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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Can VW's New Beetle shed boomer nostalgia to win younger hearts?

It's probably fair to say the awkwardly named Volkswagen New Beetle, launched in 1997, was not an outstanding car, even if being based on the Mk4 Golf means it was never a bad one. A proportion of you will balk at the idea of this Bug being a future classic, regardless of its objective capabilities.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/car-profiles/can-vws-new-beetle-shed-boomer-nostalgia-to-win-younger-h...
69 REPLIES 69
AdrianClarke
Instructor

I seem to remember people going absolutely nuts for these at the time.
DUB6
Racer

Having come of age in the '60s, driving all over Europe in one in 1964, and seeing how they caught on in the States, I could never decide if I really liked these or not.  Still not absolutely sure, but I do tend to think more positively than negatively when I see one.  Would I ever buy one or recommend it to someone else?  Doubt it.  But at least I don't yak hatred at them on the road.  Come to think of it, I'm kind of in the same camp when it comes to Minis.  I balk a bit when I see "Cooper S" on them, because like a lot of folks, I fell in love with the original, which did homage to John himself.  Plus, I remember Twiggy fondly - not lustfully, but she did capture the world's attention for a while when I was of an impressionable age.  Like so many things labeled "retro", though, the new just never seems to 100% attain the level of love as the originals.

DUB6
Racer

In re-reading my post, I think I'm a little vague... I'm saying that after loving the original Beetle (and the '60s-era Mini), I have ambivalence when it comes to the modern iterations.  😐

VW_Insanity
New Driver

I hear you on that. I am also surprised at the later generations and the cars of my youth being embraced like the classics especially the cars of the 80's which were absolute nightmares as the car industry struggle to implement emissions controls etc. I was born in 1970 as reference 😉.
930Flachbau
Detailer

In a word, NOPE.
MrKnowItAll
Advanced Driver

What are you failed to mention, (and I see it's a UK article) was that Volkswagen of America was going to pull out of the North American market. The New Beetle, and its popularity, kept Volkswagen here. It was a resounding success in that manner.
MrKnowItAll
Advanced Driver

Oh I forgot to mention, it was designed in Simi Valley California by J. Mays. He later, of course, became Ford's design chief.
MrBill-1943
Advanced Driver

Purchased a 1999 Pea Green (same color as the article picture) for my wife and we both loved it with her naming it "Sweet Pea. Plenty of room for my 6'1" 265 lb frame including head room. Engine model was the Turbo but only had a top end of 105mph.
DMcC
Detailer

Daughter recently purchased a faded but original pea green diesel w/ 350k miles and it continues to go strong; her dry weather, daily driver in Colorado's high country near Telluride. Her research found that the diesel engine is one of the best and will last as this one has. Only real challenges has been need to redo the brakes, which she did in her parking lot, and the heater/AC's plastic fan broke, also a diy job.
jjs3rd914
New Driver

When they first came out, I thought the only way to have one of those was to, remove the front motor and make a real trunk, install a type-4 motor in the rear, then and only then would it be near acceptable.

Also the new electric bus, please NO WAY
Dadmog
New Driver

Bought one for my daughter, a 2000 Turbo diesel. That car had more weird problems than any vehicle we've ever owned. (and yes, I did own a 59 and a 67 Beetle in my youth) Replace an intake manifold that is choked with carbon? ("Can't burn it out with an acetylene torch 'cause it's aluminum")
The interior materials peeled off in the heat. The suspension was completely **bleep** by 100k miles. Remove the headlight assembly to replace the battery? I REALLY wanted to like the car, but it was very high- and expensive-maintenance. None of the 'drop the engine on your stomach while two friends pull you out from under the car' like the old ones. Can't imagine trying to restore one in 20 years.
CTK
Pit Crew

Once you worked the "bugs" out of the ALH diesel, it was actually a really good motor. You are correct, the EGR used to clog the intakes, and you pretty much had to delete it. if you knew how to tinker with it, it wasn't a big issue. Plenty of ALH diesels still running at over 400k miles. Not quite as simple to work on as the old bugs, but pretty much similar overhead cam 4 cylinder all the way back to the 1970's....
Kh
Pit Crew

