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1974 Sun Bug

Country and/or Category: Canada, USA | VIN range: 114 2423 796 - 114 2999 000 | S-code(s): S736 |
Extras/Options M-code(s): M444, M560, M108, M110

Paint and Upholstery: L98C (U5, W4) Hellas-metallic / 41U Nussbraun or 47T (68) Mocca leatherette L99B (** )Harvestgold-metallic / 41U Nussbraun (the use of these two paint colours is a complex one and discussed in detail in the Context section below).

Technical Data: 1600cc typ.117 (“Standard Beetle”) badged “Volkswagen”. 1600cc typ.1303: 133 (“Super Beetle”) badged “Volkswagen”. 1600cc typ. 153 (“Super Beetle”) badged “Volkswagen”.

Factory Fitted Optional Equipment:

typ.117 version:

47T (68) Mocca leatherette , inertia reel seat belts, vinyl padded Petri AG steering wheel with alu-silver trim detailing, M 444 5½J x15 (ET34) (Lemmerz “GT”) sports wheels , M560 Steel sliding roof and North American conformity package options M108, M110.

typ.1303:133 versio

Special velvet cord faced upholstery 41U Nussbraun (43U Braun) loop pile carpeting, inertia reel seat belts, wood veneer dashboard trim, vinyl padded Petri AG steering wheel with alu-silver trim detailing, M 444 5½J x15 (ET34) (Lemmerz “GT”) sports wheels , M560 Steel sliding roof and North American conformity package options M108 and M110 on the typ.117 version.

The Sun Bug was one of the Lux trimmed group of SEBs.

Importer/Dealer Fitted Optional Equipment: Sun Bug gearshift knob, side stripes and engine lid badge. Tunnel tray console.

Some Sun Bugs appear to have been fitted with wheels finished in gold colour to match the vehicle bodywork paint. Given that all the other Sports wheels fitted to SEBs were in standard factory chrome silver paint it seems likely the gold finish was applied ex-factory either by the importers of by dealerships.

Ex-factory quality control has led to issues surrounding the authenticity of some Sun Bugs. Statistically highly probable is the fact that some cars never received these post factory additional details whilst, conversely, some standard model cars may well have done. The authentication of Sun Bugs therefore lies with their factory manufactured finishes and fittings.

Context: The Sun Bug appears in VW listings as the S736 Sonderaktion *Sonnenkäfer* models but only as the 1303: 133 and 135 (logically on account of the steel sunroof and cabriolet being part of the Edition package) and was marketed in to both Canada and the USA.

It was promoted by magazine advertising and brochures published in North American.

The typ.117 and 1303:133 versions were produced by Volkswagen AG at Emden(Germany) and the typ.153 version at Wilhelm Karmann GmbH at Osnabrück (Germany).

Given that, in common with other SEBs for the North American market, the Sun Bugs were well documented from the point of sales literature it is perhaps surprising that there appears to be some lack of clarity and some uncertainty still about the production details of them.

The Volkswagen “S” list (“Sonderverkaufsaktion” or “Sonderaktion” meaning , literally, “Special sales deal” and “Promotions” respectively) includes the Sun Bug Sales Campaign as S 736: Sonderaktion *Sonnenkäfer* for the USA and Canada. As that list however specifically refers to the 1303:133 and 153 models only it is not clear what the “S” designation of the 117 model was.

There is a further twist that clouds the authentication of genuine Sun Bugs and that is a fundamental one: the paint colour. It was originally understood that all Sun Bugs were painted Hellas-metallic. A colour spanning the three Volkswagen model years 1973-75 as L98C.

However cars that can be authenticated as genuine Sun Bugs also exist painted in L99B. Some paint manufactures list this also as Hellas metallic whilst others list it as Harvest Gold. In both case it appears to be a 1974 only paint shade.

Verification of the later has also been found by way of an example of the factory paint code label fixed to a Sun Bug during manufacture bearing the text “L99B Harvestgold.”

Reference back to German home market (“inland”) sales brochures for the 1974 model year brochure shows that Hellas metallic (production/brochure codeW4) was a standard model range paint colour for both the 1300 (flat screen, torsion bar) and 1303 (curved screen, McPherson strut) Beetles. And was combined with Mocca (Mocha) interior trim in both needlecord and leatherette (production/brochure codes 04 and 68 respectively). Hellas was not a standard model range colour however for the 1303 Cabriolet. The standard paint colour range for North America in 1974 however comprised of bright solid colours only. Adding these facts together Hellas was a special paint finish for North American bound Beetle Saloons (Sedans) and a totally special paint finish for the Cabrio.

The standard paint colour range for North America in 1974 however comprised of bright solid colours only. Adding these facts together Hellas was a special paint finish for North American bound Beetle Saloons (Sedans) and a totally special paint finish for the Cabrio.

sunbig

Anecdotal evidence exists about the poor durability record of some L98C production batches combined with supported conjecture about the use of L99B as a replacement. What is not certain at the present time is which of the three Volkswagen model types used for the Sun Bug Campaign were painted in L98C and which were painted in L99C – and in both cases during what periods. Evidence suggests that the permutation may have been L98C Hellas on the Karmann produced typ.153 Super Beetle convertibles and on the typ. 117 torsion bar Beetle sedans with L99B Harvestgold only on typ.135 McPherson strut Super Beetle sedans. At the current time however more evidence is needed to prove (or disprove) this conjecture.

One way of deciphering this conundrum on other SEB Editions has been to analyse the codes given on the vehicles “production plate”. The brochure code W4 should appear for Hellas L98C or anther code for L99B. Yet again though research in this respect on the Sun Bugs has been thwarted by production plates appearing to have become obsolete on at least the 1303 (Super) Beetle by the time the Edition went into production. This raises yet another question in that we still seek evidence from the typ.117 flat screen Sun Bug as to whether they were still being issued with production plates and if so what paint code was stamped into them. Examples exist of Cabrio Sun Bugs being marked with paint colour information in a way unique to production practices in the Karmann plant – that of hand writing the information on a “hidden” painted panel. Examples of this practice have been seen not only on Beetles but also contemporary Karmann Ghias and 914s. Hellas-metallic L98C is also sometimes referred to as Sun Gold Light Metallic.

Hellas-metallic/Harvestgold L99B is also sometimes referred to as Sun Gold Metallic. Given the degree of uncertainty over the issue of Sun Bug paint colours Tables P-E.1 – P-E.7 “Articles” / SEB Production/ Paint Tables have been laid out so as to be as helpful as possible within the constraints of the ongoing research as to which of the two colours were used on which of the three body versions that the Sun Bugs were produced in. Possibly the only resolution to this conundrum is through having the evidence of Volkswagen Birth Certificates for all three model Sun Bugs.

Evidence of Sun Bug paint colours:


Karmann Emden Emden
karmann-hellas emden-hellas emden-harvest
Example of production record applied in the Karmann factory to Sun Bug Cabriolets (with thanks to Charlie White). Emden factory applied paint sticker to Sun Bug Saloons/Sedans – in this case the more common L98C Hellas Metallic. Emden factory applied paint sticker to Sun Bug Saloons/Sedans – the elusive L99B also listed as Hellas and as proved here alternatively called Harvest Gold (with thanks to Justin Wilt).

Further reading on this website:

“Retrospectively Speaking” editorial column RS 002. A dedicated Facebook Group for the Edition is active under the name of “VW Sun Bug Owners”


This page last modified: 2019-10-06