1967 was a monumental year in human history. It was the beautiful and transcendental Summer of Love, where a groundbreaking hippie revolution occurred initiating massive cultural and political change, starting in San Francisco and ricocheting outwards to New York, London and beyond.
It was the year The Beetles released Sergeant Pepper in a drug-fueled haze of genius and Che Guevara was shot dead, while another man was given a new heart. And in amongst it all, the humble Beetle was going through a transformation of its own, with cutting edge modifications being made to take the people’s car into a new era.
What else happened in 1967?
London was in full swing, hemlines were rising and morals falling. Aretha Franklin recorded ‘Respect’ at the New York based Atlantic Studios. And The Who performed their first concert in the United States, in New York. Jimi Hendrix set fire to his guitar on stage for the first time, but not the last. Elvis Presley married Priscilla Beaulieu at the Aladdin in Las Vegas. And, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were sentenced to jail for drug possession. And, on New Year’s Eve a group of one thousand people accompanied by music and geese burned down a Christmas tree in Central Park.
In Sweden, on September 3 1967 at exactly 4.50am, all traffic was directed over to the right side of the road where it stopped for ten minutes. And at 5am, when it started again Sweden had switched from being left to a right-hand-side traffic nation.
And, in amongst it all, the Beetle was going through its own metamorphosis.
The 1967 Beetle was one of the landmark cars, where a lot of features from the original bug changed. The biggest change to the ’67 model included the raising of the ‘Europa’ bumpers along with a shortening of the engine lid and the valances were raised on the bonnet. The fuel filter was moved so owners could fill the car with petrol without having to lift the bonnet. And the door mirrors were made to swivel in all directions. There was a redesign of the front wings to house vertical headlamps. New, larger rear lamps were installed with reversing lights. Louvers were attached to the bonnet to circulate fresh air, and the door handles were modified to feature a trigger, which made it virtually impossible to be locked out! Collapsible steering was added, along with securing points for three-point seat belts. And dual circuit brakes were installed on the 1300 – 1500cc with bigger rear drums for improved safety – and a switch was made from 6 to 12V on these models.
Taking the modifications inside, the petrol gauge was fitted into the speedo and three air outlets were incorporated into the dash. And the ignition lock was encased in the steering column shroud.
And on a micro level, the chrome quarter light catches were replaced by deformable rubber twist knobs. And the rear view mirror was cased in plastic and a quick release mechanism was fitted. Meanwhile, the handbrake was moved back and shortened, and the 1500cc got a new carb with modified oil bath and pre-heating pipe to help cold starts.
So, while hippies were camped out in San Francisco, The Stones were banged up on drug charges and the traffic in Sweden switched sides of the road, VW were busy making their own changes to the ubiquitous and lovable 1967 Beetle.
More about Megan