You're right, they will be tough to restore when their plastic fenders are obsolete. Saw one in the salvage yard with those, so at some point they must have transitioned from metal?>
jsteele
Pit Crew

These cars can be a pain to work on especially compared to a Golf or Jetta but that aside the Turbo S cars are rare and brilliant.
r32rennsport
Pit Crew

Being in the repair industry for over the past decade I can say without a doubt these cars are awful, poorly made, one of Volkswagens worst efforts. The chassis they are built on is great, the engineering and quality of the rest of vehicle not so much. On par with efforts to revive the Mini name during the same era.
Bigcat75
Pit Crew

My first 2 cars were a 64 & 71. 64 rusted out in tub next to footwell. Totaled the 71, was a nice little car, red, sunroof, after less than a month of ownership, totaled in a spin-out, hit a pole, roll over, 3 pt belts saved my life. IMHO, turbos, convertibles and R models (gen 2 new beatle) will be collectible, mileage/condition and nostalgia will drive the market.
Iso_Grifo
Instructor

One photo in the article gives away the future collectability of the new Beetle: the flower vase on the dash. It's good they have those because at least there's a place to put a flower of remembrance when they eventually all die and rot away, if they're not crushed. I always kind of liked the design of them, but they were a "girls" car, and though there are certainly women who collect cars, it's just not cool enough for them either, I suspect.

The new Mini Cooper, however, a completely different story. That's got future collectable written all over it. Very cool car before they bloated them.
OldFordMan
Advanced Driver

Well old names sound better to folks. Ford is screwball on them. New Mustang E should have been GALAXY 500.
Maverick truck named for a car? Could've been F-1.
Snailish
Engineer

Courier probably the more direct name to give the truck Maverick.

Though a case could be made for Ranchero.
Studenorton
Instructor

Oh, you'd be stepping on a lot of unmentionables with that. A Ranchero has to be a "ute," and to make a truck out a coupe, first you need to build a coupe...
Snailish
Engineer

Honda Ridgeline, Hyundai Santa Cruz and Ford Maverick are 4-door utes.

 

Box is not separate from the body. Ridgeline and Santa Cruz use "passenger car" front ends so I suppose the Maverick can be debated there.

 

And yes I understand the coupe-utility old lady in Australia origin of the genre. I also think all three would look good as 2-door with longer beds but nobody is jumping to make that.

jhall4945
New Driver

"That said, it’s not like the original Beetle was perfect." Are you sure about that?!!!
Snailish
Engineer

PT Cruiser is 30s Woody sedan inspired to my eyes --not 40s/50s.
Rick2
Instructor

The New Beetle earned it's reputation as a girls car. A friend's wife had one and it needed some simple work but to do it the VW dealer had to drop the engine. When they put it back in they did not tighten the motor mounts and when he was driving it a couple of cays later the engine dropped out! The car was soon sold off.
JBBearcat
Advanced Driver

I think the Newer (2012 A5) new beetle was a good looking car, especially in convertible form.
A bit less of an over ernest pastiche, yet still keeping the general look.

And can we finally all admit that the original beetle wasn't that great. Cold, unsafe in anaccident, rusty...an adequate car for the time (barely), but best left with other fads of the 60s; some of the sillier clothes, politics, music, film.
The narcissism of the boomers have given all of those things more standing and significance than they really deserve.
Roomer
Pit Crew

JJBearcat, I take it you are not a boomer. What I tell anyone younger than me that questions the life we Boomers had is, "You had to be there".
JBBearcat
Advanced Driver

I am a boomer...just not a self obsessed narcissist.
I don't assume the sun rises and sets in my likea and experiences.
btukwh
Intermediate Driver

I always thought VW missed an opportunity with the new beetle. They should have made it smaller like the mini.

Driving fun kind of thing.

What did they used to call it farvegnuggin?

