Safer Motoring  (1978 - 1981)

Early articles

Various items, including the protracted 'Who's got the last Beetle ?' debate

From Safer Motoring, December 1979
It was the front cover picture which drew my attention initially to the November issue of Safer Motoring and in particular the write-up about Mr John Miller of Thetford, Norfolk, who claims he is not only the owner of the first VW Beetle imported into the UK but also the owner of one of the last Beetles imported here.

It would appear that Mr Miller is very much more an enthusiast with Beetles than I will ever be, and I am sure that if he is in possession of the first and possibly the last Beetles imported into Britain then he must be very proud. However, although I do not meant to upset his ego in any way I think it may be that I am the proud owner of the last new VW Beetle brought into the UK.

I registered my Beetle on Dec 14 1977. As this model ceased production in 1977 and mine was registered just 17 days before the end of the year, I wonder if I am the owner of the last one.
L.N. Rochester, Hayes, Middlesex.

From Safer Motoring, January - February 1980
I was interested to read Mr. L.N. Rochester's letter in the Dec 1979 issue of Safer Motoring, and to see the picture of his Beetle 1200 L. I rather doubt, however, whether his car is the last Beetle to be imported into the UK as I understand the very last Beetle had a commemorative plaque displayed on the dashboard and inside.

I personally took delivery of my new Beetle 1200 L on April 12 1978. It is not one of the silver Last Edition models but is Miami Blue in colour, and the chassis number is 1182008384. I understand that some of the Last Edition Beetles have an earlier chassis number.

When I purchased my first new Beetle in July 1963 the price was £625, whereas my latest Beetle cost £2,876 on the road. Nevertheless I am very satisfied with this vehicle and there is no other model or make of car that I would rather have, except perhaps an air-cooled Porsche!
K. Ratcliffe, Buxton, Derbys.

From Safer Motoring, March 1980
I was interested to read the letter from Mr. Rochester 'The last Beetle?' and see the picture of his 1200 L Beetle in the Dec 1979 issue, but I do not think this can be the last UK Beetle as I recall another bearing that title advertised in 1978. Presumably, the final Beetle is number 300 of the 'Last Edition' series.

Perhaps I could mention my own silver 'Last Edition' 1200 L, first registered in August 1978, which thus carries a 'T' registration mark. It is remarkable how many people, when they see the car, ask the inevitable question 'How did you get a 'T' registration Beetle?'. The truth is that it remained unsold in the local VW agent's until then!
F.M. Wall, Walthamstow, London.

Having just read the Jan/Feb issue of Safer Motoring and the continuing saga of 'Who's got the last Beetle in the UK ?' I would like to point out that I may not have car No. 300 of the Last Edition Silver Beetle, but I must have the youngest, as I am the proud owner of a four-months-old silver Last Edition Beetle, plaque No. 230, reg. no. FMY 547V.

The story is that my Beetle nutter husband noticed an unregistered Last Edition specimen in a local showroom, the owner of which said he had bought two untouched Beetles from a man who had stored them in a barn on blocks and still covered in wax! Mine has just had its first free 600-mile service (there were only 50 miles on the clock when I took delivery of it on October 10 last).

If anyone would like a new Beetle, the other one is, at the time of writing, still in the Herne Hill SE24 showroom awaiting a new owner.
Jackie Doorey, Wood Green, London.

From Safer Motoring, April 1980
I have read with interest the letters arising from that of Mr. LN Rochester's 'The Last Beetle?' (Dec 1979 issue), and I wonder whether Safer Motoring might be interested in collecting and publishing a list of Last Edition Beetles. It seems clear that a good number of their owners are regular readers, and in years to come it would be interesting to chart the vehicles' progress and would no doubt be valuable to Beetle collectors and admirers.

To start the ball rolling here are details of my own car: 1200 L. Bought from VW agents Parker and Parker in Kendal. Registered CEC 57S. Last Edition plaque No. 81. Engine No. D1417417. Chassis No. 1182007231.
Richard A. Gepping, Kendal, Cumbria.

From Safer Motoring, May 1980
Reference the healthy discussions in various readers' letters originally provoked by L.N. Rochester ('The last Beetle?' Dec 1979 issue) we hope perhaps to set the record straight once and for all. Firstly, towards the end of European production of saloon Beetles the only types produced were 1200, 1200 L, 1200 S and 1200 LS. The first two having 1200 engines and the other two having 1600 engines. Of these only the 1200 L (L denoting extra trim) was available in the UK.

Once the intention to stop production was known, Volkswagen (GB) Ltd made a last gesture - they imported 600 1978 model 1200 Ls and distributed them so British dealers. About half of these Beetles were in the normal 1978 model range paintwork - Alpine White, Miami Blue, Mars Red or Riyad Yellow - the rest were in special Diamond Silver Metallic paintwork.

