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The Karmann Cabriolet 1949 - 1980

Below are some of the changes for each year's production:



1949 - Production starts on June including an 1131cc 25 hp motor; as of October delivered without a starting crank, roller type gas pedal.

1950 - As of January, thickening between headlights and fenders, as of April hydraulic brakes replaced mechanical brakes driven by cables. In June an ashtray was placed over the starter button.

1951 - Vent openings put behind the front fenders in April; Wolfsburg arms on the front hood; telescopic instead of strut shock absorbers, stronger generator. In November, armrests for the rear seats were discontinued.

1952 - In October, 2nd, 3rd, 4th gears were synchronized; front vent windows added. Other features included a new dashboard design, a glove compartment with a door and push button; brake lights were now at the top of the taillight housings; bigger windshield wipers; turn signal lever and starter button was moved to the left of the steering wheel.

1953 - In January, an oil bath air filter. March brought an ashtray with a small handle integral with the dashboard: in December an 1192 cc 30 hp motor, automatic and controllable instrument lighting, combined ignition and starter lock.

1954 - A resin instead of nitro finish, two sun visors, a top boot without a fold in the seat, and new seat upholstery came in May.

1955 - August of that year brought a muffle with two tailpipes; new easier to grip steering wheel with deep spokes; bent gearshift lever; wider front seats; seat backs adjustable to three positions, new leatherette interior upholstery with borders; rear lights mounted 6 cm higher; Karmann Ghia coupe production begins in August.

1956 - As of July, tubeless tires, in September, brass instead of iron top fastening pins were used, in October a side view mirror became standard.

1957 (Big changes) - A steering wheel with a horn ring, turn signals now turn off automatically and flash beginning September. In August the roller pedal was changed to a gas pedal, vent louvers are now horizontal instead of vertical, the windshield grew almost 8 percent, and the rear window by 45 percent and longer wiper blades were added. Karmann Ghia convertible production begins August 1.

1958 - Ivory disc wheels in January. February 15 brought front and rear bumper protectors in the US version.

1959 - Steering wheel with two spokes and a deep hub, door handles with locking knobs, removable rear wall with window, 180 instead of 160 watt generator.

1960 - Beginning in March, cords were added to the hollows of the top seams. In August the 34 hp motor was added, as well as screw on top catches, the speedometer went from 74 to 87 mph, and a windshield wiper - washer system was added. In November, the front directional light changed from white to amber.

1961 - Changes in May brought a combined tail-brake-directional lights in a two section design. July brought a gas gauge, and November brought a conical gearshift with a small knob.

1962 - Improved hydraulic brakes.

1963 - Horn ring changed to a button; VW hubcap emblem is no longer painted, seats now have synthetic instead of wool upholstery. October brought bigger directional lights on the front fenders.

1964 - Windows got a little bigger.  

1965- Improved front axle, de-froster vent in the center of the dashboard, pierced wheels.

1967 (Big changes) - Vertical head lights, new bumpers, fuel filler cap on the right front sidewall, new door locks with inside locks, dashboard padding, dual - circuit braking system, shorter shift lever, safety steering column. (I think this was European version... weren't these 68 changes on US models? In fact I think most of the changes at this point on were different between Euro and US spec cars.)

1968 - Interior hood release, opening rear window of safety glass, top catches at the sides of the top frame.

1969 - Additional fresh air vents on the hood.<br>

1970 - Larger trunk space; additional fresh air vents on the dashboard; spring front suspension; 1.6 liter 50 hp motor.

1971 - Slightly changed engine hood, now with 26 louvers, safety steering wheel with four spokes, new windshield wiper washer lever on the right side of the steering column.

1972 (Big changes)- Completely new dashboard, strongly arched windshield, big round taillights.

1973 - Beetle convertible only available as Type 1303 LS. (Super Beetle)

1974 - Front directional lights set in the bumper, convertible only available as Type 1303, black exhaust pipes.

1975-79 - No major changes except in color changes.

1980 - Beetle convertible production ends January 10.  :( 


Taken from VW BEETLE, by Clive Prew; Smithmark Publishers; 1990 and

VW BEETLE CONVERTIBLE, by Walter Zeichner, Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1989