flat4 - Changes in model years

General information
The following Volkswagen Beetle information mostly applies to models produced in Germany. Some changes on vehicles exported to the U.S. are mentioned in the text.

Models shipped to the U.S. were called "Export" and had a better equipment than the "Standard" model mostly sold in Germany. The look of the exterior design sometimes differs due to legal regulations in the different countries, for example the old semaphores were replaced twoe years by flip-up style turn signals earlier on U.S. models than on European models. "Export" models carried enlarged bumpers with cromed tubes.
History of changes during the model years
1934 - 1937
     Prototypes of the beetle are developed in Stuttgart. The bodies are made by Mercedes-Benz
     body-plant in Sindelfingen. The "final assembly line" is located at Prof. Porsche's home in Stuttgart.
     First test drives in the "black forest area" with 30 prototype vehicles. The vehicles still have no rear window.
     Engine: 984 cm³ engine, 22hp, 5.8 to 1 compression ratio.

    First presentaion of the Beetle called "KdF-Wagen" on the Berlin Motor Show. Split Rear Window installed.

    1100 engine, 25hp, 5.8 to 1 compression ratio.

1948 (split window)
    Chassis #072744 to 091921. Pope Nose license plate light intruduced, combined with single red rear light.
    Nearly all vehicles used for governmental or military use by the Control Comission of Germany (CCG)
    and other institutions.

1949 (split window)
    Chassis #91922 to 138554. Solex carburetor made standard equipment.
    License plate indentation on rear deck dropped. Inside pull cable release for front hood is
    added, eliminating lock on old style L-shaped twist handle. Covers on the dashboard at radio insert.
    "Export" model starts for the non-german markets.

1950 (split window)
    Chassis #138555 to 220133. Cloth Sunroof introduced as an option. Cable Brakes changed to Hydraulic on
    export models. Automatic engine cooling temperature control with the thermostat.
    One part side windows designed to let fresh air into the body. Five leave springs included in the front axle beam.

1951 (split window)
    Chassis #220134 to 313829. Vent flaps called "Rheumaklappen" added to front quarter panels.
    Modifications only on export models:
    Chrome garnish molding added to windshield. Wolfsburg crest added to front hood above handle.
    Double-acting telescopic shocks replace rear lever shocks.

1952 (split window)
    Chassis #313830 to 428156. Crankshaft end play adjustment with three shims. Tire size changed from
    5.00x16 to 5.6x15 (1" reduced rim diameter). Six leaved torsion bars added for increased suspension travel.
    New instrument panel.
    Late 1952 26 PCI carburetor with accelerator pump replaced the old 28 VFIS. "A" transmission with three
    synchronized gears replaced the old crash box. Number of turns made by the window crank changed from
    10-1/2 to 3-1/4. Vent windows added. Vent flaps in front quarter body panels discontinued. Pull-type
    heating control knob replaced by rotary control knob. "T" type rear hood handle replaces loop type handle.
    Twin brake and taillights replace center-mounted single version. Brake lights are shaped like hearts.
    Turn signal control moved to steering wheel from dashboard. Interior light moved to
    center pillar by driver's door. Bumpers and guards strengthened and enlarged. New rear license plate light
    housing. Self-cancelling windshield wipers. Starting crankhole discontinued on all models.

1953 (oval rear window)
    Chassis #428157 to 575414. One rear window glass instead of two since March, 10th. Lock button added to vent window
    handles. Brake fluid reservoir moved from master cylinder to behind spare tire. Exterior trim improved with
    anti-corrosive alloy. Handle added to dash ashtray. Changed third and fourth gear ratios. Changed valve
    setting to .004". Late 1953 Combination vacuum and mechanical advance distributor added. Increased
    generator output to 160 watts. Break-in driving requirement for engine dropped. Tank filler diameter
    increased from 40 mm to 80 mm.

1954 (oval rear window)
    Chassis #575415 to 781884. 1200 engine, 30hp, 6.1 to 1 compression ratio. Larger intake valves. Cylinder
    heads redesigned to provide better cooling for the valves and plugs. 28 PCI carburetor. Starter switch
    taken off dashboard and incorporated with ignition switch. Three-way interior light. Late 1954 6.6 to 1
    compression ratio. Windscreen wipers painted metallic grey and designed smaller.

1955 (oval rear window)
    Chassis #781885 to 929745. The model year 1955 ends July 31st, 1955.
    Flashing turn signals mounted low on front fenders replace semaphores on beetles shipped to the U.S.
    Top window in rear taillight housing ("brake light hearts") dropped. Dished steering wheel.
    New gearshift lever is curved and moved forward. Two chromed tail pipes.Trunk volume increased up to 85 Liters.
    Taillight housing moved 2 inches higher & redesigned with one window only.
New definition of model years: Change is in August instead of January 
    From 1955 the model changes always came in August, meaning that model  
    1956 started in August 1st, 1955. This is very confusing, when speaking about model year  
    and the year the car was made are two different things. 

