1977 Volkswagen Karmann Beetle

Guide Price £12,000 - £16,000


∙Numbers-matching Italian import
∙Excellent mechanical condition 
∙Desirable colour combination

The Background

The humble Volkswagen Beetle is a true ‘flagstone’ car of the automotive industry. Up there with the likes of the Model T and the Austin Mini, the Beetle revolutionised transport for the average joe, offering comfort, reliability and style without eye-watering price tags.

However, for those that wanted to spend a little more for some extra style and street-cred, famed stylists and automotive industry manufacturers Karmann began producing convertible ‘peoples cars’ as early as 1949, with a folding soft-top frame in place of the standard solid roof or ‘rag-top’ section.

In order to compensate for the loss in structural integrity, the chassis was modified with additional bracing, welded U-channel rails, and double-walled side cowl panels were fitted to gain back lost rigidity. 

Unusually for cabriolets of their time at this price point, the folding top had a full-length inner headliner to hide the mechanism, giving the Karmann convertible a much more up-market look than may have been expected from the Beetle. 

Later (post-1969) cars also gained a heated rear window, along with most convertibles featuring luxuries such as dual rear ashtrays, twin map pockets, rear stone shields and wheel trim rings - all very posh and somewhat at odds with the nature of the ‘peoples car’ though they sold well, with a total of 331,847 Karmann cabriolets built when production ceased in January 1980.

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The History

This particular 1200-engined, 1977-registered example began its life in the wonderful Mediterranean climate of Mantova, Italy, specified in the unusual but gorgeous colour combination of Reef Blue over a Pale Sand interior. 

Evidently, the original purchaser didn’t mind spending a little extra for some ‘special configuration’ options either, choosing to equip the car with front and side-mounted indicator lights - something that seems rather necessary in today’s world!

Of particular note is the fact that the engine is confirmed to be the original numbers-matching engine the car was equipped with when it left the factory, which will no doubt excite any potential bidders.

Having enjoyed the company of two keepers in Italy and amassing several service stamps in the accompanying booklet, the car was brought over to the UK by the previous UK keeper during the 1980’s, being registered on its current plate on 02 February 1989.

Purchased by our vendor during July 2021, this Beetle has proven to be reliable and free of any issues during the vendor’s tenure with the car, and it is now up for sale ready for the next owner to enjoy classic, air-cooled drop-top motoring.

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The Paperwork

Included with the car is the original service record from the car’s time in Italy, along with an old insurance/registration document and what appears to be a shipping or registration transfer document from when the car was imported to the UK.

From its time here in slightly less-sunny Northern Europe, there is an old MOT certificate, copy of the V5 showing one former keeper, and the all-important Volkswagen Classic certificate, confirming the numbers-matching status of the car, along with the original specification. 

The vendor notes that all the keys fit all the locks and ignition barrel, which is an excellent sign that the car has likely never been broken into or had the locks changed.

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The Interior

Inside, the Pale Sand leatherette interior has worn very well indeed, and remains in excellent visual condition, with no noted or reported rips, tears or major scuffs to the seat covers.

The carpets and floor mats look to be in a similar condition, showing light usage marks but nothing more untoward. Crucially, the vendor notes there appears to be no sign of any water ingress or damp issues, which is excellent news.

Speaking of the soft top, on the inside there is some light staining noted to the headliner - especially around the C-pillar area - but nothing that is not commensurate with the car’s age and mileage, and no visible damage is noted.

Whilst there is very little that could go wrong inside, the vendor reports there are no known faults with the car, meaning the good news keeps on coming!

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The Exterior

On the outside, the story is very much the same, with the car presenting generally in excellent condition throughout. 

The Reef Blue paintwork looks to be in fine order, which was no doubt helped by the dry climate in Italy and subsequent dry garage storage by the previous UK owner, which has all come together to preserve the paintwork well.

There are, of course, a few areas of wear such as stone chips, light marks and the odd scuff or two - noted particularly on the inner front nearside wing, inboard of the headlight - but overall this late-model Beetle is in good form, and all of the correct chrome pieces appear to be present.

The folding soft-top fitted to the car is believed to be the original item the car left the factory with, which is excellent news for purists and preservationists. Naturally, that means there is some wear to the fabric, especially around the outer edges where there are a few cracks, but there is no sign of any leaks or water ingress. 

Should you wish to sacrifice the originality of the hood for the sake of regular use and perhaps extra peace-of-mind, a brand-new soft top is included with the car, as shown in the box in the gallery below.

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The Mechanicals

Although the vendor has only owned the car for a short period of time, they report that the 120cc air-cooled flat-four engine is running well, and the car drives fantastically, even supplying a short video to illustrate the point. 

Of course, thanks to its age, this Beetle is exempt from mandatory UK MOT testing, though there are no reported issues with the car, and as far as we can see, the area around the battery tray is solid and free from any worrying signs. 

The Appeal

With its instantly-recognisable appearance, air-cooled soundtrack and wind-in-your-hair motoring, the Karmann Convertible VW Beetle was rightly an enormous success in its day, and is still wonderfully popular among enthusiasts and classic car drivers.

This particular 1977-registered, Italian-imported example looks to be in excellent shape throughout, is confirmed to be ‘numbers matching’ and benefits from a brand-new soft-top included with the sale of the vehicle, should the new owner wish to fit it.

An excellent example of a late-model, drop-top VW Beetle, and a fantastic opportunity for an VW enthusiast to make the most of the remaining summer months with the wind in their hair and a glorious flat-four soundtrack to boot - what’s not to like?

Notice to bidders

Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing. Please ensure you are satisfied with the vehicle description and all information provided before placing a bid.

As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. All bids are legally binding once placed. Any winning bidder who withdraws from a sale, is subject to our bidders fee charge. Please see our FAQs and T&C's for further information. Viewings of vehicles are encouraged, but entirely at the seller's discretion.

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1977
  • Make Volkswagen
  • Model Beetle
  • Colour Blue
  • Odometer 90,365 Kilometers
  • Engine size 1200
Auction Details
  • Seller Type Private
  • Location Yorkshire
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
64 bids
  • ro•••• £15,250 07/12/21
  • ro•••• £15,000 07/12/21
  • Qt•••• £14,750 07/12/21
  • ro•••• £14,500 07/12/21
  • Qt•••• £14,250 07/12/21
  • ro•••• £14,000 07/12/21
  • Qt•••• £13,750 07/12/21
  • ro•••• £13,500 07/12/21
  • Qt•••• £13,250 07/12/21
  • ro•••• £13,000 07/12/21

The Gallery

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