1978 Last Edition

Country and/or Category: [ Landmark Edition ], UK | VIN range: not known | S-code(s): not known |
Extras/Options M-code(s): not known


Paint and Upholstery: 

L97A  (Z9) Diamantsilber-metallic  /  Marine (cloth) (09)

Technical Data: 

1200cc typ. 112 unbadged

Factory Fitted Optional Equipment:

(the model was a standard 1978 UK specification 1200 L)

Context: 

 A UK celebration Edition which, sadly, ended up the subject of confusion thanks to uncoordinated marketing and sales promotion initiatives.

The importer VW(GB)Ltd., published a magazine advertisement “Going, going…” concurrent with the close of the 1977 model year that reinforced the already well understood fact that European production of the Beetle saloon was scheduled to cease and stocks of the last examples to be sold in the UK were being delivered to dealerships.

The dealerships were issued with black and yellow promotional material comprising of display boards and banners.

The display boards carried the text

 “ This is one of the last gallant 600 in Britain. First created over 40 years ago, the Beetle has become a legend in the history of the motor car. Loveable and ever reliable, the Beetle is a breed apart. Your very last chance to buy a part of motoring history. The Last Edition.”

In keeping with normal practice the range of  standard model paint and trim options was restricted for UK importations. From the extensive range of colours that the 1978 model 1200 was available in for Germany only five were imported: Alpine White, Miami Blue, Mars Red, Riyad Yellow and Diamond Silver.  

It appears that the planned intention was that the 300 Diamond Silver examples were to be the actual “Last Edition” models and celebrated as such with special display plaques announcing that fact complete with a sequential serial number.

In reality many of the 340 cars in solid colour paintwork from that last importation batch of 640 (not 600 as initially advertised) were displayed in dealer showrooms in the winter of 1977 under the “Last Edition” banners with purchasers sincerely believing that they were buying one of the Edition stock.

The confusion was compounded by the fact that distribution of the special plaques become disconnected from, and sent out later than, distribution of some of the 300 cars finished in Diamond Silver. Disappointingly some of 300 cars intended to have plaques were never received them and worse still examples of cars not intended to have them were fitted with them – including a documented case of a 1303 Cabriolet.

Contemporary rumour at the time also suggested that importation and distribution of this last batch of 640 cars was disrupted by a heavy weather North Sea crossing from Emden which necessitated some appropriate bodywork rectification to some cars prior to dispersal throughout the UK.

Another contemporary rumour circulating at the time was that the Diamond Silver cars were initially ordered with the intention of them being celebratory of the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne but which then became transposed to being celebratory of the last importation in view of timescale lags and the immanence of the cessation of production at Emden.

A few examples of where a Diamond Silver car displayed with the :”Last Edition” promotional showroom material and matched up to its plaque did exist in the winter of 1977/78. One such occasion is recorded on the highly recommended resource of the Last Edition Beetle Register website.

The final official importation batch of 640 Beetles into the UK  were produced by Volkswagen AG at Emden (Germany) where production was due to finish completely in mid-December 1977, but a last minute extra order from Japan meant that production continued until 19th January 1978.  Of these 640 cars the 300 Diamond Silver cars are now retrospectively regarded as the “Last Edition” models.

Sales Literature:

Non produced .although the importer VW(GB)Ltd., produced a magazine advert and the showroom display material described above.

See also Glory Beetle.

Last Edition web site


This page last modified: 2020-01-21