Classic 1971 Volkswagen Beetle Review Dec 20, 2016 by Cedric (Driver Weekly)

The Volkswagen Beetle is a classic car that everyone can recognize in an instant—frankly, almost everyone has wanted one of these unique cars at some point in their lives. While the iconic design was introduced in the 1930s, Volkswagen made only minor changes over the following decades. The 1971 Beetle is one of the more interesting model years and received a new engine in the face of waning popularity.

Waning Popularity

In 1970 and 1971 buyers were losing interest in the Beetle because of its stale design and rising price as the German economy improved. While the Beetle remained a popular option in other areas, North American and Western European drivers were losing interest. That said, the latest model still offered exceptional fuel economy, durability, and quality. Unfortunately, other options did as well as this point. Because of the heavy competition, Volkswagen worked hard to try to keep the Beetle popular.



The 1971 Beetle in Europe and North America still had the familiar shape that all Beetles have always had. These models built on earlier improvements in 1968 with improved ventilation, safety, visibility, and shifting. In 1970, the available 1500 cc engine now featured an engine lid with two rows full of cooling louvers. The engine lid on the convertible had four cooling louvers. In North America, however, this engine grew to 1600 cc, which meant that the horsepower also improved to 57 horses. There were also some minor changes, such as a new “L” (Luxus) Package available in 1970. This package included dual rear ashtrays, twin map pockets, rubber bumper moldings, a visor vanity mirror for the front passenger, and full carpeting. In 1971, Volkswagen increased the power again, reaching 60 horsepower. It also added flow-through ventilation and enlarged the taillamps.There were larger turn signals in front and an ignition key warning buzzer.  The big news for 1971 was the Super Beetle, with a nose that was 3.2 inches longer, a wheelbase that was 0.8 inches longer, 3.0 additional cubic feet of trunk room, a smaller turning circle, room for more 0.5 gallons of gas, and a coil-spring MacPherson strut front suspension. This meant that for the first time buyers could choose between two Beetles. This year was a good combination of classic style, incremental improvements, and displacement.The next year, VW added special editions, like the “Baja," that still appeal to collectors.


Niels de Wit / Wikimedia Commons

Due to the significant number of models produced, individual Beetles are rarely considered collector’s items. Instead, they are a durable and fun classic car that can be easy to maintain and repair. Owners of 1970 Beetles agree that this model can still work well if properly cared for and, in some cases, with restoration work. It has clearly shown its durability and good build quality. When you want to do repairs or restoration, you will never have an issue finding parts for this popular vehicle as they are interchangeable between most model years. Some owners have also modified their 1970 Beetles to make them faster to take better advantage of the fun-to-drive feel. Without modifications, these Beetles manage to give you a sporty drive without actually going very fast by today’s standards. While slower than a modern car, the 1971 Beetle and Super Beetle delivered improved displacement and power on a solid frame with vintage styling, perfect for any automotive enthusiast who wants to enjoy a fun classic car for a low price.


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