VW Beetle Production Changes

The VW Beetle helped to shape the history of the Automobile and Volkswagen would not be the success that it is today without it.

The Beetle was available as from 1945 but most models at the time were built for the occupying forces and official agencies.  In 1946 the VW Beetle was available for the general public to purchase but only with the use of ration coupons.

From 1945 to 1948 there were no visible changes to the VW Beetle.


License plate indentation on rear deck lid dropped.

Inside pull cable release for bonnet, no lock on bonnet handle

Solex carburettor introduced as standard equipment

Dashboard redesigned

Starting crank hole dropped (VWs previously could be started by both key and hand crank)


Hydraulic brakes introduced

Sunroof introduced

Noise mufflers for heating ducts added

Automatic air cooling by thermostatically controlled throttle ring

Fuel mixture heating device (heat riser) introduced

1950 Black Deluxe

1950 Black Deluxe


Chrome deluxe moulding added to windscreen seal

Wolfsburg crest added to front bonnet above bonnet handle

Vent flaps added to front quarter body panels (commonly known as crotch coolers)

1951 Split Beetle

1951 Split Beetle


Glass vent windows added, vent flaps in front-quarter body panels discontinued

Heating control by rotary knob, previously a pull-knob

T style decklid handle introduced, previously a loop type

Two lamp brake and taillights, previously one brake and stoplight

Window regulator now makes 3 ½ turns as previously 10 ½ turns

Glove compartment gets glove box lid

Indicator swith moved to steering column from dashboard

5.60 x 15 inch tyres replace 5.00 x 16 inch tyres

2nd, 3rd, and 4th gears become fully synchronised, replacing the “Crash Box”

1952 Split Beetle

1952 Split Beetle


Oval one piece rear window replaces split window

Lock added to quarter light window handles

Brake fluid reservoir relocated behind spare tire, previously at master cylinder

1953 Oval Beetle

1953 Oval Beetle


Starter motor now incorporated with the ignition switch replacing a separate button on the dashboard

Bigger and more powerful engine, hp increased from 30hp (1131cc) to 36hp (1192cc) and 5:8:1 to 6:6:1 compression ratio

Oil-bath air cleaner introduced replacing a felt element filter

Break-in driving requirement dropped for engine

Automatic three way courtesy light added

Top window in taillight housing dropped



Directional indicators mounted low on front wings replace the semaphore indicators

1955 Oval Beetle

1955 Oval Beetle


Chromed dual tailpipes added, previously single tailpipe

Taillight housings moved 2 inches higher on rear wings

Bumper over riders added

Sunroof made of plastic fabric, previously cloth fabric

Steering wheel diameter spoke (horizontal) moved lower, off-center

Heater knob moved forward, previously located in back of front seats

Front seat backs now adjustable, previously non-adjustable

Redesigned gas tank holds larger luggage space

1956 Primered Oval

1956 Primered Oval


Tubeless tyres replace tubed tyres

Adjustable striker plates fitted to doors

Front heater outlets moved back to within 5 inches of door for better heat circulation

1957 Oval Ragtop

1957 Oval Ragtop


Brake drums and shoes widened for better friction and braking

Rear window and windscreen enlarged

Front indicators moved to wing top

Radio grille moved to the left in front of the driver

Flat accelerator pedal introduced, previously a roller type

1958 Ragtop Beetle

1958 Ragtop Beetle


Stronger clutch springs introduced

Improved fan belt design introduced

Chassis reinforced for greater strength



Steering wheel dished for safety

Door handles became grab handles with pushbuttons, previously pull out lever type

Padded sunvisors introduced, previously transparent plastic

Anti roll bar added for improved handling and cornering

Generator output increased from 160w to 180w

Steering damper added for improved handling

Footrest added for front seat passenger

Seat back contoured for greater comfort to reduce driver fatique

1960 Ragtop Beetle

1960 Ragtop Beetle


Sunvisor and grab handle added to passenger side

Increased horsepower from 36hp to 40hp

Automatic choke and preheats introduced

Transmission synchronised in all forward speeds

Flatter fuel tank yields increased luggage space

Quick check transparent brake fluid reservoir

Push on connectors fitted throughout electrical system

Pump type windscreen washer

Non repeat starter switch

Key slot in doors changed form vertical to horizontal



Spring loaded bonnet

Larger tail lights introduced

Sliding covers on heater outlets

Compressed air windscreen washer

Seat belt mounting points added

Fuel gauge introduced, previously reserve tap style

Worm and roller steering replaces worm and sector

Lubricated tie rod ends



Vinyl headliner introduced

Wolfsburg bonnet badge dropped

Folding handle for sunroof added

Foam insulated floors

Fresh air heating

Nylon window guides

1963 Ragtop Beetle

1963 Ragtop Beetle


Sliding metal sunroof replaces cloth sunroof

Sunroof handle improvement

Horn operated by thumb bar instead of horn ring

Basketweave vinyl material replaces plain vinyl seat upholstery

Four new colours introduced, panama beige, java green, bahama blue and sea blue



Significant increase in window areas, windscreen increased by 11% and slightly curved, rear window increased by 19.5%, door windows increased by 6% and rear side windows increased by 17.5%

Windscreen wipers improved, blades longer and more efficient, more powerful electric motor added, blades park to the left instead of the right wiping glass in front of the driver

