Due to a turn of bad events I'm currently looking for an inexpensive form of transportation. Being an ecletic sort of person I don't just want to get some 80's model toyota corolla or something like that. I'm considering getting a 70's model Beetle.

My father had a VW when I was a young child and a friend of mine had one for a while so I know a little bit about them but I have a few questions. Are replacement parts and expert mechanics hard to come by in Arkansas? I understand that they are mechanically more simple than the average car. Does this translate into more relaible? Is there anything specific to watch out for or avoid when looking at purchasing a Beetle? I only work a half mile from my home but I travel around the city quite a bit and take the ocassional road trip. Is it ok to have a Beetle as a primary form of transportation?

I think that's about it. I'd appreciate any other advice anyone has to offer.
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Can a VW be a daily driver? Yes
Are parts plentiful? Yes
Parts are fairly cheap compared to alot of other cars out there.
If you can do alot of the maintenance yourself that is a plus.
VW's require more maintentance then newer cars, for example...
you must adjust the valves every 3000 miles
Adjust the points unless you upgrade to electronic ignition
Change the oil every 3000 Miles (The VW is oil cooled as much as air cooled)
You will also need to do regular brake adjustments since the drum brakes are not self adjusting.
All this can be done at home in an afternoon with basic tools.
The hard part is finding a car at the price you want to pay in the condition you want.  Rust is a big concern especially up here in Indiana.
The plus side is new engines, transmissions are fairly cheap.

My '74 Super is a semi daily driver.  I drive it on nice days and park it for the winter.  I'd love to drive it in the winter since they are awesome in the snow but it wouldn't last long due to the salt on the roads.

I drive about 25 miles to work(One way) on the highway and it keeps up just fine.  My car is 100% stock with the original engine.

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Most important ...have a good VW mechanic and keep him in supply of beer!  If you're not handy with tools and know cars you'll go nuts.  Don't get me wrong Bugs are great, but you can't just take them to the gas station mechanic and expect to get things fixed right.  These little German cars have a mind of their own and you'd better know what you're doing when you start tinkering around.
My 73 has well over 300,000 miles and keeps on going.
Good luck.  Try to stay away from the rust.
Loren R. Knapp
In The Hot Sonoran Desert of Arizona - 73 Super Beetle "The Blues."
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flash wrote:
Most important ...have a good VW mechanic and keep him in supply of beer!  If you're not handy with tools and know cars you'll go nuts.  Don't get me wrong Bugs are great, but you can't just takle them to the gas station mechanic and expect to get things fixed right.  These little German cars have a mind of their own and you'd better know what you're doing when you start tinkering around.
My 73 has well over 300,000 miles and keeps on going.
Good luck.  Try to stay away from the rust.

Loren, since they are in greater supply out where you live it is easy to find a good shop. Out here most mechanics have never worked on them and the ones that have have retired. For example my mechanic is very good but when I took my VW in he calls me up to ask where the battery was LOL
I agree on trying to find a rust free one but that again is very hard out here unless you go to Cali or Arizona and pick one up there.
Back in the '60's,'70's most people in the Midwest bought and drove American which makes them even more rare.  I can go a week or two without seeing another VW 
My '74 runs good but has it's share of rust in the heater channels and floor.
When finances allow me, I will be taking a trip out to Cali to visit family and find a solid VW to bring home. 

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well i'm from arkansas.. parts are extremely easy to come by if you live near Little Rock. theres a place called Roy Rogers there.. also vws are plentiful.. theres 2 buses and a super in the paper right now...

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Have to agree with ML up here in VT I know of more VW bugs forgotten in barns then I have seen on the road I can name 3 conv, one 74 Sport and one I think is a 1950's. Yes I would have to go to the retirement home to find a VW mech... It is hard to find a VW in VT that does not have rust/rot, I walked away from a 75 auto-stick could have bought it for $500 but was really only a parts care unless you really wanted to fix it in which any VW is repairable depends on what you want to spend or do.

I have a 73 Super I am restoring pans, heater channels, interior, complete only because I want to learn about these cars in a deeper manner then just washing waxing putting gas in and driving to a shop. If I mess it up Im sure I can find somebody to straighten it out for a price. I will be a heck of a lot picker for the next on which Im sure will be from out west....According to my wife I have spent enough on new tools and stuff to buy a Restored VW and have it shipped to my house for less...........
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Here is an article from Volkswoman that I think can answer all of your questions:

Do You Care Enough!?

The following article by Lois Grace, “Volkswoman,”
appeared in VW Trends magazine.


Volkswagens are unusual creatures. They are very easy to work on, parts are relatively inexpensive, and if given the best of care they don’t ask for much. But when a prospective VW buyers asked me recently if I thought VWs were ‘low maintenance,’ I had to say no. Aircooled VWs are a lot of things: fun, reliable, cool, retro, cuddly. But they are not low maintenance. Those of us in this hobby already know the nuances of good VW care; doing regular tuneups and valve adjustments, frequent oil changes and a few other assorted things keeps them happy. To the new VW hobbyist, the ‘simple’ aircooled VWs might seem like an easy way to have fun while driving an older car. Nothing could be further from the truth, because nothing is less fun than finding yourself in a dead VW alongside some highway, which is what will happen to you if you think your VW can run forever with no attention! I know firsthand about vintage VW ownership and care because I learned the hard way.

My first big VW-care blunder happened many years ago when I drove my ‘59 Single Cabriolet home without a spare fan belt. The look on my Dad’s face when he heard what I’d done is still with me, 25 years later! He immediately opened up the car’s engine lid and stuck his head inside. When the belt had broken, I’d only been about a half mile from home and all I could think of was what Dad would say if I walked home and he had to go back and tow the car. I figured it was better to get the car home any way I could. Lesson to learn here: if your fan belt breaks, anywhere, do not keep driving! Walk 50 miles if you have to, but don’t drive! I know I did, but I was young and senseless and besides, I know better now.

