What Is a Volkswagen Beetle Vs a Super Beetle?
If you’ve been bitten by the VW Bug or plan to purchase your first Volkswagen classic car, you need to know two things. The first is a brief history of the German brand, which is known for its classic cars. The second is the difference between a Beetle and Super Beetle.
Volkswagen is a favorite of collectors because of the amount of support and documentation available. Its fans are also among the most socially connected of classic car enthusiasts. Beetle ownership comes with the opportunity to join VW clubs and interact with Volkswagen fans on Facebook. It’s a great starter car for those wishing to participate in this fast-growing hobby.
Beetle vs. Super Beetle
If you ask classic car collectors about the difference is between a Super Beetle and a standard Beetle, most will tell you that the super version is longer. This is true, though the difference in length is not that great. A Super Beetle is actually only two inches longer than a standard Beetle, a difference that’s hard to detect with the naked eye. Fortunately, there are other features that help distinguish the two vehicles.
From a mechanical standpoint, one of the biggest differences is the front suspension. Standard Beetles were designed to use torsion bars, while the Supermodels were upgraded to a Macpherson strut and coil spring setup. This change increased ride quality and improved the Bug’s poor turning radius. The accuracy of the steering and the smoother ride can easily be detected by taking both cars for a road test.
Another improvement Volkswagen made with the introduction of the Super Beetle was increased storage capacity. The Beetle’s small size was always the vehicle’s Achilles’ heel, hindering sales in North America where many car enthusiasts needed room for the family. The modest increase in length allowed to manufacturer to store a spare tire flat in the trunk, located at the front of the vehicle. On a standard Beetle, the spare tire takes up a lot of the storage capacity. On a Super Beetle, the spare is out of the way, leaving more room for luggage or groceries.
In 1973, VW made further adjustments to the Super Beetle to distinguish it from the standard model, including the introduction of a curved windshield and flatter roofline. These adjustments were quite subtle. The best way to distinguish a standard Beetle from a Super is to check the location of the spare tire and look behind the front wheels for a Macpherson spring compressor.
History of the Volkswagen Beetle
Development of the Volkswagen Beetle began in the late 1930s, and the car was produced in small batches until production was interrupted by World War II. After the war, mass production began and the company designated the automobile as the Volkswagen Type 1. VW marketed the car as the Volkswagen, or “people’s car.” The people eventually nicknamed it the Käfer, or “Beetle.”
The catchy nickname caught on and was used as a marketing tool in Germany and other countries where the Beetle was sold. In 1946, the Volkswagen factory, located in the newly minted town of Wolfsburg, started producing 1000 VW Type 1s a month. In 1949, the first two units were sold in the United States and delivered to New York City. Although production was limited due to a shortage of materials in the postwar environment, in early 1955 the factory managed to produce more than one million vehicles.
It wasn’t until the company formed Volkswagen of America that the ball really got rolling. The 1960s were a decade of great growth, featuring the introduction of four new models. In the third quarter of 1970, the first Super Beetles were produced on the Wolfsburg assembly line where it all began. VW built the new and improved models as sedans until 1975 and made them available as convertibles through 1980. In 1972, the company surpassed the 15 million sales mark, securing the record for the most single model units built. With this milestone, VW finally unseated Ford and its Model T.