How Would You Design A Modern Volkswagen Beetle?

Illustration for article titled How Would You Design A Modern Volkswagen Beetle?
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I'm not talking styling, and I'm not talking about rear-engine construction, either. I mean, what if you had to build a car in 2014 that held to the same tenets that defined the original Volkswagen?

I'm talking about a car that can cruise all day at a fairly quick highway speed (the original design plans called for 60mph back in the 1930s, which was rather hot), has room for a full family (that has certainly ballooned over the decades), and is simple, reliable, as well as easy to use.

If it were me, I'd think I'd end up with something like a stripped-out new Honda Fit, with an understressed naturally aspirated engine. There'd only need be enough power to wheel the thing along at a hundred without wheezing too bad. The question of if that car has enough character to match the original Bug is a bit open-ended, though. There was a charming utilitarianism and ugliness to the old Volkswagen that could use a comeback.


If you had to design the VW Beetle today, what would yours be like?

Photo Credit: Raphael Orlove/Jalopnik

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The Gray Adder

It also has to have a price ceiling. In the 30s, it was RM990. In short, working class people have to be able to afford one without stressing the budget too much. I suggest a MSRP no more than $10,000. There's too much feature creep on cars today; you would think we could strip a car enough to meet that benchmark.

So here's what I have in mind. No AC, first of all. Design the car with a canvas top. Not a convertible, but the sort of thing some old Beetles had that could be rolled back by hand when it got hot. Also, side-venting windows. Make the damn thing work without an air conditioner in temps up to, say, 35 degrees C.

You want a radio? Go to Best Buy. The car will have a dummy panel where the radio goes, and it might even be wired up for one, but it won't come with one.

You can get one with automatic, if you absolutely can't live without it, but it will cost you an extra grand. Everybody else gets a 5-speed manual.

Power windows/locks? Are you nuts?

If we build the thing no heavier than 1900 lb., how much power do you really need? Seriously? I say 80 HP is ample, and that ought to be achievable with a very small four-banger. We won't even make those ourselves; we'll buy 'em from Toyota or somebody.

I bet we can save a few bucks by not sponsoring every major sporting event in North America (like the goddamned Super Bowl, some shitty NASCAR team, etc.). The advertising budget will be small, but adequate; let the cars sell themselves.

If you don't like plastic, I guess you like spending money more. This car will have plenty of plastic, in the dash, on the doors, you name it. Ever see a steering wheel from an old K-car? Plastic.

Carpeting will also be optional. Rubber floor mats will be standard, like in the old Bugs. Carpeting gets dirty anyway, and that will piss you off.

Anywhere else where we can scrape off a few bucks without compromising safety?