Junkyard Gem: 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Coupe

Murilee Martin


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With all the junkyard visits I make, I've had the opportunity to photograph many discarded Volkswagen Beetles, from a '68 with a Pinto engine swap in California to a turbocharged '01 Beetle Sport in Colorado. Because I drove an extraordinarily sketchy '58 Beetle in high school, I try to keep up with junkyard Beetle events, and so I was pleased to find a crashed example of the very last generation of Beetle made: this 2012 Coupe in Colorado Springs.

The previous generation of retro-styled Beetle appeared here in 1997 (years before production of the original Type 1 air-cooled Beetle ceased in Mexico), and I see plenty of these cars in boneyards around the country nowadays; the car in the photograph above is an '01 model. The novelty of a Golf with somewhat Beetle-ish body wore off quickly once hordes of nostalgified PT Cruisers, HHRs, Minis, 500s and the like roamed every highway, and so the more Beetle-y look of this car's successor seemed like a good idea.

Still a Golf underneath, but the lines look more like 1949 (or 2004, if you prefer) than the 1997-2011 Beetles' did.

Unless we're talking about a super-cheap car that doesn't hold up so well in the resale-value department (e.g., Mitsubishi Mirage, Fiat 500), most cars under a decade old in a big self-service junkyard will be crash victims. The cost of replacing all those popped airbags alone can be enough to total a 21st-century car, and the value of a salvage-title non-truck in Colorado approaches scrap value. This VW had a not-very-severe fender-bender, and that's all she wrote.

The 1961-styled (or 1952, or 1974, or whatever air-cooled Beetle year you prefer) wheel covers look pretty good on these cars. I came close to buying this one to hang on my garage wall, but I'd have had to move my wall-mounted Porsche 928 intake to make room for it.

This 2.5-liter straight-five made 170 horsepower and was much more fun with the 5-speed manual transmission. This car has the 6-speed automatic. Car manufacturers need to bring back the transverse-mounted straight-six engine (see: Suzuki Verona, Volvo S80), I say.

Did this car get crashed after leaving a Saint Patrick's Day party? That possibility makes its story sadder, somehow.

I don't expect to see the Turbo A5s in these yards for a few more years.

This ad is worth watching just for the sight of a mid-1960s police Beetle in hot pursuit of a chocolate-brown early-1970s Chrysler C-Body sedan. The axle-jacking jounce action on the Beetle's swingaxle suspension must have been exciting for the un-helmeted stunt driver.

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