960 Volkswagen Beetle 1960 1200 Deluxe Pricing and Specs
Graham Smith
Contributing Journalist


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