If you own or hope to own a Beetle from the 1970s and want to invest in the correct restoration parts, it helps to know the difference between the Beetle and the Super Beetle. Volkswagen offered both models throughout the 1970s, with both subtle and major differences between them.
Many people can’t tell them apart at a glance, so it’s important to know some of the primary ways you can determine if you’re looking at a standard Beetle or Super Beetle. Learn more about how to tell if you have a Super Beetle by reviewing the vehicles’ histories and their primary differences.
History of the VW Beetle and the Super Beetle
Volkswagen released the VW Beetle in 1938, and the car evolved significantly after that, with changes made to alter the vehicle’s performance and appearance. Volkswagen kept the VW Beetle in production until the 1980s and later released new versions in the 1990s and 2000s. Standard VW Beetles were largely defined by their iconic look, compact design and affordability.
The Super Beetle was only on the market for less than a decade. Volkswagen first offered the Super Beetle in 1971, with the vehicle staying in production until 1979.
During the 1970s, many different compact car manufacturers began to step up their competition with the VW Beetle. These other compact vehicles gave buyers a more comfortable experience. Customers chose other cars over the Beetle due to the standard version’s cramped design.
Since VW wanted to bring drivers back to their flagship compact car, they created the Super Beetle to address the main complaints drivers had about the standard model. This upgraded Beetle came with a few new features and a larger design to increase passengers’ comfort. When they released it in 1971, Volkswagen called it a “1302”. Later, in 1973, they released a new Super Beetle called the “1303.”
Primary Distinctions Between Super Beetles and VW Beetles
While the VW Beetle’s production began in 1938, they were still in production in the 1970s during the Super Beetle’s run. As a result, some collectors may not know how to tell Beetles from the 1970s apart. Some people will simply tell you that Super Beetles are larger than standard Beetles. But there are several other differences between them to help identify what kind of Beetle you’re looking at.
To know how to tell the difference between regular VW Beetles and Super Beetles or to decide which one is right for you, review some of their primary differences:
Length and Width
One of the primary distinctions between the Super Beetle and the standard Beetle is their size. VW designed the Super Beetle with a slightly longer and wider body than the VW Beetle. Since Super Beetles are only a few inches longer and wider than standard VW Beetles, it’s often difficult to identify which Beetle is which if you’re just going by length.
One of the most notable changes Volkswagen made to the Super Beetle was its increased storage capacity. The standard model lacked space. When Volkswagen increased the Super Beetle’s length and width, they also expanded its storage capacity, giving the upgraded Beetle a major advantage. With the increased length, the Super Beetle’s trunk had the space needed to store a tire and leave room for other items.
To determine whether a Beetle is the standard version or a Super Beetle, check how the spare tire fits in the front trunk. A Beetle with a spare tire that fits in the trunk and leaves space for groceries and luggage is a Super Beetle. A Beetle with a tire that takes up all the trunk space will be a standard Beetle.
Another difference between the Beetle and the Super Beetle relates to the vehicle’s drive quality, which is the most apparent change. Since the Super Beetle needed to be more comfortable to drive, it featured some mechanical upgrades, primarily a new front suspension.
Instead of using the standard Beetle’s torsion bar, the Super Beetle came with a MacPherson strut front suspension assembly. This change gave the Super Beetle a greater turning radius and improved its driving quality.
When you drive both vehicles, the difference between the standard Beetle versus the Super Beetle’s handling is clear. The Super Beetle’s steering is much more responsive, and the overall ride is smoother.
Windshield and Roofline Design
In the first couple of Super Beetle years, it had the same windshield and roofline design as the standard Beetle. In 1973, VW added a flatter roofline and curved windshield to the Super Beetle.
These changes were intended to differentiate the models. But the flatter roofline and more curved windshield are barely visible when you look at the Super Beetle. You’ll have to look close to tell the models apart based on these characteristics alone.
There were convertible trims available for standard VW Beetles before 1971. But from 1971 to 1979, Super Beetles only came with a convertible trim. If you own a Beetle from this period and it’s a convertible, you can be confident it’s a Super Beetle.
Do VW Beetles and Super Beetles Require Different Parts?
While some VW Beetle owners think they can easily swap parts between models, the Super Beetle and standard Beetle have unique requirements. Know how to tell the two Beetles models apart when you need to purchase restoration parts for your vehicle.
Choose Raybuck for Your VW Beetle and Super Beetle Restoration Parts
Now that you know the difference between standard VW Beetles and Super Beetles, find the right restoration parts for your vehicle. At Raybuck Auto Body Parts, we have the right parts for the type of Beetle you own. We have repair panels and restoration parts designed for the Super Beetle’s unique requirements. We also offer parts for standard 1968-1979 VW Beetles and interior replacement parts for both models.
Whatever Beetle you own, we have restoration parts and panels ready to restore it. The VW Beetle is an iconic piece of automotive history, and any parts you use to restore it should be the best. We ensure the Beetle parts we offer meet standards for excellence, helping you get the most from your VW Beetle and keep it looking its best.