1957 Volkswagen Beetle convertible, part of the 1953-1979 Volkswagen Beetle line of collectible cars.
1957 Volkswagen Beetle convertible

In light of the current "retro-look" (including a retro Beetle), it's impossible to overlook the 1953-1979 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible as a collectible. After all, Beetle ragtops of all years are in strong demand, and have been for some time.

Karmann of Osnabruck carried out the assembly work on the Beetle, including installation of the typically Teutonic folding top. When buttoned up, the convertible was as tight and quiet as the sedan thanks to its thick "sandwich" top construction and glass (not plastic) rear window. When folded down, however, the top created an enormous "bustle," giving the car a look like that of no other.

Styling and mechanical refinements followed those made to sedan models over the years, so let your taste and pocketbook be your guide. The parts situation naturally gets progressively better the newer the model you're talking about.

The last Beetle convertibles were built in 1979, and by that time had become quite expensive in the U.S. owing to inflation and the relative value of the dollar versus the deutsche mark. These will no doubt command the highest collector prices as time goes on as "last of the line" models.

In all, the VW ragtop is an automobile with permanent appeal, a piece of history that you can still drive every day.

Pluses of the 1953-1979 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible:

  • Strong appreciation
  • A coast-to-coast network of dealers still happy to provide service
  • High-quality materials and finish
  • Beetle reliability, simplicity

Minuses of the 1953-1979 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible:

  • All the Beetle's well-known infuriations
  • Somewhat greater rust susceptibility and high rebuild costs for the soft top

Production of the 1953-1979 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible:
20,000 per year (estimated average)

Specifications of the 1953-1979 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible:
Wheelbase, inches: 94.5 (1953-1972), 95.3 (1973-1979)
Length, inches:
160.0 (1953-1971), 165.0 (1972-1979)
Weight, pounds: 2,000 (average)
Price, new:
$1,995 (1953), $6,800 (1979) in U.S.

Engines for the 1953-1979 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible:

TypeSize
Horsepower
Years
ohv flat 4 1,192 cc (72.7 cid)36/40 1953-1965
ohv flat 41,289 cc (78.4 cid)501966
ohv flat 41,493 cc (91.1 cid)53-571967-1979
ohv flat 41,583 cc (96.6 cid)601971

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