Owner Review

1970 Volkswagen 1500 (beetle) Review

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This is my Dad's car which has been in the family since 1970. It was originally bought for my uncle but he swapped it with my dad for a 1969 Kombi when he needed more room for the kids. My old man has had it ever since.

We recently restored it as it was getting a bit tired after 40-odd years as a daily driver and four or five learner drivers. We replaced the motor with a brand new 1776cc engine built in the States (wasn't a very good idea after factoring in all the shipping, customs and trouble shooting) that gives the car a much needed boost in torque and horsepower (about 90hp) over the original 1500 motor (about 70hp). It was taken back to bare metal and given a full respray and treated to a new interior.

I love the colour – Clementine Orange – or just orange to most people. The paint is still so vibrant after the restoration, but unfortunately this makes you constantly worried about stone chips, scratches and leaving it outside overnight.

The lines of the car are just so iconic and just bring a smile to my face whenever I see it or any other Bug out and about. To my mind, modern cars aren't quite as eye-catching as older vehicles due to aero and safety improvements. So seeing something like a Bug or any other vintage car in the wild is always a special moment.

I love how the exterior colour continues into the interior of the car; orange dash, orange around the inside of the doors, it really brightens up everything. This is something that just isn't featured in modern vehicles very often, and when it is, it's generally pretty horrible.

We installed after-market front seats a few years back. They look good and have been hard wearing but are also very firm. After a long drive your back really feels it.

During the restoration we added a new RetroSound radio, which has given us iPod and Bluetooth connectivity but still looks like something that would be in the car from that period. We have had the ongoing issue with a buzzing coming over the system which we have never been able to get to the bottom of.

The car has climate control in the form of a couple of windows which do a great job at keeping you cool, and has some heater vents by your ankles to keep you warm. The lights are about as good as any car of the period, so shocking. However, they do get brighter when you are accelerating – so, I guess that's an improvement, right?

Since the restoration it has been used sparingly, enjoying the life of a weekend cruiser. It would be nice to get it out of the garage more and return it to regular use as it did so well for so long, but we're all too scared to use it as a daily driver now and have it sitting on the street during work or overnight.

Compared to modern vehicles and some older cars of the period, it drives absolutely shockingly. Driving on Sydney's roads can be very tiring; it picks up every bump, crack and hole and thanks to the slightly lowered front end it is extra stiff. The steering has a fair bit of play in it when it is pointing straight, but is still quite agile when you need it to be. The increase in torque from the bigger motor has made it a nice cruiser and very fun to drive. Rear end grip is great as the motor is sitting over the back wheels, so you would have to be working pretty hard to lose it. Unfortunately the same can't be said about the front end – with no weight and average tyres on the front, it is very prone to understeer. It's rarely pushed hard enough to show this, but occasionally the Bug does give you a little scare.

It's pretty great on fuel, even with the larger engine and bigger carburettor fitted – costing about $40-$50 of 98 per tank, which, with the amount of use it gets lasts about a month or sometimes more.

Having grown up with this car my whole life, there is no object I love more – the colour, the sound, the chrome and just the feeling of cruising down the road can't be beaten in my eyes. Even with the knowledge that there is no way of surviving an accident over 40km/h, I still love it and so does the whole family, which is why we decided to restore it. We will never recoup the money spent on it, but the sentimental value was just too much to think about letting it die. Or letting someone else own it.

I would definitely recommend a Beetle or any vintage Volkswagen to anybody wanting a vintage car.