1956 (oval rear window)
    Chassis #929746 to 1246618. Optional sunroof now made of steel instead of cloth.
    Bumper overriders added to bumper. Black Enamel dual tail pipes are installed on standard
    models. Steering wheel spoke moved lower off center. Adjustable, wider front seats. Heater knob moved
    forward. Redesigned gas tank yields larger luggage space. Larger oil pump mounting shaft. Number four
    main bearing clearance modified. Copper-plated fulcrum plates in universals. Starter motor horsepower
    increased. Fuel filter tap removed. Late 1956 front floor heater outlet moved rearward. Tubeless tires
    introduced on "Export" models.

    Chassis #1246619 to 1600439. Optional sunroof is again a little smaller than previous year. Oil gallery sizes
    increased. Metal camshaft gear. Ring and pinion ratio changed. Brake pedal leverage increased. Adjustable
    striker plates in doors.

    Chassis #1600440 to 2007615. New instrument panel. Larger Windshield. Larger rear window. Frame head
    reinforced. Front turn signals moved to top of fenders. Rear deck lid redesigned. Flat type accelerator
    replaces roller type. Horizontal air inlets replaced vertical inlets on convertibles. A new dished steering
    wheel. Radio grille moved left in front of driver. Wider brake drums and shoes. New clutch release
    assembly with stronger clutch springs. Third and fourth gear ratio changed.

    Chassis #2007616 to 2528667. Outer front suspension control arm bushings changed to needle roller
    bearings. Frame reinforced for greater strength. Anti-sway bar added. Improved fan belt. Stronger clutch
    springs added.

    Chassis #2528668 to 3192506.
    Safety recessed steering wheel. Steering dampener added. "hour glass" Gemmer steering box is worm and
    peg instead of worm and roller. Generator output increased from 160 to 180 watts. Outside door handles
    are now push button instead of pull type. Padded sun visor replaces dark plastic sun visor. Seat back
    contoured for greater comfort. Wolfsburg crest on front hood less colorful.

    Chassis #3192507 to 4010994.
    1200 engine, 40hp, 7 to 1 compression ratio. Fuel pump is now located to the right of the distributor.
    Generater stand is no longer cast as part of the block. Lifters & pushrods are no longer a one-piece unit.
    Valves are now angled in the cylinder heads. 28 PICT carburetor with automatic choke. New tunnel-type
    "AB" "Fully Synchronized" transmission. Vacuum advance distributor. Positive crankcase ventilation. Flatter
    gas tank. 28 blade cooling fan. Permanently greased tie rod ends. "Sissy Bar" added. Non-repeat starter
    switch. Wider front brake shoes and linings. Transparent brake fluid reservoir. Push-on connectors for the
    wiring system. Pump-type windshield washer. Larger heater pipes. Sunvisor and grab-handle provided for
    passenger side.

    Chassis #4010995 to 4846835
    Fuel gauge replaces reserve fuel tap. Switch made from glass to plastic tail lights. Spring balanced front
    hood. Sliding covers on heat outlets. Progressive type valve springs. Anchor points for seat belts. Stronger
    clutch springs. Windshield washer uses spare tire for air pressure. Last year semaphores are offered on
    non-export models.

    Chassis #4846836 to 5677118
    Fresh air heating "Clean-air" engine with redesigned fan housing, muffler, and heat exchangers. Leatherette
    head lining. Folding handle for sunroof. Nylon window guides. Foam sandwich floor mats. Wolfsburg hood
    crest discontinued.

    Chassis #5677119 to 6502399
    Metal replaces fabric in optional sunroof. Horn activated by two thumb buttons replaces half-ring. Bent
    vacuum pipe-formerly a loop. Larger front turn signals. Larger license plate light. Aerated vinyl material
    replaces non-porous leatherette seat upholstery. late 1964 28 PICT-1 Carburetor.

    Chassis #46502400 to 115999000 (System of chassis numbers changed in 1965)
    Master cylinder and wheel cylinders changed. New cooling air control system with flaps in the bottom of the
    fan housing. Heater efficiency improved. Lever type heater and defroster controls replace rotary knob.
    Window and windshield area increased with slightly curved windshield. Slimmer door and windshield posts.
    Window vent made smaller, angled back, and lock moved from bottom to side. More powerful windshield
    wipers and longer wiper blades. New chassis numbering system. Thinner, deeply contoured front seats.
    Increased rear seat knee room. Rear seat folds flat to hold more stuff. Change from T-handle to pushbutton
    engine hood latch. Swivel mounted sun visors. Push-button catch on engine lid. Dome light incorperated in
    rear-view mirror assembly on convertibles.

