1979 Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet by Karmann ***Affordable German Classic***


Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale a genuine 1979 Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet by Karmann.

It is understood that this was originally an American market car sold new in California. It was imported into Australia in 1997. There is an import approval on file dated 30th May 1997.

It is further understood the person who imported the car lived on the Gold Coast and purchased it as a gift for his wife. In his ownership the car was converted from left hand drive to right hand drive and it was repainted from red to yellow, the colour the car still carries today. He also fitted more modern seats, which are understood to be from a Subaru, to improve driver and passenger comfort. There are two Queensland compliance plates fitted – one for the conversion and the other for the seats.

Unfortunately, the new owner’s found the car difficult to drive and they subsequently decided to sell. Interestingly, it turned out the car had a problem with the clutch and the accelerator linkage. The car was advertised in the Gold Coast Bulletin and there was immediate interest. The first person who came to inspect the car bought it on the spot.

So the story goes, this owner soon become frustrated with the car as he also found it difficult to drive. One of his good friends is a very well respected classic car mechanic and enthusiast. He mentioned his frustration with the car to him and said he was going to sell it. His good friend, who is the current owner, loves Volkswagen Beetles and decided to buy the car and sort it out.

That is how the current owner ended up with the car approximately 20 years ago. After some fettling he was able to sort the car and he quickly turned it into an absolute delight to drive.

He enjoyed using the car for a few years and in that period he did all the maintenance himself. Over time the engine started to develop a few minor oil leaks and in 2015 the owner decided it was time to rebuild the engine and the gearbox. The engine was disassembled and rebuilt using genuine original parts. He also fitted a big valve cylinder head from a later model car. The gearbox was also disassembled and rebuilt. Around the same time the braking system was completely overhauled and new shock absorbers were installed.

The car has travelled approximately 3,000 miles since all this work was completed.

This Volkswagen Beetle definitely attracts attention where ever it goes. First of all, it is yellow, very yellow and therefore it definitely stands out. Personally, we think the colour really suits the car. It is a vibrant and a very happy colour. Whether you are driving the car or just looking at it, you can’t help but smile, which is what this car is all about.

This is a car that has been used and enjoyed by its current owner. But, he is very particular with his cars and this Volkswagen Beetle has been very well maintained and lovingly cared for. Generally speaking, the paint on the car is still in very good condition and it has retained a deep gloss and a strong depth of colour. If you look closely you will notice the odd defect and stone chip. The most noticeably paint defect is a little crack in the paint on the bonnet. The chrome work on the car is all in good condition and the same can be said for all the lights and the lenses. The glass is in equally good condition. The soft top on the car appears to have rarely been used and therefore not affected by the harsh Queensland sun. It is in good condition. The soft tops on a Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet are of very good quality and fit very well. They make the car a very usable car all year around, rain or shine.

An interesting detail is that the steel wheels are painted yellow and with the VW hub caps fitted, that creates a nice feature which matches the rest of the car. Both are in good condition. The wheels are shod with Kumho Power Star 758 165/80R15 tyres at the front (date stamped 0114 – week 01, 2014) and Kenda Kinetica 165/80R15 tyres at the rear (date stamped 2413 – week 24, 2013).

Under the bonnet everything is clean and tidy. The original floor cover for the spare wheel is still in place and in very good condition. At the back, the engine bay is also clean and tidy.

Open the door and you are welcomed by a very good looking interior. The first thing you will probably notice are the aftermarket seats, which are in excellent condition with no rips or tears. They are very comfortable and provide ample support. The second thing you’ll probably notice are the floor mats with the daisies on them. These would look out of place in most classic cars, but not in this Beetle. In fact, it looks like they really belong in this car! The rear seats appear to have hardly been used and are also in excellent condition. We do like the black upholstery with the yellow piping on the seats. The piping is subtle and ties in the interior and exterior perfectly. The dashboard, steering wheel and the instruments are in very good condition and present well. Everything appears to be in good working order and even the clock works! The car is fitted with an aftermarket Pioneer CD player / radio.

Now that we have familiarised ourselves with the interior, we can’t wait to take this car out for a short test drive. The current owner is a retired Mercedes-Benz Service Manager and we know he maintains his cars to a very high standard. Therefore our expectations were high and on our test drive we were not disappointed. The car drives superbly and does everything with aplomb. Out on the open road everything is exactly how you want it to be. The 1,585cc fuel injected engine provides enough power to engage the driver and on this car the engine revs freely, the gear changes are easy and smooth both up and down the box, the car handles well and importantly the brakes stop the car efficiently and in a straight line. Did we tell you . . . driving this Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet just makes you smile. We would also love a dollar for every wave and thumbs up we got on our short test drive!

