Custom Volkswagen (1968)
 


  The Volkswagen "Beetle" is perhaps the most-recognized and best-loved car of all time!
It was first proposed by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche in 1934 as a "people's car" that would be
sufficiently affordable for hundreds of thousands of German citizens.  A handful of VWs
were built before World War II, but civilian production did not begin in earnest until after
the war.  In 1972, "Beetle" production reached over 15 million, besting a production record
previously held by the Ford Model T.  Although the manufacture of "Beetles" in Germany
ended in 1979, the car was produced in Mexico until recently.



Mattel's first version of the Volkswagen Beetle was called the "Custom Volkswagen".
It was actually patterned after an IMC 1:25 scale model that was issued in 1965.  Both
the model and the Custom Volkswagen featured a blown V-8 engine, a single front seat
and center steering wheel.




The Custom VW was produced at both the US and HK plants.  US-made Custom VWs
featured silver painted headlights, clear windows and sliding sunroof, a metal engine, and
a steering wheel that was molded as part of the interior.  White interiors are common,
dark interiors are rare.  All US Customs VWs have small (front) and medium (rear)
bearing-style wheels.


A brown US Custom Volkswagen.

Like the US cars, nearly all HK-made Custom VWs have a sunroof.  "No sunroof" cars
(described below) are rare.  On HK VWs, the headlights are part of the base of the car and
extend through holes in the car body.  Window and sunroof "glass" is tinted blue, and the
engine is made of vacuum-plated plastic.  Interiors were done in white, light brown or
dark brown, all with a black steering wheel. 
HK cars have small bearing style wheels in
front, and medium bearing (early) or medium cap style (later) wheels in the rear.



An olive HK Custom Volkswagen.

 
A pair of purple Custom VWs: HK on the left, US on the right.

HK Custom VWs have a much more detailed base than US cars, and use a single spun "rivet"
to secure the base to the body (US cars have two "rivets").


A comparison of VW bases: HK and US Custom VWs, and the '74 Flying Colors Volkswagen.

Considerable other variation occurred with Custom VW bases.  For example, very rare
pre-production/prototype Custom VWs are characterized by a base with "CUSTOM
VOLKSWAGEN" spelled out in all capital letters.


HK (L) and US (R) "all cap" bases.

The earliest Custom Volkswagens that were produced by Mattel were made at the HK plant
and did not have a sunroof.  These cars were available only in the European market, with most
examples being sold in Germany and the UK.


Blue HK Custom Volkswagens with and without the sunroof.

Besides lacking a sunroof, the "NSR" VWs had other casting differences including no side
windows and a different interior.  The following photos highlight some of the differences
between the NSR VWs and their more common counterparts.







  Most NSR VWs are blue.  A few aqua no-sunroof VWs have been found, as well as extremely
rare cars in orange, red, green, copper, and enamel green.





 In 1974, Mattel re-worked the US casting for their new line of Flying Color cars.  Although the
cars were produced in Hong Kong and lack the sunroof, the design is most similar to the original
US Custom VW.  No part of the Flying Colors Volkswagen is interchangeable with the earlier
NSR HK Custom Volkswagen.




Color chart


US COLORS:
COMMENTS:
copper
common
blue common
green common
red common
aqua common
antifreeze common
purple uncommon
orange
uncommon
gold
uncommon
lime
hard to find
olive
hard to find
rose
hard to find
creamy pink
rare
light blue
rare
magenta
very rare
hot pink
very rare
yellow
extremely rare
HK COLORS:
COMMENTS:
blue
common
green
common
red
common
aqua
common
copper
uncommon
orange
uncommon
green enamel uncommon
purple
hard to find
olive
rare
light blue
very rare



Custom Volkswagens in blister packs: antifreeze US (L) and red HK (right).



A hot pink US Custom Volkswagen.


An awesome group of HK Custom VWs!


US Custom VWs in (left to right) red, rose, creamy pink, hot pink and magenta.


An green enamel HK Custom Volkswagen.


A magenta enamel HK Custom Volkswagen?  A cool color whatever it is!
Photo courtesy of Bob Case, Littletoycars.com


HK and US Custom Volkswagens in spectraflame orange.






  Photo & info credits: Roy Kralle & the RLOL community





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