History of the 1968-1979 Volkswagen Beetle
The first substantial changes to the VW Beetle took place not at the insistence of VW engineers but as a result of U.S. government regulations. The charming painted dash went away in favor of a black padded one and the pretty ivory steering wheel was replaced by a drab black four spoke “safety” design. Other attractive details like contrasting seat piping went away around this time too. One peculiar option offered during this period on both the Beetle and Karmann-Ghia was a clutchless semi-automatic transmission called an “Automatic Stickshift.” Fortunately, the famous VW quality remained to the end, by which time only the cabriolet was offered in the U.S. Production continued in Brazil and Mexico until quite recently. Parts are quite inexpensive and easy to find, and air-cooled Volkswagens are very easy to work on and keep running. Any Beetle makes an ideal first collector car.