1976 Limited Edition for USA / Bicentennial

Country and/or Category: USA | VIN range: 156 2078 287 - 156 2200 000 | S-code(s): S739 |
Extras/Options M-code(s): not known

Paint and Upholstery: 

L80E Hellelfenbein/Light Ivory (11) / Light Sand (V3) cabriolet hood/ Opal White (53) upholstery (square weave pattern). 

This combination of paintwork, hood and upholstery colours was unique to this Edition and distinctly different from the four body standard paint colours, (each only with Anthracite upholstery and Black hood) offered on the Super Beetle convertible for the USA in the 1976 model year. The black plastic beading between the wings and the bodywork was standard on all Beetle cabriolets that year. 

Reference to the VW Parts Manual for the 1302/1303 lists two OPAL upholstery materials although it is highly likely that it is the first of the two that was used on the S 739 Edition: 

BM2 OPAL-53 8/75 – 5/76  

BZ7 OPAL-67 6/76 – 7/76 

Technical Data: 

1600cc typ.153 badged “FUEL INJECTION”. 

Factory Fitted Optional Equipment: 

In addition to the Special paint, hood and upholstery combination as one of the Lux trimmed group of SEBs it came with the 44U Rosenholz / Rosewood imitation wood veneer dashboard trim and vinyl padded Petri AG steering wheel with alu-silver trim detailing together with 

M976 4 1⁄2J x15 (ET41) (Lemmerz “GT”) sports wheels shod with 165/SR 15 steel belted radial tires (without white walls).

Edition owners manual insert.

Another distinctive feature of the S739 Edition was the use of backrests with adjustable and removable head restraints that wouldn’t become standard fitment until the following (1977) model year. A detail significant enough to see the publication of an insert into the 1976 US Beetle handbook with an illustrated explanation of how to adjust the head restraint underneath the title “Limited Edition Volkswagen Convertible”.


The S 739 *Sonderaktion für USA * was produced at Wilhelm Karmann GmbH at Osnabrück, Germany. 

It is understood US Dealerships each received just one example. However contemporary Press Reports cite a production figure of 1,000 examples whilst another source quotes the total as 1,055. Because, currently, we do not have any information about the number of Volkswagen Dealerships serving the US market in 1976 we cannot reconcile the quoted total numbers with the number of Dealerships based on a one per Dealership ratio.

Edition owners manual insert second part.

The first Press reference we had to this Edition was in a report in the “Report from America” regular feature by Bill Schwartzberg in the August 1976 issue of SAFER MOTORING Magazine with a Press photo with the following caption underneath it:

“Exclusively for the American market – a US edition of the VW convertible. Unlike standard soft top Beetles it has special ivory paint, a white interior, an off white top, steel belted radial tyres on sports rims, a four-spoke steering wheel with padded rim, and a wood grain fascia. Only 1,000 of this model will be available in America.”

Schwartzberg’s captioning must have been based on information that he gleaned at the time in addition to the released Press material.

The press photo in question was image number VW 3318 – 76 issued by Volkswagen Public Relations, Volkswagen of America, Inc. Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632 which carried the usual style note for journalists pasted to the back of the photograph which read 

“VW dealers are offering a limited edition of the classic VW convertible. Unlike regular VW soft tops, this one has special ivory paint, a white interior and an off-white top. Other goodies Include steel belted radial tires on sports rims, a four-spoke steering wheel with a padded rim and a wood grain dashboard.”

The accompanying Press release dated MAY 27, 1976 went on to elaborate:

“For 1976, the VW convertible has redesigned front seats with greater seat back rest adjustment. The interior is fully carpeted and this year the speedometer is calibrated in kilometers as well as miles per hour. The odometer records in miles. …….. Production of the VW convertible has been stepped up from 33 to 50 per day. It is sold and serviced in the U.S. by more than 1,100 Volkswagen dealerships.

While the limited edition convertible is available only with light ivory paint, standardVW convertibles come in scarlet red, sunflower yellow, fiesta orange and laguna blue”.

Deliveries of S 739 Editions to the Dealerships reportedly occurred during June 1976 coincidental with US American Revolution Bicentennial celebrations. 

The popularly assigned “Bicentennial Convertible” identity raises several questions in that we have evidence of examples in varying specifications. Because no evidence in the form of sales literature, sales campaign or dealership memo paperwork has been available to us it is not clear to us is whether or not the S 739 Edition was used officially by Volkswagen of America, Inc as the base of a Bicentennial celebration promotion. 

Variations in the presentation and details of cars described as “Bicentennial Convertible” raise questions about just what – and how much – trim detail was added and by whom. Even if the “Bicentennial” enhancements were intended to be added to all S 739 Cabriolets it appears certain that some were sold by Dealerships “as imported” and without local enhancement.

Factory to Dealership

Factory to Dealership

The photo gallery of this profile illustrates the immaculate S 739 Edition owned by Maria Mucaria Stankowski and two modified stages of variation on the Bicentennial theme. This by way of a car featuring a custom interior by original owner famous businessman James Gaylord. With the addition of a dash plaque with VW logo reading ‘1976 Limited Edition Bicentennial Convertible’ and additional instrumentation. The second owner added various period correct VW accessories including air horns and chrome wheel trims.

Champagne and Triple visual

Champagne and Triple visual/timeline.


See also Champagne Edition, Triple White, New Beetle Triple White and RS002 – The Lux’ Trim Embellished 1303 Special Edition Beetles Manufactured In Europe. 

Information and pictures courtesy Maria Mucaria Stankowski and Ron Paster

This page last modified: 2023-11-06