My second big screw-up happened when my ‘69 Beetle Bogart was inexplicably getting 36 mpg. For months, whenever I accelerated, I’d get a puff of white smoke out the back. I noticed that a tank of gas lasted forever and my mileage went up and up and up. Of course who is going to complain about great mileage? I happily drove the poor Bug for months like this, bragging about my great mileage. The only thing that bothered me was that Bogie’s engine really stunk sometimes, it smelled like something burning. Even that didn’t wake me up. I had driven the poor car like that for nearly a year, when the alarm went off late one Sunday afternoon as my husband and I were driving the car home from the Sacramento Bug-O-Rama. Halfway up the steep incline of Altamont Pass, Bogie suddenly said ‘Pop!’ very loudly on the left side. Accompanying the pop was a burst of smoke and a very sudden loss of power. I pulled to the side and a quick test proved what we had been too dumb to worry about: a burned piston. We were 45 miles from home, on a steep grade and it was getting dark. There was nothing I could do but drive the car home on the remaining three cylinders. I sure felt stupid when I realized that I could have avoided this little exercise completely if I’d just checked and adjusted my valves regularly (not to mention taking a peek at the timing and carburetor adjustment!). One valve job and a partial rebuild later, I was a much wiser VW owner.

I think the thing that annoys me the most are the folks who abuse VWs and then gripe and complain when they break down! More than once I have had people tell me they’ve had a VW or two, and they go on to say, “It was the worst car I ever owned. I couldn’t wait to get rid of it.” Why do they blame the car for their own lack of care? If someone asks me what it’s like to take care of a VW, I always tell them the truth: you’d better like adjusting things, because older Volkswagens require frequent attention to detail in order to run their best. Learn to take care of your VW today, and it will take care of you tomorrow.

While an older VW can run seemingly forever at less than peak performance, don’t begrudge your Bug the care or service it deserves -- your kindness will be repaid 100 times over by reliable, faithful service.

72 Super Beetle
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Wow! The article above states it 100% correct.  Well written and well said.  People in general just beat the hell out of these little cars and they run and run as long as their hearts and souls allow and then have to give up the ghost because of their owners lack of good maintenace sense.

Loren R. Knapp
In The Hot Sonoran Desert of Arizona - 73 Super Beetle "The Blues."
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I'm probably only going to have about 1,500 - 2,000 left after the sale of my vehicle. Would it be reasonable to find a Beetle with a good engine, drivetrain and body for that amount of money? I could take care of the interior and other cosmetic improvements later but my main concern is something fairly reliable.

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VW prices are all over ranging from $500 to $25,000 
check out TheSamba.com to get an idea of what you can get for the price.
Any car you get should be checked out by a mechanic as far as the engine and transmission and brakes. 
Can you get a good running VW for $1,500? Possibly but it's gonna need  cosmetic work at the very least.
Keep in mind that the Super Beetles are going for less then an older standard beetle, that is changing but for the most part you can get a better car for less money. The fact that the Supers are newer helps in the condtion of the car.
In case you don't know
Supers are '71 & '72 these have the flat windshield
'73-'75 have the curved windshield with a full dashboard.
'73-'75 usually go for less but not always
The way to tell if it is a super is the front end has struts instead of the torsion bar front end and the spare tire lies flat instead of upright like a standard beetle.
BTW VW continued the standard flat windshield beetle till '77

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I'm kinda torn on what ML says. Yes you can get a Super for less, sometimes. It depends on what's been done to them mechanically. The problem you'll find on Supers though is parts are generally more expensive. Not always, but when it comes to new part dealers you'll most likely pay more. On the other hand the later stuff seems to go cheaper at the swap meets. It's a fine edge sword really.
Best bet is to take your time and don't rush into anything. You'll find the right car for you for what you've got to spend. Location is a big part of how much you'll be able to afford. East coast is generally higher due to weather/salt/rust etc...
There are some very decent cars out there for $1500. Depending on what your more comfortable working on, engine or body, you can decide where you can save dough at. Decent body with not the greatest engine or a nice mechanically sound ride that needs some body work. Just don't jump into it, it's easy to do believe me.

'63 Ragtop
'56 Ragtop
'78 Riviera camper

"..at least I'm enjoyin' the ride"
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Your right about some of the Super parts being more expensive. My first car was a '69 so I am kinda partial to that year, my Mom owned a '68.
I've also had a '62 rag on a '68 pan, and a 77 standard mexican beetle
My current car is a '74 Super with the curved windshield.  Years back I didn't really like these cars much, I thought they were ugly compared to my '69 and most people would shun you at VW events if you drove a Super.
I do like the strut front suspension it seems to ride nicer and turns sharper.
I've been thinking my next car will probably be a '71 or '72 Super since I am still partial to the flat windshield, but am not against finding a nice '68 or '69
Like Steve said don't be in too much of a hurry to find one you'll find the right one eventually.
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A great point made by others here....Don't be in a hurry! Don't open a big fat can of worms with car that will be a pain in the butt to bring up to any kind of drivability.
Who knows there might be one just down the block in a little old ladies garage that has been up on blocks fo 30 years and is just like new!  Put the word out and you never know who may come up with something.  We have tons of rust free Bugs out here in Arizona.
Good luck...hang in there!

Loren R. Knapp
In The Hot Sonoran Desert of Arizona - 73 Super Beetle "The Blues."
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