Cars are always getting a bad rap these days. News stories almost every day about criminal drivers, vehicle pollution, and worst of all, the apathy of youth towards driving. Back in the day, the attitudes towards automobiles were very different. Cars had an important place in peoples lives

Below is a great article by Rubens Junior about the VW Beetle and its importance to his family and his motherland. Enjoy!

1978 VW Beetle

It is not easy to summarize the importance of the VW Beetle in Brazil, my home country. The car helped us to become a motorized nation, with the Beetle we learned not only how to drive, but also how to fix it, how to take care of it, and, naturally, to love it with all our hearts.

The very first Brazilian Beetle left the assembly line on January 03, 1959. The car still had 46% of its parts imported from Germany but soon it would become 100℅ domestic. The Beetle’s off-road capabilities came in handy in a country where paved roads were a luxury. It was affordable, reliable, and easy to fix. No wonder we loved it so much.

My dad is an unconditional fan of the car and he owned more than a dozen throughout his life. For him, the little “Bug” was a daily driver, a race car, and now it became a hobby.

After his retirement a few years ago, he started buying and restoring old VW Beetles. Dad owns a small collection of 4 cars and recently he sent me some pictures of his red 1978 model which is, by far, the best one of the bunch.

He bought this Beetle from a used car dealer, in a neighboring town from where he lives. Dad is indulging himself with a hobby that is intended for people with deep pockets, but he is not a rich guy by any stretch of the imagination, he is doing this on a tight budget. Even though the car was in good condition and the asking price was fair, dad spent a couple of weeks negotiating the price until he brought it down to a number he was happy to pay. We were surprised that nobody else bought this Beetle before since it was sitting in the dealer for a few months. I guess it was meant to be.

This car is not 100% original, at some point in its life, the previous owner slightly modified it to look like a 1993/1996 model. The bumpers painted in the same color as the car, the fog lights, the bigger rear fenders, and tail lights, and the steering wheel we see here don’t belong to a 1978 Beetle. Dad is not worried about it now, since the car looks pretty cool this way.

The Beetle has no rust issues and was never involved in an accident. The original 1300cc engine was completely rebuilt, and so were the transmission, brakes, suspension, and steering box. Mechanically speaking, no stone was left unturned. Internally the car only received a new headliner since everything else was in good condition. The FM radio is not original but is period correct. The 14″ alloy rims came from another Beetle he owns, wrapped with a fresh set of Kumho 185/70 R14.

Dad does most of the job himself, and sometimes I am worried about him, he is 73 years old and he shouldn’t be removing and installing engines and transmissions alone. But I am also very happy because he is doing what he loves. His 78 Beetle looks great and drives like new, he couldn’t be more proud of it.

Good job, Pa!

~ by Rubens Junior ~

Check out “The Classic Machines” for more great articles about cars and the guys who love them.

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4 thoughts on “The Classic Machines: Brazilian Beetle

  1. Yes, cars had a magical meaning for our generation, they represented freedom and much more. It also had a sentimental connection, to the point we even used to christen them.
    Once I heard a radio commercial and never forgot it, it goes like this, “Treat you car with love because it is your best accomplice. It is your partner in all your adventures”.

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