Slight thinning of backs of front bucket seats provide additional legroom for rear seat passengers

Contouring of backrests of front seat for additional comfort

Rear seat backrest now folds down onto rear seat

Improved braking system introduced with redesigned master cylinder, brake shoe supports on backing plates reducing show wear and improving braking and pressure required on pedal

Control knob for heating system replaced by 2 levers on centre tunnel for controlling front and rear heating

4 thermostat flaps added to fanshroud to permit air flow through heater and defroster vents when car is started

Deck lid lock T handle replaced with push button handle

Swivel mounted sunvisors



Horsepower increased from 36hp to 40hp and displacement from 1200cc to 1300cc

1300cc badge introduced on decklid

Slotted wheels introduced and flatter hub caps

Safety latches for front seat backrests introduced

Hazard light warning switch introduced

Headlight flasher switch mounted on indicator switch

Centre dashboard defroster outlet added

Semi circular horn ring

1966 Beetle

1966 Beetle


Horsepower increased from 40hp to 43hp and displacement from 1300cc to 1500cc

Sloping glass cover sealed beam headlights replaced by upright headlights indented in the wing

Dual circuit master cylinder introduced, operating the front and rear independently

Volkswagen decklid script badge introduced

Two speed window wipers introduced

Reverse lights introduced

Deck lid redesigned for vertical mounting of number plate

Parking light incorporated into front indicators

Locking door pulls introduced

12 volt electrical system with 36 amp battery introduced



Europa bumpers introduced

Head rests combined with front seats introduced

Automatic stick shift introduced

External fuel filler flap introduced but spring loaded

Fresh air ventilation added

Collapsible steering column added

Exhaust emission control system introduced (US Spec)

Flattened door handle with built in trigger release

Reverse and brake lights tail lights combine into single lense

Certification sticker introduced (US Spec)

1968 Beetle

1968 Beetle


Rear window demister added

IRS rear suspension added for improved ride and handling

Warning lights in speedometer identified by letters or symbols

Ignition steering lock introduced

Fuel filler flap lock and cable release introduced

Bonnet release mechanism relocated to glove box

Day and night anti dazzle rear view mirror introduced

Warm air outlets at base of doors moved further rear with remote knobs on door columns



Air intake slots on deck lid introduced

Increased horsepower from 43hp – 47hp and displacement increased from 1500cc – 1600cc

Enlarged wing top indicators introduced

Tenth mile indicator on odometer introduced

Head rests reduced in size

Remote control knobs for warm air outlets discontinued

Glove box lock added

1970 Beetle

1970 Beetle


Increased horsepower from 57hp to 60hp

Flow through ventilation with half moon vents behind rear side windows introduced

Headlights automatically go off and side lights stay on when ignition is turned off

Larger tombstone tail lights introduced

1971 Beetle

1971 Beetle


Larger rear window introduced

Decklid air intake slots increased from 2 to 4

Smoother engine warm up after cold weather start

New safety steering wheel with collapsible hub

Lever mounted steering column for fingertip control of both windscreen wiper and washer

Hinged parcel shelf to cover rear boot well

Restyled speedometer

Automatic electronic check of brake system warning light installed when engine starts

VW computer analysis socket

1972 Blue Ragtop

1972 Blue Ragtop


Larger elephant feet taillights introduced

Stronger bumpers add an inch to car length

Front seats adjustable to 77 different positions

More durable and easier to operate clutch with softer gearbox mounts

Improved air intake pre heating for faster cold weather starts

Windscreen wiper arms have black finish

Inertia seat belts introduced

6.00 x 15 tyres with 4 ½ inch wide wheels

1973 Beetle

1973 Beetle


Self restoring energy absorbing front and rear bumpers introduced

Ignition interlock prevents engine being started before seat belts are fastened

New cylinder head alloy for better heat dissipation

Additional computer analysis sensor reads ignition timing and TDC

Front seat headrests redesigned and made smaller

Steering wheel made more elastic to give more in the event of an accident

Park position introduced on automatic stick shifts

Warning light for handbrake



Electronic fuel injection and fuel injection decklid badge introduced

Single tailpipe

Increased horsepower from 46hp to 48hp

Clutch pedal pressure eased

Larger exhaust valves stems for better heat transfer

New heat exchanger for greater heater output

Installation of battery earth cable with diagnosis contact for more accurate computer analysis readings

Odometer triggers red warning EGR light to notify driver of service requirements

California models with catalytic converters require lead free petrol and fuel filler neck has smaller opening nozzle

Maintenance intervals extended to 15,000 miles



Two tone metallic paint, full carpet, sprts style steering wheel and heated rear windscreen introduced as an extra

New speedometer with outer scale in mph and inner scale in kph

Redesigned front seats with improved back adjustment for added comfort and support

Two speed fresh air blower

All trim components chrome plated

Automatic stick shift discontinued

1976 Cabrio

1976 Cabrio


Adjustable headrest replaces integrated headrest

Plush velour upholstery replaces houndstooth check

Electric heated rear window introduced for Cabrio models

Bahama blue metallic paint colour replaces topaz metallic



Fuel injected engine

IRS suspension

McPherson strut suspension

48hp engines as standard

Heated rear window



Fuel injected engine

IRS suspension

McPherson strut suspension

48hp engines as standard

Heated rear window