1974 Volkswagen Beetle Super 1.6 from North America


A classic


My first car and the one I loved the most. 1974 was the best year for the Beetle (before the fuel injection models).

This car was black with red interior, and it was sharp.

I had to replace the muffler and steering rack when I owned it.

The rust (car was up in the north east) is what killed it. I wanted to have it restored and repainted, but money prohibited that.

The handling was great with good upgraded tires.

General Comments:

Wish I had kept it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 9th February, 2008

1974 Volkswagen Beetle Super 1.6 Carbureted from North America


Reliable, but very basic transportation.


I purchased the car at an estate sale, it hadn't been driven for over 15 years, so anything rubber was shot. This included all the brake hoses and seals, torque converter seal, tires, battery, and window gaskets, all of which had to be replaced. This was not because they failed, but because the car had set so long unused. All of these things were repaired by myself over a period of about 6 months. Shortly there after the torque converter seal failed again, probably because the one I put in it was as old and dried out as the original. It hasn't failed since.

General Comments:

Very slow, noisy, and cramped, but ultra reliable and surprisingly comfortable for one person. Not much room for luggage and what room there is is difficult to get at. Other cars feel the need to pass you as some kind of macho statement regardless of what speed you're going. Poor gas mileage by modern standards, only about 25 mpg at best, or about 280 miles to a tank of gas, probably caused by the semi-automatic transmissions torque converter. It doesn't lock like newer cars do. The heater and defroster work very well(it has a defroster fan) contrary to the popular myth that they don't.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 12th March, 2003

17th Nov 2004, 19:27

I also owned a 1974 VW Super Beetle and it was a great little car. Mine was a 4 speed menual transmission, and it too didn't get great gas mileage.

I agree with you about the heater in the Super Beetle. It was much better than the heaters in my two standard Beetles.

(The fan surely helped.)

I loved the Super Beetle, but when I saw the new Rabbit Convertible back in 1980, I just had to have one. I started saving my money, sold my Super Beetle and bought a new Rabbit Convertible in 1982.

I still drive a VW to this day. I currently own a 1993

Cabriolet that is in nearly new condition.

Thanks for the excellent review.

1974 Volkswagen Beetle Super 1.6L from North America


If you look around, you can find a fun, reliable Beetle, too


The starter needed replacing.

The left tie rod needed replacing.

The master cylinder needed replacing.

(Nothing out of the ordinary for such an old vehicle)

General Comments:

I absolutely love this car. It's a Sun Bug (has a sunroof). It is super fun to drive and maintenance is generally simple and inexpensive. I was lucky enough to find the car more or less fully restored, and have just maintained it.

I do some repairs myself and I have a good independent mechanic who knows air-cooled Volkswagens. If you don't do repairs yourself, finding a good, honest mechanic who knows air-cooled Volkwagens is extremely important. It's getting harder, too. Air-cooled Volkswagens are very unorthodox and most young mechanics don't know how to repair them properly!

If you want a Beetle, educate yourself about where they rust, join a club and have a knowledgeable person check one over before you buy it. The Beetle was an excellent car in its time (over 21 million units speak for themselves), had overall excellent reliability and parts are still cheap and plentiful. Fuel economy is still competitive with modern cars. However, because of the car's age (usually 30 years or more in Canada and US) there is a lot of room for things to be damaged or rusted out!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 13th February, 2003

1st Feb 2008, 02:35

I'm the original poster. 5 year update. This continues to be a great little car. I've added about another 40 000 km since the last review.

Mostly have done just maintenance, like new plugs once a year, valve adjustments about twice a year and regular oil changes. Some other notable repairs in the last 5 years: new alternator, new muffler, new carburetor. Nothing too out of the ordinary. I think the carburetor was the original Solex.

The alternator light came on one day, so I drove it home and had a new stock Bosch one put in. No problems since.

My old carburetor lost a fair bit of reliability (stalling at idle even after a tune-up). Made an attempt to replace it with a Brosol 34 Pict3 (stock). Turned out it was defective, so my mechanic disassembled and cleaned the old one. It ran okay for another year. Then I got a Brosol 30/31 Pict (which I heard was better cast than the 34). The difference in smoothness is significant.

Replaced the old quiet pack muffler with a Dynamax (performance muffler). Sounds nice, but quality is questionable. Bottom is scuffed (and holed) just 1 year later (due to low clearance). Also the body of the muffler loosened from the exhaust pipe and it started to drag. Reclamped it, so I figure I can milk another year out of it. Still, that's pretty shoddy considering it was quite pricey.

Switched to Amsoil full synthetic 10W40 motor oil. Wow, you sure notice the difference. Not only does the car run smoother, but I notice the oil doesn't sludge up in cold, rainy Vancouver in the winter. I go 6 months between oil changes now (instead of about 3). Remember to clean the screen. If you have a screw on oil filter, go a year with synthetic. Do a little research - Amsoil seems to be one of the best.

Make your VW last longer by keeping the rust at bay. I peeled back the tar boards, sanded and painted the floors (on the inside) then I took the car to Krown rust control (www.krown.com) and had them spray everywhere (inside and out). Had all the carpets and passenger and rear seats removed before they sprayed. This stuff is really good. It's a liquid that creeps in all the little crevices. I've seen cars sprayed with Krown regularly in salt belts and they're still in mint condition after many years. In Vancouver, Canada, I figure I can go every 3 or 4 years as we don't have the salt issues like in the East (e.g. US eastern seaboard or Canada east).

Rust prevention wise, I still recommend to paint inside the fender wells with POR15 or something. The Krown washes off too quickly. I bought a can of Master Series (like POR15, only cheaper) which should do pretty much the same thing. Figure Masterseries or POR15 on the underside, complemented with Krown sprayed on the outside, inside, inside heater channels etc, and you've got yourself a pretty unrustable car!

Had a little mishap. Damn low profile tires in the rain! Spun out over a curb. Damaged the right rear trailing arm, steering box and 2 rims! With used parts and $800 later, I got it fixed. In the grand scheme of things, that was cheap. I don't want to even begin to imagine what a similar mishap would cost in a new car. That's the most expensive repair to date.

Fuel economy wise, this car is okay, but not great for a four cylinder 1.6 litre. I usually get between 9 and 11 L/100 km, depending on how much city/hwy and what season it is, i.e. 9 L/100 km = 50%/50% city/hwy outside ambient temp. 10 C or more. 11 L/100 km = mostly city and/or colder weather (like 0 C or so). Best is about 7 L/100 km (at steady 90-100 km/h in 20 C temp). Worst is around 13 L/100 km (snow, chains on tires - you get the idea!)

This car has a lot of character. Insurance is cheaper, repairs are simple and inexpensive, and if you educate yourself on the car's shortcomings, you can have yourself a Beetle you can drive and enjoy everyday. How many 34 year old cars can do that?