Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe New Beetle comes with VW’s fuel sipping TDI engine and a fun-making six speed stick. Let’s see if this retro convertible’s price tag makes for a trifecta of fabulousness.
While president, Lyndon Johnson at times would like to prank guests at his Stonewall, Texas ranch. He would offer to drive them around the property in the little convertible car he owned, and then on a steep slope leading to the nearby lake would shout that the brakes had failed and would plunge headlong into the water.
The car, of course was an Amphicar, which was intended for both land and water and would bob jauntily across the lake’s surface while LBJ’s passengers breathed sighs of relief and attempted to get comfortable in their freshly soiled undergarments.
I can’t imagine another POTUS pulling such a prank but if one did, yesterday’s 2015 Panther WaterCar would be the logical abettor to the effort. Sadly, very few of you could see any other avenue for purchasing that car/boat. As such, its inordinately high $195,000 price went down with the ship in a 95 percent Crack Pipe loss.
That WaterCar may have been exclusively for the few, but that has long been countered by a number of car models that have been intended for the many. The first of those is logically Ford’s Model T, the car that put America, and much of the rest of the globe on the road. Most other car-building countries have similar types of cars that they can each proudly tout gave wheels to their respective teaming masses. France had the 2CV, England the Mini, Italy the Topolino, and Russia had the Lada.
The most famous car for the people may very well be the one literally named the People’s Car, the Volkswagen Type 1. Introduced just before the outbreak of WWII and then entering full-scale production in the years following Germany’s surrender, the rear-engined four-seater helped bring the country out of its post-war financial calamity. It would not be long before the Type 1, or Beetle as it eventually became known, was Germany’s number one automotive export.
So important was the Beetle to Volkswagen and the company’s legacy that it was a logical candidate for resurrection when the retro cars craze arose in the late ‘90s/early ‘00s. The inevitable result was non-ironically dubbed the “New Beetle.”
When VW came out with the New Beetle in late 1997, people in the U.S. lined up to buy them. They couldn’t get enough of those voluptuous fenders or the twee dash-mounted flower vase, both nods to tradition.
In Germany, people wondered aloud why the company would ever choose to revisit what its home country considered to be ‘Hitler’s Car.’ Wisely, Volkswagen chose to build the Golf-based New Beetle in their Puebla, Mexico plant rather than in Germany, and focused on the U.S. as the model’s primary market.
The New Beetle ran through two designs and a multitude of models and editions over the course of its 21-year run. Today that’s all over, as Volkswagen has ended production, killing the Beetle for a second time.
This 2014 New Beetle is one of the more interesting models to have made it out of Puebla over the car’s run. It’s first and foremost a convertible and that’s a fascinating bit of engineering in a car with the New Beetle’s shape and proportions. You may be familiar with the earlier rear-engined Type 1 drop tops which had to carry their convertible rigging in a tall bustle out back. That precluded much in the way of rearward visibility. The New Beetle soft top pays homage to its forbearer by keeping its top exposed while retracted, but its bustle is much lower and does not impede sight-lines much in any way. The tall side-glass is all fully retracting too, and unlike the earlier Golf convertibles there’s no B-pillar hoop to get in the way.
Another major point of interest in this New Beetle lies beneath its buggy hood. There sits a 138 horsepower turbo-diesel four. That’s paired with a six-speed stick giving this car a level of efficiency and engagement you might not expect. That manual is also a lot cheaper to maintain than the New Beetle diesel’s other available gearbox, the six-speed DSG.
The car wrapped around those intriguing bits looks to be in excellent shape. It sports a fairly unexciting white top coat, but above that is a biscuit-colored soft top which adds a bit of pizazz. Volkswagen usually does really nice alloy wheels and this car’s silver double five-spoke spinners meet those expectations. The interior comes across as a little less successful. Everything looks to be in fine shape mind you, but the beige letherette and body-white dash and door trim combines for an overall unappealing presentation. At least there are dash-top gauges and a decent infotainment system to be had.
The ad claims the car to come with an amazingly low 13,579 miles. It also sports a clear title and an accident-free history. This rare combo of convertible, diesel, and manual gearbox comes with an asking price of $19,991, which is way more affordable than yesterday’s Panther, albeit for a car that can only travel on the land.
With all that in mind, what’s your take on this uniquely-spec’d New Beetle and that $19,991 price? Does that seem like a fair deal for a People’s Car? Or, does that price mean it’s not for you-people?
H/T to Ed T. for the hookup!
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