Reader Question: Would Anyone Buy Them?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply! 

Brett asks: Do you think people would buy a car like the old VW Beetle if it were legal to manufacture and sell them?

My reply: No, probably not.

Not enough, people, at any rate to make it worth manufacturing them. However, I do believe many people would buy a modern elaboration of the same concept.

What I mean by that is a car with a fuel-injected (but not  direct-injected) engine with enough power to accelerate to 60 in 9 seconds or less (the old Beetle needed about 15 seconds) and comfortably maintain 75 MPH on the highway (the old Beetle’s top speed was about 90, so 75 was running close to redline and all out).

The old Beetle lacked AC (unless it had aftermarket AC – and that usually made it overheat and sapped what little power it had). A modern elaboration of the concept would have AC; just not climate control AC.

It would have power windows and locks, as well as a good stereo, comfortable seats and probably be capable of averaging 50-60 MPG.

And it could be manufactured and sold – for a good profit – for around $10,000.

This isn’t speculative.

It’s actual. ‘

Cars like this are being manufactured and sold in other countries. But not here – because of Uncle. By which I mean: Because of government-mandated sssssssssssssaaaaaaaaaaafety and emissions rigmarole.

The car described above might not have any air bags – or just two. Uncle-compliant cars have at least six.

The car described above might not pass current offset barrier impact tests; this doesn’t mean it is “unsafe.” A 1990 S-Class Benz would not pass current crash tests, either. Is it “unsafe”?

One can at least make a morally sound argument – in principle – about cars complying with reasonable tailpipe exhaust emissions standards. The key word being reasonable. The standard in effect circa 1995 were reasonable; the current ones are not. They impose massive cost for negligible gain.

One cannot make a morally sound argument for any government-mandated “safety” standards – because “safety” is none of the government’s business, in a free society. Especially since what’s at issue isn’t “safety.” A 1990 Mercedes isn’t defective or crash-prone. It just doesn’t meet current government crash test standards. The same is true of the $10,000 cars people in other countries can buy but which are illegal here.

It’s pretty obnoxious, when you stop to think about it, that the government – which is just other people – thinks it has the right to decide on our behalf (without our consent) how “safe” our cars must be.

If you want affordable/reasonable cars again, the first step is to get rid of these obnoxious know-it-alls at gunpoint.

. . .

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. Hell…people [even Americans] bought Yugos! -And they were like the Bug’s feces, and their lifespans were measured in days, rather than decades….

    But yeah….too many Americans would rather have high-tech, luxury and planned obsolescence with debt, than practical simple durable transportation that they can afford.

  2. I would buy one. Just upgrade the engine to Type 4 standards, say 1.8L, and A/C becomes possible without fried valves. Bosch L-Jet or a modern equivalent with a MAF sensor, simple, easily diagnosed. Maybe more alternator (the biggest T4 alt was ~75A, standard one was 55A, much too small for a car with A/C), and definitely an Eberspaecher heater. Use experience with the A-platform cars and McPherson strut front suspension to bulletproof the Super Beetle’s front end and make the car handle like a GTI. 4 joint rear, of course. Ah yes, a very nice “forever” car, ~$12K new…I can dream, can’t I 🙂

  3. When they quit making them in Mexico, they were very popular. I suspect they would be now since the cars you can now buy are POS with too much computerized BS. They were at their height of reliability when they quit making them and I’d bet, the US was the main reason they quit making them. I’d buy one, change the carbs and air filters and drive shit out of it.

    We used to see how fast one would run falling off the caprock. They’d do a bit over 100 coming down those steep grades. You had to be careful of the winds though.


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