The current owner is downsizing his collection and whilst he has always enjoyed owning and driving this car, he has made the difficult decision that it is time to sell.

Accompanying the car is an owner’s manual, spare wheel, jack, and a wheel brace.

This Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet is ready for its next owner to use and enjoy. It is the perfect car for a Sunday drive, a visit to your favourite local café for lunch or a cars and coffee. The Volkswagen car clubs are very active in Australia and they would certainly welcome this car with open arms.

The Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet by Karmann is both stylish and surprisingly practical. We think it offers fantastic value for money.


  • Very well presented original VW Beetle Cabriolet by Karmann.
  • Great colour scheme.
  • Mechanically very well sorted.
  • Excellent value for money.
  • Ready to use and enjoy.

Price $39,950.



In the early 1930s cars were a luxury. Most Germans could afford nothing more elaborate than a motorcycle. Only one German out of 50 owned a car. Seeking a potential new market, some car makers began independent “people’s car” projects, such as the Mercedes 170H, Adler Autobahn, Steyr 55, and Hanomag 1.3L.

The trend was not new.  Béla Barényi, an Austro-Hungarian engineer is credited with having conceived the first basic design in the mid-1920s. In Germany, Hanomag produced the 2/10PS “Kommisbrot” a small, cheap, rear-engined car from 1925 – 1928 and Czechoslovakia produced the popular Tatra 7. Ferdinand Porsche had been trying for years to get a manufacturer interested in a small car suitable for a family. He built a car named the “Volksauto” from the ground up in 1933, using many popular ideas and several of his own. Key features of the car were an air-cooled rear engine, torsion bar suspension, and a “beetle” shape with the front hood rounded for better aerodynamics (necessary as it had a small engine).

In 1934 Adolf Hitler became involved. He ordered the production of a basic vehicle which needed to be able to transport 2 adults and 3 children at 100km/h. He wanted all Germans to have access to a car. The “people’s car” would be available at 990 Reichsmark. A special savings plan was introduced. A person could save 5 Reichsmark a week to realise their dream of owning their own car. Over 300,000 people participated in this savings plan, however, the whole project was financially unsound. No private industry was able to meet the requirements and produce a car which could be sold for 990 Reichsmark.

On the 28th May 1937  the “Gesellschaft zur Vorbereitung des Deutschen Volkswagens GmbH“ (Company for the Preparation of the German Volkswagen Ltd) was formally established by the German Labour Front and in 1938 the first prototypes of the “KdF-Wagen” (Kraft durch Freude) started to appear. On 16th September 1938 the company was renamed to Volkswagenwerk GmbH and the company built its main plant in KdF-Stadt which later became Wolfsburg.

The outbreak of the Second World War and integration into the arms industry prevented mass production of the Volkswagen “people’s car”. Instead, military vehicles and other armaments were produced using forced labour.

In April 1945, KdF-Stadt and its heavily bombed factory were captured by the Americans, and subsequently handed over to the British, within whose occupation zone the town and factory fell. The factories were placed under the control of Saddleworth born British Army officer Major Ivan Hirst, by then a civilian Military Governor with the occupying forces.

One of the factory’s wartime “KdF-Wagen” cars had been taken to the factory for repairs and abandoned there. Hirst had it repainted green and demonstrated it to British Army headquarters. Short of light transport, in September 1945, the British Army was persuaded to place a vital order for 20,000 cars. The rest as they say is history. The Volkswagen or VW Beetle was born.

Around 1948 Volkswagen was looking at extending their model range. They asked coachbuilder Karmann to build a 4 seat convertible and another coachbuilder, Hebmüller, to build a 2 seat convertible. Both had to be based on the current Beetle and use as many Volkswagen parts as possible. This wasn’t a simple task because removing the roof caused severe chassis flexing. As a result the body and chassis had to be strengthened. Production of the convertibles started in 1949. The Hebmüller Cabriolet was only in production from 1949 through to 1953 and only 696 were built including the 3 prototypes and one pre-production model. The Karmann Cabriolet was built from 1949 through to 1980. During that period 328,697 were built.


  • $39,950
  • Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet by Karmann
  • 1979
  • Convertible
  • Manual
  • 2,982 miles
  • 1,585cc

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