I still remember the advertisement that said 0-60? Yes. I used that line on other slow vehicles I had driven. I'm sure they will become a lesser collectible compared to the original Beetle but these days anything is collectible.

Jackrambler
Pit Crew

Hooray! Able to log on for the first time in weeks, maybe months! Hope the computer gremlins that rejected me are vanquished forever. The car being discussed will probably have a small but dedicated following forever. But we're all dedicated to our hobby cars, aren't we? Jackrambler
DUB6
Racer

What?  You were **bleeped**?  Glad you're back!  😋

elldorado2000
Advanced Driver

I don't know much about the Beetle, but it seems to me that what I have read was that their reliability was subpar. That eventually will kill any car. That doesn't mean I wouldn't take one if someone gave it to me. I've seen some pretty cool paint and wheel schemes on these cars.
And it also represents something else I have mentioned before here. Lack of utility. What would it hurt to make this thing an inch or two wider and longer?
kyree-williams
Detailer

That’s kind of what they día with the non-“New” 2012 Beetle.
Bostwick9
Advanced Driver

They will all have their day in the sun.
The problem is the reboots managed to forget the formula that made the originals so popular:
Mustang. The new Camaro. Thunderbird. Beetle. Charger. The original Taurus and the '96. The Saturn S Series and the ION. [I am using the last two as examples manufacturers being clueless as to what the public loved about the earlier product and the resultant confusion. Ford decided their buyers wanted moar. GM and the ION: weirdness because they couldn't figure out the Saturn customer base].
The New Beetle is none of the things that turned the original into a hero car: simplicity, ease of repair, low cost.
But it is small, fun to look at, interesting back story, practical with gas prices exploding, capable of more than just Sunday drives, lots of positives.
Every decade or so comes the disdain for current and more recent vehicles ever being "collectible" From what I read in old Motor Trends as far back as the '50s.
In the '60s in his Classic Cars column in Motor Trend, Robert Gottlieb pronounced that a 67 Cougar a reader wanted to put on blocks for 20 years would never be a "classic" or even a "special interest" car because the quality of then modern cars was so low. And besides "Who would want to restore any of them?"
I was 11 when I read that and thought he was dead wrong even then.
"Experts" and car journos claimed the same in the '80s about '70s cars and the '90s about '80s cars.
The snobs are ever with us.
If someone wants one, get one. Don't do it for the cash and prizes though, but for the enjoyment.
themrfreeze
New Driver

We bought a New Beetle for my wife brand new in '02...base model with a manual and the (in)famous 2.0L gas engine. For reference I also own a '68 Beetle.

The New Beetle was a compromised design...function followed form and that's often a recipe for problems. Build quality was also iffy...paint on my wife's rockers (which were easily damaged) was a constant problem. Engine burned oil from day 1. She enjoyed driving it but I hated working on it. After about 6 years of putting up with it we had another electrical problem...that my mechanic traced to corrosion in a connector under the front passenger seat. At that point we knew it was time to ditch it.

In contrast, an original Beetle put function before form. It may not be fast, or overly comfortable, or safe (if we want to be honest about it), but damned if it isn't easy as pie to work on and I get lots of looks when we're out for a drive.

So no, I don't see the "New Beetle" ever being nearly as collectible as the original, if for no other reason than no small number of original owners probably disliked them as much as I did.

I will say that I find the 2012-2019 "Beetle" much more appealing, but you know, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me....
jennmatthagen
Pit Crew

HAVE YOU EVER OWNED ONE? They will NEVER EVER be classics. They had suspect quality when new and late model... They are TERRIBLE cars when old. The electronics are complicated and are a constant problem. All the plastic bits (and this is a very plastically vehicle) get brittle and will literally fall apart. They are expensive to work on and you will have to work on it all the time. They are the opposite of the original Beetle in just about every way.
dough
Intermediate Driver

I'm sorry, but Hagarty will literally put virtually any make or model into this "the next collectible" BS storyline if it will possibly result in more policies written. Can we please get long articles on how the 70s 4 door Maverick will be the next huge thing once enough of the new Maverick trucks get into circulation....*insert rolling eyes emoji*
Snailish
Engineer

4 door Chevelle values have started creeping up...

