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VW Spotters Guide and Model Year Changes

VW Spotters Guide and Model Year Changes.

1949 to 1979

 The purpose of this page is to break down the “Types” and note significant changes through the years.


TYPE 1 1949 to 1979

The Type 1 designation consists of the Beetle, Beetle cabriolet, Karmann Ghia, Karmann Ghia Cabriolet and the Thing (aka the Safari), but is also broken into sub types (or model numbers. A little piece of trivia that for you is that the model numbers are broken down so that even numbers are right hand drive and the odd numbers are left hand drive.


Left hand drive will be focused on, in this page.


Model 111 is the standard Beetle sedan, left hand drive.


Model 113 is the deluxe export sedan, left hand drive.


Model 115 is the cloth sunroof sedan thru 1963.


Model 117 is the steel sunroof sedan from 1964.


Model 151 is the Beetle Karmann convertible


Model 141is the Karmann Ghia convertible.


Model 143 is the Karmann Ghia coupe


Model 181 refers to the Thing (or Safari).


Model year changes.


1949 - Beetle is introduced to the US market, featuring 25HP and Cable operated brakes.  Only 2 officially sold in the USA.

ź         46,146 Beetle sedans and 364 convertibles produced.


1950 - Hydraulic brakes were introduced on the export models.  Chrome Molding introduced on the Windshield Seal only (Deluxe Models).  Max Hoffman sells 157 Beetles this year.

ź         89,895 Beetle sedans and 2,695 convertibles produced.


1951 – Fresh Air Vents introduced & located on Front Quarter Panels (nicknamed “Crotch Coolers”).  Round Taillights discontinued, replaced with an “oval” shaped lens.  Taillights now feature a “Heart” shaped Lens on the top of the Taillight Housing for the Stoplights.  Stoplight was previously incorporated in the “Pope’s Nose” License Light.


1952 – Dashboard was redesigned in October 1952.  Chrome Molding now installed on all fixed windows in October 1952 (Deluxe Models).  “Crotch Coolers” discontinued mid-way through this year.


1953 - Split rear window was replaced with oval glass for increased visibility on March 10, 1953 with the Interior Light being changed to a rectangular shape and positioned over the “B” Pillar, previously round and placed over the Rear Split Window.  Engine output increased to 36 HP.  “Pope’s Nose” License light dropped and replaced with a smaller unit.  Choke Cable relocated from tunnel to dashboard mid-way thru model year.

ź         98,709 Beetle sedans and 3,938 convertibles produced.


1954 – “Heart” shaped Stoplight Lenses discontinued and dual-filament bulbs utilized for Tail & Stoplights.

ź         202,174 Beetle sedans and 3,938 convertibles produced.


1955 - Tailpipes increased to 2 and a new Dished Steering Wheel was added to the Beetle.  A combo Vacuum/Mechanical Advance Distributor replaces the previous Mechanical Only Advance unit.

The Karmann Ghia was introduced in September 1955.

ź         279,986 Beetle sedans and 6,361convertibles produced.

ź         1,282 Karmann Ghia’s produced.


1956- On US Market Models, Semaphore turn signals were replaced with fender mounted, Flashing Indicators.

ź         333,190 Beetle sedans and 6,868 convertibles produced.

ź         11,556 Karmann Ghia’s produced.


1957 - Heater vents moved for improved foot-well heating. Karmann Ghia convertible is introduced in September 1957.

ź         380,561 Beetle sedans and 8,196 convertibles produced.

ź         14,715 Karmann Ghia’s and 104 convertibles produced.


1958 - Windshield size was increased; Oval Rear Glass was replaced again with a much larger “Square Glass Window”.

ź         451,526 Beetle sedans and 19,624 convertibles produced.

ź         13,782 Karmann Ghia’s and 4392 convertibles produced. 


1959 – In September 1959, The Ghia’s nose underwent a facelift, changing from “lowlight” to “highlight”

ź         575,407 Beetle sedans and 11,006 convertibles produced.

ź         16,964 Karmann Ghia’s and 4,584 convertibles produced.


1960 – Semi-Circular Chrome Horn Ring and redesigned dished Steering Wheel introduced.  Wolfsburg Front Hood Badge redesigned with a change in colors to Black and Red, formerly Blue and Green.

ź          739,443 Beetle sedans and 11,939 convertibles produced.

ź         19,155 Karmann Ghia’s and 5,468 convertibles produced.


1961 - Engine output increased to 40HP, a Vacuum Advance Distributor replaced the previous combo Vacuum/Mechanical Advance Distributor, the Gas Tank was flattened for more room, Automatic Choke replaced the Cable operated Choke, and the Transmission was finally a fully synchromesh unit.

