Volkswagen Sales literature for each successive year’s model ranges manufactured in Europe were, by the late 60‘s, comprehensive, informative and very well illustrated with whole vehicle and detail photographs. They were printed (generally) in Germany from graphics layouts produced with admirable consistency under careful factory control.
Variations of each brochure were produced for the West German home market and most export markets. In predictable Volkswagen thoroughness they carried, on their rear covers, a VW reference number and publication date. The final two numbers of the reference number denoted the market to which the brochure applied.
For example 00 for the West German home market, 25 for the UK and 29 an english language version of the German brochure to assist sales to (amongst others) service personnel serving in Germany.
The variations in the different issues were however far more than just language: they were a careful cataloguing of the models, equipment specifications and paint/interior /cabrio hood options available for purchase/order in the market for which the brochure was produced for. For example it is very evident when comparing the versions of the same brochure from the German or Dutch markets and the UK market how much more restricted the model ranges – and often colour combinations – were in the UK compared with the other two markets.
This is relevant to SEBs for two reasons:
Firstly these brochures give us a fairly good set of base information for each model year for each market.
Secondly by contrast to this cataloguing of standard production models the SEBs from the 1970 – 1979 were often marketed without brochures – or at best locally produced sales literature. This lack of an essential, definitive information source frustrates the accurate cataloguing of SEB production history.
We have to rely on what little literature is available, other known, credible, published information and photographic evidence. This then supported with recollections from enthusiasts who were around at the time these SEBs were to be found on dealers forecourts. Great care has to be taken when drawing information about specifications from cars that survive today: the only ones that can reliably be used as are the very few that have a known provenance traceable through a short number of owners since new.
A notable exception to all this is the North American market. Throughout the 1970-79 period German produced sales literature was not used in the US and Canadian markets. Instead locally produced literature was distributed to dealers. By comparison with the European brochures the North American market brochures showed less consistency and accuracy of detail – but are nevertheless an important source of reference.
Perhaps surprisingly though literature for the US and Canadian SEB’s bucks this trend and, for several ‘Editions, provide a very valuable definitive source of reference.
This divide between European and North American published sales brochures highlights another significant issue relevant to the cataloguing of SEB production history.
It highlights how various Beetle models were referred to by sales description, model badging and (often significant) variation in standard equipment between the two Continents.
At a very fundamental level these differences of how Beetles are referred to and understood has fuelled misunderstanding and misrepresentation on social media – and raised some hinderances to the otherwise helpful access owners have to worldwide access to parts and spares through international internet shopping.
We hope that the two tables of information given above help ease this situation for owners and enthusiasts.
We also hope very much that this website therefore is more than a substitute for the brochures that were never produced and further supplements information on models that were fortunate enough to have publicity material published for them.