    Chassis #116000001 to 1161021300
    1300 engine, 50hp. "1300" added to rear deck. 30 PICT-1 carburetor. Cam bearings started. Emergency
    blinker switch. Ventilated wheel slots and flatter hub caps. Larger Rear View Mirror. Headlight dimmer
    switch mounted on turn signal handle instead of floor. Center dashboard defroster outlet. Semi-circular horn
    ring. Ball joint front suspension replaces king pin suspension. Better torsion bars and shocks. Needle wheel
    bearings replace round wheel bearings.

    Chassis #117000001 to 116999000
    1500 engine, 53hp. "Volkswagen" added to rear deck. Squared-off looking rear hood. Rear bumper
    overriders redesigned to clear new deck lid. Changed from 6 to 12 volt system in middle of year. Generator
    increased from 180 to 360 watts with change from 6 to 12 volts. Voltage regulator now mounted under rear
    seat instead of on generator. Wider swing axels provide wider track in rear. Clutch disk increased in size
    from 180 to 200 mm. 130 tooth (200mm) flywheel replaces 109 tooth (180mm) flywheel. Dual master
    cylinder brake system. Outside door handle has round push button. Recessed inside plastic door handles.
    Two-speed windshield wipers. Back-up lights. Single unit headlights. Locking buttons on doors. Driver
    armrest added. Slimmer outside chrome trim. Left outside mirror becomes standard equipment. Z-Bar
    added to rear suspension in an attempt to improve handling.

    Chassis #118000001 to 1181016100
    Automatic stick shift with double jointed rear axles added as an option. New bumpers. Hubcaps are now
    even flatter than before. Beginning of plastic dashes on bugs. Big black knob added to vent window handle.
    Gear shifter is now straight instead of crooked. Changed from five to four lug. Bigger front brakes. Bigger
    rear brakes. Solex 30 PICT-2 carburetor. Gas tank filler moved from under hood to right front fender. Brake
    fluid reservoir moved from under spare tire to driver side wall. Combined gas gauge into speedometer
    gauge. Gas gauge is now electrical instead of mechanical. Oil warning light changed from green to red.
    Outside door handle button now has to be squeezed instead of pushed. Larger tail lights. Head restraints
    built into front seat backrests. Energy-absorbing collapsible steering column. Exhaust emission control

late 1968
    Front Hood release moved to glove compartment. Gas filler cover has inside release.

    Chassis #119000001 to 1191200000
    Double-jointed rear axles on all models. Swing axle transaxle is replaced by IRS transaxle. (Independent
    Rear Suspensn) Warning lights in speedometer identified by letters or symbols. Day/night rear-view mirror.
    Rear window defroster. Ignition lock combined with steering wheel lock. Warm air outlet at base of the
    doors moved rearward. Remote control knobs are mounted on door columns.

late 1969
    Tenths of mile indicator on odometer.

    Chassis #1102000001 to 1103100000
    1600 engine, 57hp. Larger turn signals. Larger tail lights with side reflectors on housing. Air intake slots on
    engine lid. Added a pressure control valve in lubrication system. (Dual relief case) Solex 30 PICT-3
    carburetor. Diaphram spring clutch replaces coil spring clutch to provide quicker engagement with less
    pedal pressure. Head restraints on front seats reduced in size. Lock in glove compartment door. Remote
    control knobs for warm air outlets discontinued. Buzzer sounds when door is opened and key is left in
    ignition. "Formula Vee" Beetle introduced.

late 1970
    New third and fourth gears with finer teeth resulted in better mesh and reduced transmission noise.

    Chassis #1112000001 to 1113200000
    1600 engine with dual port heads introduced, 60hp. Installed a flow-through air system with vents behind
    rear windows. Tail lights changed again. Three part intake manifold. Chrome exhaust valve stems. New
    combination vacuum/centrifugal advance distributor. Installed the activated charcoal filter for the gas tank
    fumes. Solex 34 PICT-3 carburetor. Door buzzer. New oil cooler which causes a bump in the fan shrouding
    (dog house style) which cools cylinder number three better. Pressed-in engine mounting nut on the left side
    of case. New clutch throw-out assembly and ball bearing. Headlights go off when the ignition is off. First
    year of super beetle. It has McPherson struts and bigger front brakes.

late 1971
    Larger oil pump. Different camshaft with four rivets instead three holding camshaft gear. Seperate wiring
    harness added for VW Computer Analysis system.

