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Volkwagon dilema

Hi there,

I’m looking to buy my first car. It does not have to be beautiful, just functional, but I’ve fallen in love with the 1970 Bug and a 1999 Cabrio convertible…are either of these reliable cars? Is there reason to talk myself out purchasing one or the other? Or should I go back to basics and look at honda and toyota sedans?



In 1970 The Bug was a reliable car, IF you took the time to provide proper maintenance. Today it would be a 40 year old car, with difficult to find parts. If you could find all the parts you might need, you likely could keep it alive a long time. Take a look at “How to Keep Your VW Alive - A step by step manual for the complete Idiot”

Even if you never need it for a VW, it makes great reading. It will give you a real idea of what to expect, but don’t forget the need for parts etc.

In addition to what Mr. Meehan stated, I want to add the following caveat:

Any 40 year-old car is unsafe by modern standards.
A 40 year-old Volkswagen Bug could best be described as a death trap in comparison to any car manufactured in the last 10-12 years.

A 1999 New Beatle has ABS, air bags and safety crumple zones. A 1970 Bug has no ABS, your face is the air bag and your legs are the crumple zones. Your choice.


Apples and oranges. These two vehicles have NOTHING in common.

Love is a dangerous thing, especially when automobiles are involved.

My daughter, in your position, went through a “VW bug” phase before she came to her senses. Thank heaven she came to her senses.

Before I go any further, let me tell you, I owned a 1971 VW Bus for many years back in the day. That was when a car from 1970 or 1971 was a good used car. I also had several friends who owned bugs. That was a LONG time ago. I’ve also owned other VW vehicles.

A 1970 Bug, in today’s traffic, is a death trap. The car has no power, it accelerates at the rate of a turtle. You can’t merge onto a modern highway unless you have five minutes to plan. Good luck with that.

Then there’s the issue of no power steering, no power brakes, no ABS, no airbags, no VSC, etc, etc, etc. A 1970 Beetle is a nice hobby car, to be driven slowly on Sunday afternoons. As a daily driver it would be horrible.

Heat? There isn’t any. Defroster? Forget it. I used to scrape frost off the INSIDE of the windshield. And who’s going to work on it? Today’s mechanics don’t understand carburetors, points and condensers, and valve adjustments every 3,000 miles.

Please don’t misunderstand. I loved my VW bus. It was extremely reliable (as long as I performed the necessary maintenance, which is constant), and I still fondly recall my time with it. But I’m glad things have progressed since then.

Would I want to own it again? Yes, if I had unlimited financial resources, garage space, and time. But I have none of those, and the thought of driving a 1970 bug, or any other car from 1970, in today’s traffic, scares me.

1999 was the nadir of VW reliability. Purchase a '99 Cabrio at your peril.

If you want reliable transportation, Honda and Toyota sedans can’t be beat.

If you’re in love with VW, prepare to spend money. Love is a dangerous thing.

the insurance alone for the Cabrio would put it out of reach. You have shopped insurance rates, haven’t you?
Don’t fall in love with something that’ll never love you back