It was these Diamond Silver Beetles that were fitted with plaques on the dashboard to which Ken Ratcliffe and F.M. Wall refer. These plaques stated that the car was a 'Last Edition' Beetle and were consecutively numbered. All of this last batch of 600 were sold as 'Last Edition' Beetles.

The cars were presented in dealers show-rooms against large black, yellow and white banners.

Now, where most people seem to be getting a little confused is over dates of registration, but this has no bearing on the age of your 'Last Edition' Beetle because they are all about as young be it 'S' 'T' or 'V' registration. Some just have less mileage on the clock !

As readers are probably aware, VW model years start after the works holiday in August of the preceeding year i.e. 1978 models were produced from August 1977 onwards. Our own 'Last Edition' Beetle, chassis number 1182001585 was first registered on January 14 1978 but, far more important, actually manufactured by Volkswagenwerk's plant at Emden on August 24 1977. It is reasonable to assume that the other UK-bound 1200 Ls were produced at around this time. Indeed production was due to finish completely in mid-December 1977, but a last minute extra order from Japan meant that production continued until January 19 1978.

Incidentally, other readers may also be interested to know that South African production (also right-hand drive) of Beetles has now sadly ceased. The last Beetle to roll off Volkswagen of South Africa's production line at their Uitenhage factory happened exactly one year after cessation of European production, on Jan 18 1979.

This last South African Beetle was a Metallic Copper 1600 L (equivalent to a European 1303 LS) and proudly bore a plaque engraved with the words 'The Legend Lives On.' Even on the fateful day when Beetle production stops in Brazil and Mexico, many of us will still have the enthusiasm and dedication to continue driving towards the sunset in a funny little air-cooled miracle!
Beverley and Stephen Hardy, Worthing, West Sussex.

Mr. J. Miller (Jan/Feb issue) claims he owns one of the last Beetles to be registered in Britain. I am the proud owner of a 'T' reg 1200 Beetle (Metallic Silver) registered in August '78. This is my third Beetle and I think once a Beetle lover you are always one. I have had various makes of cars in between but no way could I get used to them (including two VW Golfs).

When we decided to try and get a new Beetle little did we realise how hard a task it would be, but thanks to Safer Motoring we managed to locate one at the VW agency of Peter Spellman, at Berwick-on-Tweed. The car hardly goes out without being admired and leaves many an onlooker scratching his head. We had the choice of three so I do know that somewhere, somebody is sporting the letter 'T' on a white and a blue 1200 Beetle.

I'm just hoping no other reader turns up with a later registration number than mine! I think perhaps in years to come these last models may become collectors' pieces but in the meantime I'm looking forward to many more troublefree miles of happy VW motoring.
J Widdop, Lightcliffe, Halifax.

I was interested to read the letter from Richard A. Geppings (April issue) about the possibility of publishing a register of Last Edition Beetles, a very good idea, especially as many of them have been bought by enthusiasts. Details of my own car: Reg. No. EMS 212S; Plaque No: 91; Chassis No: 1182007249; Engine No: D1417330; Supplied by: Blackadder Motor Co., Falkirk; First registered: January 1978.
Jim McLachlan, Bainsford, Falkirk.

From Safer Motoring, April 1981
Some time before Christmas 1980 a fellow-member of Leicestershire & Warwickshire Volkswagen Owners' Club told me of an advertisement in the Sunday Times for a 'brand-new' Last Edition Beetle. I telephoned the owner, who lived in Epping, and he explained that the car was in fact a 1977 model which had never been registered for road use. Although he said he was involved in the motor trade - 10 years with a VW agency - the car was his own, bought by him as an investment, an investment he then wanted to realise.

He was, after some haggling, prepared to offer me a reasonable price for my 1978 Golf L, so I then agreed to buy the Beetle, joining my 1973 metallic blue 1303 and 1955 black oval rear window Beetles (the latter is at present undergoing restoration).

Although not one of the last 300 eligible for a commemorative plaque, it was in fact one of the last 650 to be imported into Britain and one of only 350 finished in Diamond Silver Metallic - to celebrate 25 years of VWs imported into Britain. I am not in a position to keep this car unregistered - it was needed as everyday transport, so it had to be registered and an MoT test was needed, at a mileage of 128. The registration number allocated was VVV 734W.

The car will, hopefully, be on display at Stanford Park in May and VW Action in August.

Incidentally, when I collected the car, the owner told me that he had been offered another unregistered Beetle for which the owner wanted £5,000 !
R.D.V. Cross, Welford, Northants.

Reproduced by kind permission of the Editor, VW Motoring

                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Safer Motoring 1978 - 1981

Early articles

Various items, including the protracted 'Who's got the last Beetle ?' debate