 

Some media have been clever rebranding them as "crew cab musclecars" and such.

 

I suggest there is a line in the hobby and that most of those 50+ that don't own 4 doors don't respect 4 doors. Growing up this was absolutely true of my older gearhead relatives.

 

The younger you go below 50 the less that matters, and some of the desirable cars are the 4 doors (i.e., Evo).

Alfanorth
Intermediate Driver

I seem to buy cars that are the target of naysayers, Saab, Alfa, Dodge minivan, and VW.
Glad I've always ignored them.
We bought an '05 Tdi Bug in '07 and it is still going strong under my daughter's ownership.
I still love that car and hope to get it back once she tires of it.
It does handle well, could cruise happily all day at 150 kph, did a couple of trips with 1000kms to a tank, and it swallowed my son's goalie equipment with the rear seat down.
Did it have some issues? Yeah, but who the hell wants to drive a Corolla?
Don't know if it'll ever be a classic, but I certainly don't care.
2001
New Driver

I am still waiting for the new Karmann Ghia. Depending on how well they could recreate and modernize I might buy a VW
Snailish
Engineer

I want that Meyer's Manx homage concept car EV (golf cart really) they did to be available where I live as a registerable vehicle.

 

It's totally unsuited to how I would want to use it. All weather, everywhere.

Inline8OD
Technician

When industry and the arts can only ape past hits, they're bankrupt.
1stGenCamaros
Intermediate Driver

I have driven many of these in recent years while working for a car auction. The interiors in these cars are absolutely crap. A lot of cheap plastic parts the break easily. Vinyl inserts on the door panels that are glued to the plastic. Most of which fail and leaves a big patch of sticky adhesive just above the arm rest. VW didn't bother to upgrade the interiors until the last model year. Too late to overcome the damage already done in the minds of buyers. The original Beatles were very basic while so much more durable.
DUB6
Racer

Yes, and they sang pretty good also!  😋

2013GSVETTE
Intermediate Driver

my friend had one from the 60's and we used it as a beater in the woods and we could not kill it. it was a great buggy for the woods and on the beach. great standard shift with good rear engine. the new ones look cheap and could not take the beating that the old ones could. i guarantee that.
Truax
Intermediate Driver

We bought a 6000 mile used one for our daughter. She drove the wheels off of it! Only replaced the battery tires and brakes! When I drove it
( without the flower in the vase) I forgot what it looked like. It was actually pretty sportiy! When she and her husband cut back to one car (millennials that walk everywhere) 5 years ago. I stored it in my shop. I start it and run it a few times during the year. Keep it on a tender and add a little fresh gas occasionally. Never fails to start, runs like a champ! Still has the original clutch. Does it have some quirks, sure, but it’s ready when my daughter feels nostalgic and decides to restore! Oh yeah and the plastic body doesn’t rust!
SAG
Technician

The 'Super Beetle' [1973] was the last "great VW Bug".
Karlandhis356
New Driver

Nope...these are girl cars and in no way do they do justice to the original V DUBS UP TO 1967.
After that....chunky bumpers, way too much smog crap, build quality down etc. Not really their fault on the later ones. Calif and US safety standards...along with Smog reqs, attempts to get them up to "freeway speeds as a cruiser" all contributed. Talking about 67 to 76 (last one being a convertible. Yes...they continued on in Mexico and Brazil for a number of years. What did you get in the 1960's and increasingly better to 67? Great build quality. Closing the doors was the first clue. Excellent, simple, durable interiors. And...a couple of things to keep it on the road. Adjust the valves on a regular basis, in particular #3 exhaust, and put it in the garage. Correct on the safety issues, but...go anywhere in any kind of weather with the correct tires and engine over the rear wheels. Forget the silly repro's. They fall in to a class with PT Cruisers and a host of other knock offs.
twa2471
Intermediate Driver

I'm just going to restore my Ghia and at least have something stylish instead of something ugly , thanks, but no thanks on the newer bugs.