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Volkswagen Beetle Worldwide Cult Status

Updated on December 3, 2019

Air Cooled VW a Pop Culture Icon

The air cooled Volkswagens, especially the Beetle or "bug", have become a pop culture icon and are quickly recognized all around the world. The "peoples" car found its way into the hearts and driveways of enthusiasts from Australia to Germany to America. The VW Bug is probably the most recognized car in the entire world.

The Volkswagen originated in the 1930's in Germany and was designed by Ferdinand Porsche. Since that time the VW has gained world-wide popularity and recognition.

Few, if any, vehicles in the history of auto manufacturing can claim the worldwide cult status of the Volkswagen Beetle. Naysayers said that the people’s car would never last… but boy, were they wrong. Popular culture prevailed, and the Beetle has become nothing short of an icon.

Your Favorite Air Cooled VW?

Which is your favorite air cooled Volkswagen?

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How Long Does a VW Beetle Float?

What Makes the VW Beetle so Special?

So what is it about this particular model of Volkswagen that makes it so special?

The aesthetics are an obvious answer after all, few cars can answer to an adjective like “cute” and get away with it. But we must also consider what lies beneath… the hood, that is. (Remember, that hood’s in the back, not the front!) Like many other Volkswagen models, including the Bus, Thing, Kharmann Ghia, Squareback, Fastback and Notchback, the Beetle is air cooled.

In a water cooled engine (i.e., just about everything that’s not a motorcycle, lawn mower or old school Volkswagen), water circulates around the cylinders and then through the radiator to cool it off. Air cooled engines have fins that the air blows over to dissipate the heat. Because they aren’t as efficient at dissipating heat, air cooled engines burn much hotter and wear out faster than water cooled engines. For this reason it is very important to be sure that the cooling system including all metal shrouding and ducts are in good order.

Vintage VW Beetle Ad

Air Cooled VWs Require Commitment

The air cooled engine is definitely alive, well, and present on our streets, but it definitely requires a much higher level of commitment from its caretaker. One problem these VW enthusiasts face is the lack of qualified mechanics familiar with air cooled engines. This can be a real issue.

Oftentimes it’s worth it to simply learn how to service the vehicle yourself rather than trust someone who claims to know what he is doing. After all, you are the best mechanic you know, and no one cares as much about your engine as you do! That’s why it may make sense to simply tackle these projects yourself.

Don’t be overwhelmed! Fortunately, there is a huge wealth of information out there to aid and abet the air cooled enthusiast. The internet is home to countless numbers of clubs and organizations dedicated to this very topic.

Forums make it very easy to communicate with others and get specific answers to your vehicular problems. Whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish with your air cooled engine, the chance is very good that some other enthusiast has already attempted and succeeded with the very same project. And you’re in luck, because he took step-by-step color photos and posted them right there on his website so you can follow along. It simply can’t get any easier than that!

Learn How To Tune and Care for Your VW

If you want to keep your air cooled Volkswagen running at its best and most efficient it is important to keep it tuned up. This includes adjusting those valves.

When it comes to keeping an air cooled Volkswagen engine running efficiently and smoothly takes some tender loving care. If you really get into air cooled engines the time you spend in maintenance will be enjoyable, rewarding and relaxing.

How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive : A Manual of Step-By-Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot is one of the very best books you can have when it comes to working on your air cooled VW. The author lays everything out in very easy to understand and follow terms. In other words he explains everything in plain English.

I can honestly say that no air cooled Volkswagen owner should be without this book!

How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive

How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step by Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot
How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step by Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot
The less Internet-savvy VW fans can rely on many of the tried and true servicing manuals you’ll see referenced over and over on these sites. One is John Muir’s renowned book “How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step-By-Step Procedures for the Complete Idiot.” This unknowing forerunner to today’s “for Dummies” and “The Idiot’s Guide” book series was first published in the 1960’s and is still in print today. It’s an enduring classic that VW fans swear by!

Illustration from How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive

I know exactly how that guy feels!
I know exactly how that guy feels!

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