Fun, quirky, different, reliable - isn't that what the original Beetle is?
The following may look like a long list, but please bear in mind that:
A) this is over 14 years of ownership.
B) this car spent a fair chunk of its life in eastern Canada and therefore has been exposed to harsh conditions, including body-destroying road salt!
C) this is an old car, so you can't really complain.
When my brother owned the car (1990-2000) :
He had a fairly thorough restoration done, including: paint, new window rubber, welding done to rear bumper bracket, 2 new rear fenders, doors replaced with ones in better shape, 2 new tail lights, 2 new brake cylinders, etc.
The engine was also rebuilt.
The speedometer was replaced because the odometer wasn't working (so the odometer readings given here are estimates)
The starter was replaced.
2 tires were replaced.
The wiper motor was replaced with a second-hand one.
While I've owned the car (2000-date)
Car started drinking gas at 100km/tank on a 4000 km trip across America, so I had the air flow meter replaced.
One ball joint broke free, so I had all 4 replaced (my mechanic told my they were probably original!)
The emergency brake cables needed replacing.
I had some rust repair done: front frame hood bottom plate, new metal in the rear fender well area.
I've also done a variety of cosmetics including: new door mirror (old one was pitted), painted the rims, new glove box, new wheel lug caps, new seat covers, etc.
I've gotten really attached to this quirky car. It might look like a lot has needed to be the done to this car, but under the same conditions, I doubt other cars would do better.
I've found regular maintenance goes a long way. If you own an old-style Beetle, don't let 3 months pass before doing an oil change. With only 2.5 L of oil and a screen (oil filter) that can be reused, it's an inexpensive job.
Also adjust the valves. Don't let 5000km go by before you adjust them again. I find the valves of this fuel injected Beetle stay accurate longer than carbureted Beetles.
Some people don't like fuel injected Beetles (1975-79) (Mexican Beetles 1993-2004) because of the expensive parts. Well maybe so, but think how often these parts have to be replaced! Fuel injection is smooth and quiet (well, relatively anyway).
The interior really could use reupholstering (it's original). I've bought some temporary seat covers, but I'd really like to put the proper upholstery in it.
I plan on continue driving and enjoying this car, and gradually doing more stuff to it. The paint my brother had done 12 years ago is now pretty faded, since it didn't have a clear coat put on it (no fault of the car!). I'd really like to do a pan-off restoration in about 5 years' time.
Anyone looking for a Beetle out there, I say, go for it! It's one of the few old cars out there plentiful enough to easily get parts for (well 1940s and 50s Beetles are more of a challenge). It's also reliable enough that you can drive it regularly as well as on long trips (just give that air-cooled engine regular breaks on trips in the mountains and when the temperature goes above 25 degrees Celsius).
Finally, if you're looking for a Beetle, perhaps most importantly, beware of the dreaded rust. Severe body damage is expensive to repair and any classic car enthusiast will tell you they'd rather find a car with a straight, rust-free body and a shot engine, than one with a new engine and a rotten body! Looking at cars that have spent their lives in dry areas is a good start. It's no accident dry California is the classic car centre of the world!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 12th April, 2004