1973 Sports Bug

Country and/or Category: Canada, North America, Rallye Edition, USA | VIN range: 133 2199 639 - 133 3200 000 | S-code(s): S714 |
Extras/Options M-code(s): D010, M002, M247, M290, M617, M698

Paint and Upholstery:

L13M (67) Saturngelb/ (12) Schwarz (cloth); (coded 67 67 12)
L96M (89) Marathonblau-metallic / (12) Schwarz (cloth); (coded 89 89 12)

(Saturngelb was a Karmann palette colour not normally used on standard production Beetle saloons. Marathonblau-metallic was first used on the 1972 Champion Editions but had become a standard model range colour for the 1303 for the 1973 model year in Europe. Not so however for North America where the Sports Bug was the only model imported in the colour that year)

Accent to the paintwork was provided by all black external trim.

Technical Data:

1600cc typ.133 (“Super Beetle”) badged “Volkswagen”

Factory Fitted Optional Equipment:

Distinctive special paint finish that included paint matched finish to bumpers trim, black black exterior trim, Heated Rear Window, leather sports steering wheel by Petri AG

D010
M002 US equipement
M 102 Heated Rear Window
M247 unkown
M290 unkown
M 409 (Recaro sourced) Sports seats
M 444 5½J x 15 (ET26) (Lemmerz”GT”) sports style wheels with CONTINENTAL 175/70 HR15 T5714 or PIRELLI 175/70 HR15 CN36 1 tyres
M 550 Vented front apron
M 616 Back-up light in the brake/indicator light
M 617 unkown
M 698 unkown

The Sports Bug and it’s sister Gelbschwarzer Renner (GSR) were the only two SEBs ever fitted with 51⁄2J x15 (ET26) (Lemmerz “GT”) sports wheels. The succeeding year’s Big Beetle having ones with an offset of ET34.

Importer/Dealer Fitted Optional Equipment:

In line with intensive media promotion Dealership’s offered an array of themed optional accessories were offered and ‘loaded’ showroom display cars with them. These including: the distinctive US designed red and black ‘waist’ stripe (Part No. ZVW146120) anodised matt black trim items including vent grill trim (used to cover the grill below rear windowfor stripe continuity), four piece engine lid vent grill set, front & rear gravel guards, exhaust tail pipes and black plastic headlamp surround made for VWoA by Production Plastics of Michigan.

Sales brochures had shown the Edition with black headlamp surrounds as had the initial shipment of cars (“Dune Buggies and HotVWs” review article September/October 1973) The majority of cars however appear to have been shipped with the standard chrome surrounds accounting for almost all cars shown in PR photographs having them.

Context:

S714 Sonderaktion *Sports Bug* was one of two models in the “Rallye” Group of Editions.

20,000 Sports Bugs were produced (UK Safer Motoring magazine, June 1973) by Volkswagen AG at Emden, (Germany).

Sales Literature:

The Sports Bug was vigorously publicised by Volkswagen of America Inc (VWoA). This included American produced and published sales literature, national magazine adverts declaring “Volkswagen announces a limited edition Volkswagen” and extensive television ads suggesting:

“If you don’t get it now, you might not be able to get it at all”.

The sales brochure came in the form of a fascinating little folder, which opened
 out to illustrate two Sports Bugs surrounded by full colour cartoon characters commenting on the cars. This was the work of Jack Davis, better known for his extensive contribution to comic art, including MAD magazine. The text teased:

“On rare occasions we blow our minds and put out a limited production of a real fun car. This is one of those rare occasions… We made a small number, and then, so to speak, we broke the mold. So if you want one, let’s hear it. Like now?’

The sales brochure also encouraged buyers to:

“Come on heavy, deck your Sports Bug with these black metal trim options… bumper overriders, door handle shields, gravel guards, rear hood grille and flare-tip exhaust extensions”.

A French language version of the brochure was also produced for use by Canadian dealerships.

The Karmann connection:

So successful was the “Sports Bug” that a very interesting twist came about. VWoA is understood to have made direct contact with Wilhelm Karmann GmbH to order a shipment of Karmann Ghias to match the “Sports Bug” – a comparatively easy arrangement given that Saturngelb was, at that time, a standard paint colour for the KG which just needed the addition of Lemmerz GT Sports wheels and black trim o complete the matching “Sports” image

This VWoA commissioning of Karmann was apparently made without the sanction of Volkswagen AG though. As a result only a couple of hundred “Sports” Karmann Ghias were produced in both Sedan and Convertible guise in total before Volkswagen reportedly intervened and vetoed further production. Package code M002 (US market only) with Options M261 (dual outside mirrors on Convertible) and M976 (Lemmerz GT Sports wheels)

Further reading on this website:

The individual profiles for

1973 Dealer Sports Bug
1973 “Gelbschwarzer Renner”,
1973 Sportkäfer ‘Drei Kafer auf Extra-tour’, New Beetle Black-Orange,
Beetle GSR.

“Retrospectively Speaking” editorial column RS 004

A dedicated Facebook Group for the Edition is active under the name of “VW Sports Bug Group”

Header photograph courtesy Blaine Braziel. Karmann Ghia Sport info and photo courtesy Pammie Mattes.


This page last modified: 2020-10-22