ź         827, 850 Beetle sedans and 11,998 convertibles produced.

ź         16,690 Karmann Ghia’s, 3,962 convertibles and 660 T-34’s produced.


1962 - Changes include factory installed Seat Belt provisions, and a mechanical Fuel Gauge being added.

ź          876,255 Beetle sedans and 10,113 convertibles produced.

ź          18,813 Karmann Ghia’s, 4,570 convertibles and 8,548 T-34’s produced


1963 - Stale air heating system replaced with a fresh air system. Wolfsburg Front Hood Badge was sadly discontinued.  Vinyl Headliner introduced, replacing the Mohair Cloth.

ź         838,448 Beetle sedans and 10,599 convertibles produced.

ź         22,827 Karmann Ghia’s, 5,432 convertibles and 6,719 T-34’s produced.


1964 - The cloth sunroof was replaced in favor of a metal one. License Light Housing grew in size.  Chrome “Thumb” Bar replaces Semi-Circular Chrome Horn Ring.  Front Turn Indicators were enlarged with Amber Lenses.

ź         948,370 Beetle sedans and 10,355 convertibles produced.

ź         25,226 Karmann Ghia’s, 5,260 convertibles and 7,365 T-34’s produced.


1965 - Cooling flaps installed on the Fan Shroud for efficient warm-up, all windows were enlarged, T- Handle Rear Hood Latch replaced with a pushbutton design.   Vent Wing Posts are now at a slight angle, formerly straight verticals.

ź         1,090,863 Beetle sedans and 10,754 convertibles produced.

ź         26,650 Karmann Ghia’s, 5,325 convertibles and 6,870 T-34’s produced.


1966 - Engine output increased to 1300cc or 50HP, Link Pin Front Suspension was replaced with a Ball Joint type, Hazard Lights added, Slotted Wheels added, Dimmer Switch moved from floor to the Turn Signal stalk.  Semi-Circular Chrome Horn Ring re-introduced, replacing Chrome “Thumb” Bar.

Karmann Ghia mirror moved from fender to door mount

ź         1,080,165 Beetle sedans and 9712 convertibles produced.

ź         28,387 Karmann Ghia’s, 5,395 convertibles and 5,947 T-34’s produced.


1967 - Engine output increased again to 1500cc or 53HP, Dual Circuit Master Cylinder, 2 speed Wipers, 12 volt Electrical System, vertically mounted, Sealed Beam Headlights and Back Up Lights were added to the Rear Bumper Brackets (on the Karmann Ghia, they were mounted on the Rear Bumper Blade).

ź         925,787 Beetle sedans and 7,597 convertibles produced.

ź         19,406 Karmann Ghia’s, 4,183 convertibles and 2,819 T-34’s produced.


1968 - Bumper design was changed, fuel filler added to the right front fender, Fuel Gauge moved to Speedometer face, Steering Column now had a collapsible feature, the Taillights grew in size with the Back Up Lights incorporated into the design and an optional 3 speed automatic stick shift was offered with IRS rear suspension. 4 lug wheels replaced “wide 5”.  Semi-Circular Silver Horn Ring replaces Chrome style.  Front Hood Release moved to Glove Compartment on Beetle Convertible and all Karmann Ghias   Seat Belts were now standard equipment, previously optional.

ź         1,136,134 Beetle sedans and 13,354 convertibles produced.

ź         24,729 Karmann Ghia’s, 5,713 convertibles and 2,533 T-34’s produced.


1969 - IRS Rear Suspension added to all models, Front Hood Release moved to Glove Compartment on Beetle Sedans, Inside Release for the Fuel Filler Door. This was the last year for T-34 Ghia production. Type 181 (Thing) production starts in Germany.

ź         1,219,314 Beetle sedans and 15,826 convertibles produced.

ź         27,892 Karmann Ghia’s, 6,518 convertibles and 1,044 T-34’s produced.

ź         22,373 Things produced.


1970 - Engine size increased to 1600cc, Oil Pressure Control Valve added to the engine case, Taillights with Side Reflectors added, and Front Turn Indicators increased in size.

ź         1,196,099 Beetle sedans and 18,008 convertibles produced.

ź         24,925 Karmann Ghia’s and 6,396 convertibles produced.

ź         5,384 Things produced.


1971 - Dual Intake Port Heads added to the 1600, power reduces to 48HP. Distributor was changed to a combo. Vacuum/Mechanical advance type, Carburetor changed to the 34PICT-3, a Charcoal Canister was added for the elimination of gas fumes, and moon shaped Vents were added behind the Rear Quarter Window to aid in ventilation. Super Beetle was introduced with a newly redesigned strut front suspension, and a much larger and rounder overall look.  Con

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