Many people purchase classic VW Beetles for the sole purpose of owning a classic car they can show off at car shows or take to VW Bug events. With the history they have and the memories they bring back, these uses are typical and even expected. But what if you want to buy a VW Beetle to actually replace your daily driver? While there’s certainly a chance you’ll get some appreciative nods and stares as you drive down the road, is operating this car really worth the everyday hassle? Before you make a decision, consider the benefits and drawbacks of owning and operating a VW Bug daily driver.
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Driving a VW Bug every day: Pros
- When you think of the word classic, what word comes to mind? If it’s ‘expensive,’ you aren’t alone. Despite this, VW Beetles are actually relatively cheap to purchase today. The real cost comes with the repairs to VW Beetle parts the car might need, which is why it is so important to thoroughly check the vehicle for signs of rust and major problems with the transmission or engine. Keep in mind that the type of VW Bug you buy will impact the price. Beetle convertibles, for instance, are always going to be more expensive. Restored Beetles will be costly as well.
- Unlike today’s vehicles, which are filled with computers that require high-tech mechanics when things go wrong, the VW Beetle is a simple car. They don’t have elaborate emissions controls and equipment, so maintaining them and keeping them on the road is relatively inexpensive and simple. Their chief limitation seems to be their body. While modern cars can go years without experiencing rust problems, VW Bugs are more likely to experience these issues. Unlike their modern counterparts, however, rust doesn’t automatically send a VW Beetle to an early grave. There are plenty of measures that can be taken to restore the body and remove rust.
- Your Beetle won’t depreciate in value. What you pay for it today will most likely be what you can sell it for five years from now unless you fail to take care of it. The value has nowhere to go but up because of its classic status. This makes it an investment worth putting a bit of extra money into.
- Insurance for a classic Volkswagen Beetle is extremely inexpensive, and, if the VW Beetle is more than 30 years old, it’s also exempt from periodic MOT testing. Using a classic car like this for your everyday driving can save you both time and money.
- Buying VW bug parts won’t break the bank. For the most part, the routine maintenance on this type of car is relatively simple, and most owners can take care of the problems themselves, and even replace a few VW Beetle parts when necessary. For more technical issues, a mechanic may be required.
- A VW Bug daily driver drives well in snow. They are rear-wheel-drive cars, but that doesn’t stop them from owning a blizzard. They can do this because of the size and height of their tires, along with the fact that the air-cooled engine sits on top of the rear wheels.
Driving a VW Beetle every day: Cons
While there are plenty of perks to driving a VW Beetle every single day, there are also a few drawbacks you need to consider before making a buying decision.
- A VW Beetle is slow- very slow. Modern cars are considered to be slow if they require more than 10 seconds to go from 0mph to 60mph. It takes a VW Beetle about 20 seconds to do this. It also can’t go more than 90mph. Before you decide to buy a VW Bug, take a test drive, especially if you’ve never driven one before. Keep in mind that the slow driving style of the VW Beetle doesn’t have to be a turn-off. If you’re operating it mostly in town, it could provide exactly what you need for everyday use. Maintain momentum on the road can also be helpful.
- There are no amenities. While this car does feature a rather complicated system of hot air directed through ducts by the cooling fan on the engine, which can be pushed into the cabin by user-operated levers. This feature is only available, however, if you happen to find a VW that doesn’t have problems with the air cooled VW parts that run this, like the tin work or the air ducts. This does not happen often.
- There is no ABS in your VW Bug daily driver. If you don’t keep a proper amount of distance between you and the car in front of you, there’s nothing to prevent you from skidding and crashing into that car. Before you take on the huge responsibility of buying a VW Beetle, take the time to get used to the idea of driving without ABS. Educate yourself so you can stay safe.
- Rust is always going to be a problem when you own a VW Bug. As stated previously, rust and the classic VW Beetle are often used in the same sentence for a reason. Even if you buy a solid VW with no rust on the body or any VW Beetle parts, you’re likely to come across it after driving it once during the wintertime. Make sure to check the car prior to buying it. Look at the floorpans and especially under the rear seats to see if any rust is present.
Are you considering buying a VW bug daily driver? Make sure you understand what the advantages and disadvantages of doing so are before you spend your money. Be honest with yourself and know what the limits are of the Beetle and what your limits are as well. If you don’t think you’re ready to take care of a car that may be prone to rust, is slow and may not have the personal comforts you want, choose a VW you can instead use for occasional use.
The article alludes to this, but more directly: The VW Bug heating/defrosting system is not up to handling the coldest weather in places that have serious winters, like Minnesota. And on ice-slick roads, you need to be especially careful with the brakes since the rear weight bias of the car makes it more prone to swapping ends. Neither is an issue in milder weather. All in all, they are fun cars to drive because of the light and well-balanced controls.
I would also like to add: For economy cars of its day, the Bug had superior quality in materials and assembly; a very reliable and well-made car.
I have never had a classic Beetle. My co-worker has one, and a girlfriend had one years ago. But now I am doing research into possibly buying one and doing some resto work on it with my 8 year old son. The Idea being, I can enjoy the car and he can learn some mechanical skills as I did. Then he can inherit the car to drive when old enough. In South Carolina. I welcome suggestions and comments.
My first car bought brand new was a 1972 VW beetle. It was a rich yellow color. It had a 60 hp engine and did well in the snow. I could go 60 mph and still get 29 miles per gallon. Gas cost 30 cents in the days. Been a while. I had it about 69,000 miles before it threw a rod and I could not afford to get it fixed. The defrost system is poor because it has no fan. The faster you went, the better it kept the windshield clear. But, on really cold days in the winter, frost would be on the inside of the windshield in the morning. Really had to get the car warmed up before you could even see to drive. Mine had no AC, so it was hot in the summer, but with windows down and vents open, it was bearable. I kind of wish I had it now. New it cost $2259.00 and my payment was $69.01 for 36 months.
I purchased a used 1959 VW bug in 1965 in Sioux City Iowa for $400.00. I was in the Air Force and needed cheap reliable transportation. I loved this car. Had an electrical problem right off, and it drained the battery many times. No problem. I either parked on a hill or had fellow occupants to hop out and give a short easy push. Got that problem fixed finally. This car was unstuckable. Snow, sand, mud, I was amazed at where I could take this buggy. Drove it from Iowa to Florida when I was sent to Labrador. The steering wheel came out of the steering column when my wife was about to drive it back to Iowa with my father-in-law. We left it there during my tour in Labrador, wives were not allowed at this was a remote radar sight. Came home after a year, fixed the steering, drove it to Duluth Minnesota. One night, out with a fellow airman, we managed to turn the car over, on its side, and it never shut off, and we managed to turn it back over and drove away. In Duluth I experienced the same good vibes, it always started, even in below zero temps, I never got stuck, and when I was being discharged after my 4 years were up, I sold it to a fellow airman, for $400.00, exactly what I had paid in 1965 even with the scratched roof and side fenders from the wreck. Loved this car. Took the rear seat out while I was in Iowa, and single, put a plywood support, even though it was tilted a bit, covered it with a snow rug, and myself and 4 other airmen could go just about anywhere we wanted to. After 50 plus years have now passed, I still have airmen I served with, and an ex-wife, who still laugh and talk about that car and the fun we had in it. LOVE THAT CAR.