Number 91  (September 1997)

Over the years we've received a number of phone calls at the office from people telling us they have a very rare or a special edition Beetle or they've been told it's one of the last ones made and could we confirm this. Sometimes people have been given the wrong information, other times their cars are indeed one of the so-called Last Edition Beetles. So, to clear up the confusion once and for all, here is the story of these special Beetles courtesy of Jim McLachlan, the owner of this particularly fine example.

In the autumn of '77, Volkswagen made the momentously bad decision to stop European production of the Beetle. As a result, Volkswagen UK chose to mark the occasion by ordering 300 of its quota of '78 model Beetles in Diamond Silver Metallic, this being a colour not previously available on a UK Beetle, It then distributed them in very small numbers among each of the various UK-based dealerships.

Although these Silver Beetles are the ones most commonly referred to as Last Edition Beetles, in fact, all of the Bugs imported into the UK that year were called Last Edition models. The silver Beetles were all 1200L specification, the L referring to luxury, which in typical VW speak meant that the cars came equipped with cloth upholstery - in this case, blue cloth over a darker blue vinyl, a padded dashboard and a handbrake warning light. Real time luxury. huh?

As with the majority of other special edition Beetles - and there were quite a few in the latter years of production as VW attempted to boost its flagging sales figures - the various special badges were supplied as a dealer fitment and, because of this, a few escaped without having them fixed on. On the 300 silver models this took the form of a dash plaque which read: 'Last Edition Beetle. This is one of the last 300 Volkswagen Beetles to be produced for the United Kingdom.' This was followed by an authentication number, If your Beetle is, or was, silver and is on an 'S' plate then the chances are it's one of these 300.

Jim McLachlan purchased his Last Edition Beetle - number 91. chassis number 118 2007249 - from the fantastically named Blackadder Motor Company in Falkirk, Scotland on 18th November 1977. It had been manufactured in Volkswagen's Emden factory on 6th September and exported to Britain on 8th September. The car was then registered and delivered to Jim on the very first day of 1978. The vehicle was used as a daily driver until the summer of '79 when he decided that, to keep the vehicle in pristine condition, it would not be possible to keep using it as an everyday car. As a result, he bought himself a 1970 1500cc Cabriolet for daily use and put the 1200 away for occasional rides. It's by no means unused though as the current odometer reading of 36,000 miles goes to prove. This mileage has included a number of trips to Germany, including in 1981 attending Otto Weymanns VW Treffen at Fuldatal. in 1991 the legendary Lotterman VW treffen at Bad Camberg and a trip to Berlin that took them through Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria and across the famous, and testing. Grossglockner pass.

In addition, Jim has taken the car on visits to: the VW factories at Wolfsburg and Emden: the Karmann factory at Osnabruck: the Porsche factory at Stuttgart, twice: the Tatra factory at Koprivnice: the Wolfsburg museum: the Helmut Pfeifhofer Porsche museum at Gmund: the Porsche villa: and the Neoplan bus factory. That's not bad going by anybody's standards.

As well as these various European missions, Jim has been to all 18 of the Scottish VW Owners festivals, several VW Actions, Stanford Halls. Tatton Parks and numerous more generic classic car events such as: the Festival of Wheels in Glasgow, the Knockhill Classic Vehicle Rally, the Popular Classics Roadshow, the Edinburgh Classic Motoring Event and the Doune Classic. It may not be a daily driver but, as you can see, this is not one of those cosseted cars that never see the light of day. Jim still enjoys it to the full but for specific journeys rather than the tedious back and forth from work routine.

The Beetle has been kept almost exactly as it came from Slackbladders, I mean Blackadders, with the only exceptions to this being a new set of radial tyres to replace the original crossplies, a new battery and a new exhaust which were replaced as a matter of course. The head rests, mud flaps, wheel trims and stone guards were all fitted from new and thats exactly as Jim plans to keep them. He's made a few small additions to the car himself, including a Beetle Bouncer stone shield on the front bumper to protect the paintwork on the bonnet, a pair of jacking point covers which double as hub-cap pullers and a couple of decals and badges at the back. The VW Audi service sticker at the bottom of the rear window that reads. 'Mines kept the way it was built, Is yours?' sums up Jim's attitude to the car perfectly.

If you want to know more about the Last Edition Beetles, or if you think you have one and want to confirm it. then why not contact Mrs Wendy Flynn of the Last Edition register on phone number and address deleted. The register reckons they have the details of about half of the original 300 cars on their lists, which is pretty good going considering even these are now almost 20 years old. Also, they put together some impressive line-ups of silver Last Editions at Tatton Park in both '93 and '95 and at Stanford Hall this year. In the sunshine, the Diamond Silver Metallic paint looks fantastic, and none more so than Jim's magnificent number 91.

VolksWorld September 1997

Number 91

Three hundred silver Last Edition Beetles were imported into the UK towards the end of 1977 and this is number 91, belonging to Jim McLachlan from Falkirk. Words:Mike Pye. Pics: Mike Key.