My father owned a UK 1967 1500 deluxe from new, the car was a special order schwarz L41 (black), the interior was Indian red basket weave. He also opted for US spec bumpers to avoid any undue knocks from the larger higher bumpers that were appearing on other cars of the time. This is his car with my mum and my grandma on holiday in devon around 1968.
At the time and there after, my father always said that it was known as the “best year beetle.” I put this down to bias for many years until I started hearing it from more and more sources.
So, let’s have a look at the features of this one year car and look into this statement to find some solid reasons for this accolade.
The aesthetic of the original beetle shape is still very much unchanged on the ’67, long bonnet, classic bumper position, small rear lights, sloping front lights (European models only)
The rear deck lid is modestly simplified, it finally clears away the remaining W impression that the 66 still sported at the top of the lid, this harked back to the flowing lines of the split rear screen which had gone 14 years earlier.
The US spec bumpers had been around for many years due to safety regulation stipulating increased height coverage front and rear.
The 1500 single port engine was developed for the Type 2 transporter/kombi/microbus. This powerful engine was highly regarded as one of the key cogs in the 67’s success.
The original Type 1 engine was designed to be driven all day long at its motorway/autobahn speed.
The 1500 engine did two things, provided more power but did not decrease reliability of the core engine design. 1500 heads lasted and suffered less cracking than later twin port heads, emissions control had not yet strangled the simple Solex 30 pict-2 carburetor.
Ratios in the gearbox made this the best (highly sought after) gearbox VW made, great for lower engine revs at cruising speeds.
The addition of disk brakes made the car a market leader in 1967, in the UK it was one of the first cars in its price band with this feature and was one reason my father bought it (the other car he nearly bought was the Hillman Imp but this did not have disk brakes as standard, though it did have a rear engine!).
One feature that VW should have provided to all of us in this year was the US addition of the dual circuit brakes which came to europe in 1968.
Summary and wish they had…
With history laid out before and after the ’67 year it can be said that reliability issues that larger twin port engines raised were not experienced in that golden year. Better braking and clean simple lines gave the buyer the feeling that they were buying a refined and well thought out vehicle without compromise, thus I feel the accolade does hold up… however as we have the benefit of hindsight a few additions could have made it the true ultimate beetle in my opinion.
- 1968 Collapsible steering column. This would have rectified the inherent risk of solid steering columns in a front impact.
- The doghouse and oil cooler from twin port era. Number 3 cylinder was prone to overheating, if VW had fitted the offset oil cooler and doghouse fan housing then the 1500 may have been even more reliable.
- Inertia front seatbelts and 3 Point Seat belts in the rear of the car.
- Dual circuit brakes on all 67 model cars Europe and US.
So there you have it, some reasons why people regard the 1967 as the best beetle.