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Beetle Changes

You can see the most spectacular changes in the two pictures above and below. The famous rear window (pretzel window), divided into two flat halves, was replaced in 1953 by an oval, slightly curved one without a central bar. The picture below also shows the Standard version that has existed since 1949, a gray mouse without chrome or aluminum decoration with a black three-spoke steering wheel.

Seats in the Standard initially with wing nuts instead of slide rails as in the Export.

The image below represents the biggest change to the rear window, almost doubling here. After that, the numerous changes to the windscreen too and shifts to the roof area were no longer necessarily noticed. What is missing from all the pictures is the wide license plate light that followed the one shown here.

More important things happened under the sheet metal. The mechanical actuation of the drum brakes was replaced by a hydraulic one. Also important for the chassis were hydraulic vibration dampers at the front from 1950 and also at the rear from 1951, for the engine the thermostatic cooling air control and for well-being a folding roof for 250 DM.

Brake cable = 1, speedometer shaft = 2

Above the classic dashboard with open glove compartments. Here even in the US version, which was little changed at the time. Pictured also a direction indicator and its switch at the top center of the dashboard. Below the successor with special emphasis on the radio loudspeaker.

Pictured above is the front axle fitted through 1965. It already contained the gradually introduced vibration dampers and the front stabilizer, but also steering knuckle and collar bolts with bearing bushes that had to be lubricated regularly. Now these parts, which have to be mounted new at regular intervals, have been replaced by two ball joints with permanent lubrication.

A rare image of the front layout of the tank. From 1961 it became significantly flatter and curved more downwards. However, it retained its filler neck in the front luggage compartment until 1967. Only from now on a VW Beetle could be refueled through an outer flap. Below you see the rear luggage compartment with the rear seat backrest that can be folded forward. The entire lining, including the backrest, was later greatly improved in terms of quality.

If a dashboard can be considered typical for the VW Beetle, then this one from 1957. What makes it recognizable here as a later version is the missing horn half ring (from 1957). But look with how few buttons a vehicle can be operated, although it must be mentioned that the two levers for the heating were located on the left and right of the handbrake lever.

Otherwise there was only the turn signal with switch for high beam or headlight flasher, the light switch in the middle at the top left and the windscreen wiper with a button for the windscreen water at the top right. The latter was housed in a small container in the spare wheel and drew its pressure from an artificially exaggerated one for the spare wheel, which can easily be produced at the gas station. Why was the filling level of the tank also displayed when the ignition was off? Because the display was controlled mechanically via a small Bowden cable from the tank.

Control lights
Oil pressure
Charging current/cooling
Direction indicator/turn signal
High beam

That was the first part of a revolution, typical for VW, because once again it was too late. It begins relatively harmlessly with the engines (see chapter: The Last Beetle). They were performance-enhanced and somewhat more exhaust-detoxified. An important component for this is the double-channel cylinder head shown below.

Bar between the two channels susceptible to cracks . . -

Looking under the metal again, the rear axle was converted to semi-trailing arms by means of double cardan shafts. This construction was previously only reserved for vehicles with semi-automatic transmissions. The completely modified front end was completely new, extended by a total of 75 mm and the wheelbase by 20 mm. McPherson struts, modified steering and a lying spare wheel resulted in 75 percent more luggage space and 5 liters more tank capacity.

Here the 1302 can be seen again. Every production record had a corresponding vehicle, but this one had a special reason to appear, because one had snatched the crown of the world's most-produced car from the famous Ford Model T with over 15 million vehicles built. Although the Toyota Corolla was more numerous at the time, it was not counted due to a lack of uniformity. Today, the VW Golf and additional the F-Series from Ford are way ahead.

If the Beetle hadn't continued to be built in Mexico, its history would have ended with this model. It was the 1303 from 1972, where the so-called glass house was changed. The windshield has always been slightly curved, but now it's really protruding. At the same time a new dashboard was necessary.

But it continued to be built and developed too. Here the so-called elephant feet, enforced because of the exports to the USA. Below the Beetle, for a long time in the majority as a taxi because it was inexpensive and easy to repair. Only two doors, but no passenger seat, which has long since been banned for new taxis in Mexico too.

In Spanish-speaking Mexico it was called 'Vochos', in Portuguese-speaking Brazil 'Fusca'. Here is the oldest production site in South America, dating back to 1953. There are now four plants (two in Mexico) with many of their own models throughout history. In 1986 the last of well over 3 million Beetles was built, to see in the picture below.

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