Back in the rear-engine/air-cooled Golden Age of Volkswagen, since they kept with the same basic models so long, they amused themselves with special editions. One of these, the GT Beetle, I love for many reasons, but maybe most so because of one line in the brochure. About taillights.

See, the GT Beetle was supposed to be a limited-run (just 2500 made), UK-only Beetle to celebrate the 300,000 Beetle sold in that country. For a measly £19 more than the standard 1300 Beetle, you got a Beetle with disc brakes, padded dash, special gearshift, center console, ‘GT Beetle’ badge, seat cloth, the big new ‘elephant’s foot’ taillights, and, most importantly, a 1600cc engine making a face-melting 60HP mated to an uprated transmission that made it the fastest Beetle of the time, capable of a spacetime-warping 85 MPH.

Those numbers are pretty comically mild today, but back in 1973, they weren’t bad, for a cheap economy car at least.

The GT Beetle also has the distinction of being the only original, air-cooled Beetle to actually be badged and marketed under the name “Beetle.” Though, to be fair, the ‘GT Beetle’ badge was optional, because, incredibly, putting one on your car could cause your insurance to go up, just because it had the letters “GT.”

These are still very desirable and rare Beetles, but what I think I love most about them is this little bit of the brochure:

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See that? Not once, but twice the brochure mentions how many square inches of taillight area the car has. Sure, horsepower’s fun, torque can be impressive, 0-60 times are okay, I guess, but the real measure of a sporty car is how many inches of area its taillights display.

“How much colored light does she put out in back,” you hear enthusiasts ask, breathlessly. “I mean, in square inches?”

“80? Did you say 80 square inches of taillight area? Fuuuuuuuck.”

I think we may need to add a new category to our car reviews now.


Contact the author at jason@jalopnik.com.