1972 Pop Bug

Country and/or Category: [ Landmark Edition ], Canada, Spring Edition | VIN range: not known | S-code(s): not known |
Extras/Options M-code(s): M060, M090, M113, M128, M197

Paint and Upholstery: L40M Poplila (94) / Leatherette Alabaster (52)
Technical Data: 1600cc typ.113 (1302) badged “VOLKSWAGEN”
Factory Fitted Optional Equipment: Fittings consistent with contemporary Canadian traffic regulations plus white wall tyres and on this validating example options frequently seen on Beetles exported to Canada and Scandinavia of Eberspächer stationary heater and 45 AH-battery We do not know if all cars exported to Canada in this Edition were equipped with these two cold climate options but suspect that they may well have been.

Context: Initially we thought that the Canadian Brochure titled “Things you never knew about the Beetle. (And all the other Volkswagens.)” published by Volkswagen in Canada for the 1972 model year was evidence that a Pop Edition comprising of the three Pop colour paintwork finishes was imported into Canada. Careful examination of the photographs suggests that they were not retouched for colour but of actual cars; closer examination, however, revealed retouching on the photos used on the back cover to portray 1971 model year Beetles as those of the 1972 model year.

Following that analysis and disappointment, we did then find conclusive evidence of a 1972 North American Super Beetle in Poplila on Volkswagen’s own website. It sits in the section on the Group’s History – Volkswagen Chronik. There is some very well known Volkswagen Press photographic imagery of the Model T Ford – the “Tin Lizzy” being overtaken by Beetles. Slight variations of this imagery exist and mostly they are seen as black and white photographs. The version Volkswagen use on their website however is a colour photograph. It carries a caption explaining that Volkswagen AG published an article in the 4 February 1972 edition of “Bild” under “topic of the day” foretelling the production of the 15 007 034th Beetle and it’s breaking the legendary production record of the “Tin Lizzie” T-model built from 1908 to 1927 by the Ford Motor Company with, consequently, the Beetle becoming the new world champion. (Weltmeister)

Careful examination of that colour photograph reveals that the Beetles captured in it are a mixture of European market “VW_1300” and ”VW_1302” models together with North American market Super Beetles (1302S). They can be seen to be in a range of paint colours that mark them as 1972 model year production – notably by the L51B (18) Gentian Blue. The North American specification models can easily be identified by their larger front indicators. These comprise of the two Gentian blue cars straddling the cobblestones at the lower edge of the track and two others that are sat high on the curve banking – one in L90D (06) Pastel White followed by one in L40M (94) Pop Lilac.

It is clear that the photograph was taken sometime in the winter of 1971-72 (presumably on Volkswagen’s Ehra-Lessien proving ground test track where many press images were taken) in anticipation of the Weltmeister production achievement. Until now this photographic image was the only evidence we could find of a 1972 North American specification Poplila Edition. However this small piece of contemporary archival evidence has now been supported by a surviving example coming to light.

We have recently been contacted by a family from Canada who has with our assistance now restored a genuine 1972 Poplila Beetle. The car has the provenance of a Stiftung AutoMuseum Volkswagen Birth Certificate which, although leaves the paint colour unrecorded, lists the upholstery as Leatherette Alabaster. Despite this Beetle having been repainted dark blue at some time in its life “hidden” evidence of original paintwork is irrefutably that of L40M Poplila for which the code 94 can be seen on the car’s surviving production plate.

This exciting discovery shows that a Pop Edition did exist in 1972 and was based on the Canadian specification Super Beetle (1302S). As such it extended the 1971 Pop Bug theme into the next model year. At the moment we are only able to be certain however, though this car, that the 1972 Edition included Poplila cars.

Our sincere appreciation to both Linda Frank for the photos/information and proud owner Elizabeth Parker for sharing them with us.

This page last modified: 2018-11-22