    Chassis #1122000000 to 1123200000
    Air intake slots on rear hood increased from two to four. Many more hoses and complicated gizmos for
    smog control. New steering column with safty collapse feature. New distributor with a vacuum retard at idle.
    Exhaust reburner. (EGR) New muffler. Transmission third and fourth gear synchronizer rings were modified
    to prevent fourth gear howling which sometimes resulted from a cold transmission. Special "Baja Bug"
    introduced. Ghia has bigger front disc pads.

late 1972
    Tires changed from 5.60x15 to 6.00x15.

    Chassis #1132000001 to 1133200000
    Chassis #1332000001 to 1333200000 (only 1303 Super Beetle)
    Horsepower drops from 60 to 58. Alternator replaces generator in mid-year and increases output to 600W.
    Improved intake pre-heating for faster cold-weather starts. Huge round taillights and front turn signals.
    Reinforcement of the engine case in the flywheel area near number 3 cylinder. Softer transmission mounting
    with different style mounts. More durable, easier to operate clutch. Porsche-style pressure plate. Oil drain
    plug removed from oil strainer cover. New three point front seats adjustable to 77 different positions. New
    heavy duty braced doors. New fuel pump redesigned with cutoff valve and made to clear alternator. Front
    and rear wheel bearings no longer require periodic lubrication. Redesigned fresh air system. Paper filter air
    cleaner. New curved windshield and expensive, big dash in super beetle. Interior light assembly changed.
    Stronger bumpers add an inch to overall length. "Sports Bug" introduced.

    Chassis #1142000001 to 1142999000
    Chassis #1342000001 to 1342999000 (only 1303 Super Beetle)
    New self restoring energy absorbing bumpers. New quieter muffler. New cylinder head alloy for better heat
    dissipation. Steering wheel made more elastic to "give" more in case of an accident. Smaller front seat
    headrests give better visibility for a change. Computer check sensor pressed into top of block, close to
    flywheel, to read TDC (top dead center). Computer check sensor to check ignition voltage. Seat belt ignition
    interlock system added. Seat belt and brake warning lights combined into single unit. Super beetle and
    convertible have a bit of negative king pin offset for better tracking under braking conditions. Super beetle
    has a square glove compartment lock instead of round. Warning light for hand brake. Ghia has thicker front
    disc pads. Last year of Ghia in United States. "Love Bug" and "Sun Bug" introduced.

late 1974
    Alternator has an integral regulator. Distributor is now vacuum and centrifically activated.

    Chassis #1152000001 to 1152600000
    Chassis #1352000001 to 1352600000 (only 1303 Super Beetle)
    Fuel injection replaces carburetor. Engine case now made from a better alloy classified as AS21. It retains
    its original structure and sheds heat better than previous cases. Engine case no longer has a hole for the
    old mechanical fuel pump. "Fuel Injection" added to rear deck. Larger exhaust valve stems for better heat
    transfer. Clutch pedal pressure eased. New heat exchangers for greater output. Odometer triggers red
    warning light "EGR" in speedometer to notify drivers of service requirement. Single tailpipe. Last year of the
    super beetle in United States. "Le Grande Bug" introduced.

    Chassis #1162000001 to 1162200000
    Chassis #1562000001 to 1562200000 (only 1303 Cabrio)
    Metallic paint, full carpeting, sports-style wheel rim, and rear window defogger are now standard
    equipment. Redesigned front seats with improved back adjustments. All trim components chrome-plated.
    Two-speed fresh air fan standard on all models. Automatic Stick Shift discontinued.

late 1976
    New speedometer with outer scale in miles per hour and inner scale in kilometer.

    Chassis #1172000001 to 1172200000
    Chassis #1572000001 to 1572200000 (only 1303 Cabrio)
    Front seats have new backrests with seperate adjustable headrests. Redesigned door panels. Redesigned
    pedal pads. Plastic headlight rings replace chrome-plated metal units. Last year of beetle in United States.
    "Champagne Edition" convertible introduced.

    Chassis #1182000001 to 1182100001 until Jan. 1st, 1978
    Chassis #1582000001 to 1582100000 until Jan. 1st, 1978 (only 1303 Cabrio)
    "Champagne II Edition" convertible introduced.

    Chassis #1192100001 to 1192200000
    Chassis #1592000001 to 1592036062 (only 1303 Cabrio)
    Intermittent windshield wiper system standard equipment. "Epilog" special edition released.
    Last year of convertible in United States.

   Chassis #11A0020000 
    Chassis #1592036063 to 1592043634 (1303 Cabrio until Dez. 1st, 1979)
    Remaining cars built after 12/31/79 carried 1979 serial numbers for emission reasons.
    VW 1200 Limousines are imported from Puebla/Mexico to Europe. 

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