1974 Big Beetle

Country and/or Category: Europe, Käfer der Kaufer Edition | VIN range: 134 2000 001 - 134 2356 316 | S-code(s): S763, W12 |
Extras/Options M-code(s): Z05 ((M032, M047, M094, M102, M162, M206) ), M014, M034, M042, M046, M060, M132, M184, M227, M248, M288, M444, M551, M560, M616. M***

Paint and Upholstery:

L95C (Y6) Moosgrün-metallic / 17T (32) Bambus
L95M (U6 ) Ontario-metallic / 56U (33) Dunkelblau
L98C (W4) Hellas-metallic / 41U (31) Nussbraun

(Ontario-metallic was a unique SEB paint colour whilst Moosgrün-metallic and Hellas- metallic were standard 1974 model year paint colours for the 1303 range on the German “inland” and some other “export” markets.)
Accent to the paintwork was provided by a satin black rallye stripe to the lower body sides. In the West German home market (“inland”) and some “export” markets this side stripe carried the lettering “1303 / Big” whilst in other “export” markets, notably the UK, the rallye stripe was plain black without lettering (133 092 523)

The Big Beetle was the only SEB ever fitted with 5½J x15 (ET34) (Lemmerz “GT”) sports wheels the previous year’s Rallye SEBs having ones with an offset of ET26.

Technical Data:
1200cc typ. 133 unbadged
1300cc typ. 133 badged “Volkswagen”
1300cc typ. 133 badged “VW 1303”
1600cc typ. 135 “VW 1303 S”
1600cc typ. 136 “VW 1303 S”

Factory Fitted Optional Equipment:

Special velvet cord faced upholstery and loop pile carpeting (58T Blau, 43U Braun and 84U Beige) and door trim (56U Dunkelblau, 17T Bambus and 41U Nussbraun) coordinated to the paint colour,  wood veneer dashboard trim, vinyl padded Petri AG steering wheel with alu-silver trim detailing, special wooden gearshift knob,
M 094 engine hood lock
M 184 Automatic seat belts
M444 5½J x15 (ET34) (Lemmerz “GT”) sports wheels with 175/70 tires matched to 50bhp engines,
M976 4½J x15 (ET41) (Lemmerz “GT”) sports wheels matched to 34bhp engines, and in most markets, although not the UK M pack Z06.
M pack Z 05 comprising of:
M 032 Lockable fuel filler cap
M 047 Twin reversing lights
M 094 Engine hood lock
M 102 Heated Rear Window
M 162 Rubber Bumper Trims
M 206 Rear view mirror, inner, anti-dazzle

As one of the Lux trimmed group of SEBs the Big Beetle was also one of the most extensively equipped Editions with a range of specification variations depending on recipient markets.

Quite a few were produced with high-back seats notably for Scandinavian markets and some also appear to have been factory fitted with opening rear side windows. This meant that a large variation of other M options over and above the basic Big Beetle package were factory fitted according to the market the cars were sold in.

These included:
M 014 “Volkswagen” badging on engine lid
M 034 Parking lamp warning light, side-mounted flashing indicators and rear reflector
M 042 Sealed tyres for Export markets
M 046 Side mounted indicators
M 060 Eberspächer stationary heater
M 132 Unknown: possibly the special upholstery
M 227 Higher front seat backrest (head restraints)
M 248 Ignition starter switch without steering lock
M 288 Headlight washers
M 551 Halogen headlights M 560 Steel sliding roof
M 616 Back-up light in the brake/indicator light
M *** Opening rear side windows


S763 Sonderaktion *Big-Bug* was one of three models in the “Käfer der Käufer” Edition presented at IAA’73 (Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung), Frankfurt in September 1973.

The prototype naming was changed to The Big Beetle for series production.

Although the standard Big Beetle Edition was clearly based on the 50bhp “1600cc” 1303 S some were produced as 1303 models with lower powered engines. In Italy for example they were sold with 1200 and 1300 cc engines, the latter having twin Weber carburettors.

At the 1973 Frankfurt Motor Show launch the Big Beetle was priced at DM 7670 just DM450 more than the standard German market 1303S on which it was based.

Introduced to the UK at the 1973 Earls Court (London) Motor Show the Big Beetle was priced, at £1,260-00, only £34-00 more expensive than the standard 1303S. Significantly though, from a buyers point of view, it provided an immediate purchase opportunity to get a 1303 with the 1600cc engine because the 1303S was only available to special order in the UK for the 1974 model year which entailed a three month delivery period. Contemporary press reports record an importation of 1,800 examples by VW(GB) Ltd.,although these UK bound Big Beetles arrived with a slightly less well equipped specification than the “inland” and “export” markets in mainland Europe – a fact recorded on sales brochures for the UK that came with an Erratum sticker declaring “Not so Big”. Reports in the VW press at the time also mention that VW(GB) considered naming the Big as the ‘GTC’ following the success of the 1300S ‘GT Beetle’.

The Big Beetle was produced by Volkswagen AG at Wolfsburg (Germany) and Volkswagen Brussels (formerly D’leteren) Belgium.

Not more of the same:
It was widely believed, certainly in the UK, that there was a second importation of Big Beetles towards the latter half of the 1974 model year in L95C (Y6) Moosgrün-metallic and L97A ( Z4, Z9) Diamantsilber-metallic with 4½Jx15 rather than the 5½J x15. Lemmerz “GT” sports wheels and a standard plastic gear shift knob. Because they had the same plain rallye stripe on the lower body side as the Big Beetle however it seems nobody particularly noticed the minor differences in specification and for 40 years they were assumed to be just just “more of the same”. In reality these were S 729 *Luxus- Käfer* Editions.

A further twist in this long saga of misunderstanding is that Denmark and Norway received deliveries of Diamantsilber S729 *Luxus-Käfer* with rallye side stripes incorporating the 1303/Big script.

Sales Literature:

A large format, newspaper style, brochure with colour photos produced in two layout versions. The first illustrating the Jeans & Big Beetle and the second illustrating the Jeans, City & Big Beetle.

Further reading on this website:
Introduction to the “Käfer der Käufer” Group of Editions. The individual profile for The Luxury Beetles.
“Retrospectively Speaking” editorial columns RS 002 and RS 003

Big Beetle website Big Beetle Register websites.

UK Big Beetle pictures courtesy Stephen Paul Hardy. Belgian brochure courtesy Jean-Marie Verhulst.

This page last modified: 2024-04-13